Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fruits of the Spirit....

We knew this day would come.  You can not prepare your heart for it.  Trevor's dad, one of the greatest servants of God I've ever known, met Jesus face to face today.  I am heartbroken for my husband, my children, Joy, and all who loved him.  He was one of God's greatest works.

When I first met my father in law the thing that stood out to me were his eyes.  They danced. I had only seen eyes like that a few other times and I came to realize it was for the same reason....the joy of Jesus.  His eyes had an eternal light in them.  He shined God's love on everyone. He hugged me tight and long, laughing, and rocked me from side to side like he would countless times throughout the years. He was so joyful. He would often belly laugh with his 'big son' and his Joy girl.  So joyful.

He would ask me and my family about our lives and listen with intentness and a total presence.  He was not distracted by any outside otherness and gave you his full listening self.  I watched him treat everyone that way.  He was so very kind. You were the most important person in the room to him. Always kind.

He served the people of Haiti for years as a Missionary and spent a lifetime serving the people of Jamaica.  On my first, and so far only visit to Jamaica, we turned on to a rough looking street and Trevor declared it his.  Pot holes the size of our little Toyota were the norm.  The houses either had sharp glass or barbed wire at the top of the gates surrounding their home for protection.  A goat and a rooster wondered down the side of the road. The sounds of loud reggae music came from one home and a Rasta man sat on the porch of another with a ring of smoke around his head.  A group of young men were walking down the middle of the road and looked like they were up to no good.  As I am praying that we hurry past, Trevor's dad slows his car to a stop and the young men come over and shout "hello Pastor" and give high fives and hand shakes and "nuff respec."  You see, Trevor's dad loved like Jesus.  The neighborhood knew.  They all loved Pastor.  The ragamuffin in the street and the church lady with her well kept home, the businessman in the suit and the street vendor selling fruit.  Everyone loved Pastor.  Because he loved mightily.

I have never heard my husband yell.  Ever. We've been together over 20 years.  He is like his father and as gentle as they come.  My father in law would speak conviction and truth in to someone's life but always with a gentleness for their soul.  He was sweet and gentle with his grandbabies.  He was sweet and gentle with his wife and his children.  He was sweet and gentle with the thousands of children and their parents he introduced to Jesus across the countryside of Jamaica.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease on a 3 week visit here in 2003.  He wouldn't leave our home for 3 more years. It was beyond hard for him to leave his preaching, his church, his country, his community.  So difficult to lose his ability to drive, to remember to take his medications or to go on a walk by lose his independence.  It must have been a difficult adjustment to over night be living with his son, his wife and their two very small children.  But he did it all with grace. I am sure he wanted to lash out at his son for making these decisions he felt he should be making but he never did.  I am sure he wanted to tell me to take a hike when I wouldn't let him go for a walk by himself or reminded him again to take his medicine but he never did.  I bet there were times the chaos of two babies in a small home were overwhelming to him but he never uttered a complaint.  Not a single one.  He had self control.  As even keeled as they come.

He lived in our home for 3 years.  With me.  And our children.  He had patience.

We watched Alzheimer's take so much from him but nothing could take his faith.  I simply have never met anyone that loved Jesus more or trusted in His promises.  What great joy it gives me to know that he is seeing them fulfilled right now.  Daddy would sit and recite scripture long after he had forgotten our names.  It grew in his soul. I have never seen anyone read the word like he did.  He was a student of Jesus.  He embodied faithfulness.

And all of that.....all of that Jesus brought him peace.  In the last years of his life, the last months and days, he always had peace.  He was not fearful or angry.  He was at peace.  He had waited almost 84 years to be at the right hand of Jesus.  I have no doubt he is there.

As I sat to write about the legacy he's left us, it dawned on me that I was naming the fruits of the spirit.  Daddy walked in the spirit of Christ and he lived his life firmly rooted in them. What an honor it was to know and love him.  Galatians 5:22 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."

He was as good as they come.  Loving the great ones is easy.  Losing them is hard.

After 11 years of battling Alzheimers, tonight Daddy is whole again.  Reunited with Trevor's mom. I would always well up with tears thinking of how someday he would feel to be face to face with Jesus and last week it hit me that Jesus would get to meet Daddy face to face...Jesus would get to meet one of his greatest disciples...a true servant...such a celebration must be taking place.

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