Today’s Reading: John 11:25-26 NIV
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
My father-in-law received his new birth into life eternal yesterday. He passed as so many of us hope to – sleeping soundly in his bed next to his wife of sixty-five years, curled up underneath warm blankets. I couldn’t help but thank the Lord that he had not fallen down or suffered any broken any bones. It is never easy losing the people we love the most, and early this morning, I am wide awake, reliving many wonderful moments spent with Pop throughout the years.
When I was fifteen years old, I think Pop was the tallest man I knew. Standing over six feet tall, Pop towered over me. I’m not sure that Pop was wild at first about me dating his son, but when it came time to go to Jeff’s senior prom, it was Pop who volunteered to teach me how to do the two-step. I learned to waltz to Big Band music playing on their eight-track tape deck in his study. I don’t think I embarrassed Jeff too much at senior prom, since he decided to continue the dance with me all these years. Pop was a great dance instructor, indeed. The last time I danced with Pop was on the church parking lot just a few months ago. You see, a great instructor does not need music or a ball room floor to display his vocational gift. One cannot help but want to leave worship dancing and singing! It seemed so natural to do a little two step on the black top under the shadow of the Faith Church steeple.
Pop was a great lead. He gently would take my hand in his, and show me, by example, how to move gracefully across the dance floor. If you know me well, then you know my middle name is not Grace, and I struggle with gliding; I’m actually much more adept at tripping and falling. Through the years, it was Pop who was there to pick me up whenever I fell down. His willingness to listen and encourage me, especially through some really tough times, is a gift I will treasure forever. He may have been my father-in-law by marriage, but I am proud to have called him Daddy.
Pop’s life example and servant leadership mirrored the example of our Heavenly Father. I’m pretty sure he took his life’s lead from Him. A good provider, a stern but loving disciplinarian, Pop possessed a kind and humble heart. When Pop chose love, he chose it for a life time. He made life’s dance look easy, and we all know it is not. The last few years of Pop’s life were a struggle. He recovered from some very serious bone breaks that may have kept many in the confines of a wheel chair or walker. Pop never gave up; determined to dance again, he partied with reckless abandon at his granddaughter Katie’s wedding. He had worked hard that fall in physical therapy just so that he could dance the night away with his daughters and granddaughters that night. I have several photographs of Pop in my scrapbook, doing the monster mash with his daughter Linda and granddaughter Courtney. I laugh out loud every time I look at these wonderful pictures, honoring the memory of the dance master.
I would have to say that my most cherished recollection with Pop was a moment of faith sharing, as we sat together in the church fellowship hall, listening to a group discussion of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ.” Pop raised his voice to speak while tears streamed down his cheeks. This was remarkable because Pop did not cry in public. He said, “I felt compelled to see this film because I knew if Jesus could suffer that way and die for me, the least I could do is to see it for myself.” I know it is his sure faith in Jesus Christ that helped him finish life’s dance, and begin the new song that will last for all eternity. He is doing the two-step with His Savior, and this morning, I can hear their heels clicking together as they laugh out loud in unending joy, gliding along the streets of gold.
Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” We can all take a dance lesson today from Pop. Let the Lord take the lead; for He will guide you every step of the way, if you will choose to believe.
Thank you Pop, for teaching me how to dance.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
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