Monday, February 28, 2011

Johnny

See that man over there? That’s my friend Dan. Around here we call him Preacher. He doesn’t usually look so sad. Most the time he’s Mr. Outgoing. But, three months ago, he preached Johnny’s funeral – his grandson, Johnny.


Twenty-one years old, hit by a drunk driver.

He told me he was just on the phone with his son; Johnny’s dad.

“My boy said; ‘Dad, I have some bad days…’”

Preachers’ eyes squeezed shut; water leaked from under glasses. A strong tattooed arm groped. I grabbed. We held hands right there in the front yard, unashamed. He weaved a bit, then, steadied by our grip he continued….

“Dad’, he said, ‘I have some bad days…and the rest, the rest – well, the rest are horrible.’”

He removed his glasses with one hand and wiped his eyes with the back of the other. “Life is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” He said – his preacher kicking in…

I placed a hand on his shoulder. He continued.


“278 kids from Johnny’s high school were at the funeral.


I told them: ‘I want to tell you three things:


One; you don’t have to be old.’ And I pointed at my Grandson Johnny.


Two ‘you don’t have to be sick.’ And I pointed at his casket again...


‘But…you do have to be ready.’ And I pointed at all of them.


Now you find someone to hug. And if you can’t find someone, I’ll hug you.’


After it was over my daughter-in-law said. ‘Daddy, someone over there wants a hug.’


I looked and there was the longest line; kids, that, just, wanted, a hug.”


After crocodile tears and a bear hug. He composed himself and rambled on about other things for awhile. His cheeks dried and his quivering voice steadied. The conversation rolled back around to his grandson.

I eased into the question, unsure if I should even ask… “You mentioned being ready. Do you know about Johnny?”

“My wife and I wondered – his parents too. We prayed for an answer.”

He stood a bit taller, his eyes twinkled a bit brighter and the first hint of a smile crossed his lips.

“It was about 4:30 in the morning. I was sitting in the recliner – couldn’t sleep. My wife walks into the living room. ‘I saw Johnny. And he looked sooo good.’ He was holding an envelope; the big manila type. It was folded. He looked at peace. A word was written across the front of it. He didn’t say a word. But, I could read the word…”

Now his back was straight and his mouth was bent, into a toothy grin. His eyes twinkled as he breathed the word…

“FORGIVEN.”

“We think God in His mercy was letting us know. It’s still hard. We don’t blame God. He didn’t put that man behind the wheel. But that blessed assurance knowing Johnny’s in heaven makes all the difference.”

** You can know that you're forgiven. I've already prayed for you and would be happy to pray with you. Just let me know.**

I pray today you are hugged by the Lord of Life. Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)


For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away (James 4:14)


Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah (Psalm 39:5)
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2 comments:

a sojourner said...

it's funny how most of us can't think like that, Doug. that is to say in regards to truly know that our life is actually that vapor or fleeting moment, if you will. it's one thing to read and believe it in varying degrees of faith but to know it to the core of your existance in Him, is another matter altogether. compared to eternity... still trying to get that one permanently settled. loved the "hugged by the Lord of life" too. my thoughts are a bit scattered this morning so it's a bit hard to leave anything behind that makes sense or is related to the various posts. my apologies to you, sir.

Doug Spurling said...

Sojourner; Doesn’t an eternal perspective put everything in perspective? Yet our near-sightedness blinds us to this. I pray we can learn to put on “God goggles” and see things as He does. Like your name suggests – we are “Sojourners. I appreciate you – thank you.