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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Writing Your Story

For some reason, it seems like funerals bring out the best in ministers. Sitting in a pew at First Baptist Church, Sulphur, Oklahoma on Tuesday morning, I couldn't help but think back a few months to when I sat in a pew at St. John's Catholic Church in Smithton, Illinois. There were differences, of course, in the preaching styles of a middle-aged Catholic priest (who didn't really know the person he eulogized) and a just-a-bit older Baptist minister (who had known the person he euologized for decades). But the similarities were striking.

Brother Eddie spoke to us about books- long ones, short ones, boring ones, ones you can't put down. Then he talked about Grandad's story... a long story (took almost 89 years to write), full of laughter and family. Pages of trucks and tractors and firetrucks fill the chapters (he loved to restore old tractors once he retired from his trucking business). Love of God, family and community graced every page.

Grandad's story (like Grandma's legacy) was in that church Tuesday morning. Not just family, but friends... lots of friends. When the service was over, everyone filed by the casket and paid their respects to MeeMaw and the rest of the family. I hadn't really paid attention as we walked in to the number of people in the church, and, as they walked past us, I was floored. Older people (who had known him for decades), younger people (whose lives he had touched in one way or another), friends who came to support the family... they just kept coming and coming. The love that he had felt for those around him was clearly returned.

The final chapter of his story wasn't written last Saturday, when he told his wife of 65 years that he was tired and wanted to go home to be with the Lord. With apologies to Paul Harvey, that was just the first page of the rest of his story.

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