Did he have an inkling that it would be his last night in which eternity was but a dream & a promise out there in the future? The last night in which this world would be all he knew of reality? The last night before meeting his Savior face to face and hearing those magnificent words “Well done, good & faithful servant!”?
I wonder if he pondered the greatness of God, before Whom he would stand the next night. Probably so; a favorite hymn of his was “In the Garden”—“And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own…”
Did he think about his sons’ future lives? Somehow, I think he did, for he thought of that often. I wonder if God’s grace gave him a glimpse of daughters-in-law…and of 5 grandchildren…whose life journeys would forever be inexorably linked to his, despite their having never met him.
Did he think about his beloved wife’s future? I ‘spect he did here too, for he was a man who loved her much and who did all he could to provide for and shape that future.
Did he think about finishing the race & keeping the faith? Overwhelming evidence from the previous 47 years (his lifespan) suggests that he did.
Did he think about the gigantic hole his passing would leave in the lives of so many? I’m sure he had thought of that now & then, as ours is a family that knows how to live life well and how to deal with its end. Regrettably, we have a good bit of experience with that “ending” part. He had that experience too. However, no 47-year-old spends too much time thinking of his own life’s end.
Did he think of Christmas & the Incarnation & family & how all of those seem intertwined? I think so, for on this night 40 years ago, he & his family decorated the tree and fired up the music of the season. He absolutely deplored the ever-lengthening “Christmas season” as cheapening the meaning of itself. Thus, the tree went up about two weeks before Christmas, & never earlier.
Whatever his thoughts were on Dec. 13, 1974, mine on the forty Dec. 13’s since have always focused on him. And on the overwhelming influence the short 15 ½ years we shared on earth continue to have on pretty much the totality of my own life and faith and family. Influence like a good Daddy should have on his son.
And thus, I both love and hate staring at the Christmas tree here late in the evening on Dec. 13. Doing so brings memories to the fore, both good and painful. Questions that I won’t get answered until until that Great Day, when my feeble-minded questions will fade into insignificance beside an eternally long, “Thank You, Lord!”
December 13, 1974, I ‘spect Dad might have stared at the freshly-decorated Christmas tree and chased his own memories a bit.
Think I’ll go stare at ours and chase mine.