Most of my writing here comes without a plan. I sit, put my fingers on the keyboard, type a word or two, then my thoughts come together and the blog has a post. See? Easy peasy. :-)
I'm going to attempt that today as I (what's the opposite of verbally? typefully?) think about the last chapter in the lives of two men.
Saturday we went downtown to spend the day with my son and his family. At one point all 7 of us piled into a van together to run an errand. We drove to the end of an alley to pull out into traffic and stopped. And waited...and waited...and waited. We weren't waiting for a break in "ordinary" traffic. We were stuck there, witnesses of what I thought was an amazing funeral procession.
Have you ever heard of the Outlaws? They're a motorcycle gang that specializes in drug dealing, illegal gambling, assault, kidnapping, etc. In some cities and in some places the police don't even mess with them. I hope none of the Outlaws read my blog because I must say, The Outlaws? Really? If you're going to be that perverse, surely you can come up with a better name than that?
Anyway, moving along. Apparently one of the more important leaders of the gang had died. His name was Leach. (Now that's a name that's gang worthy.) Before Leach was laid to rest, his fellow conspirators had a memorial service for him and then drove his body around the city as a final farewell. That's what we got to see. Literally hundreds of motorcycles and cars following his casket, (which, btw, was not in an ordinary hearse. It was in a hearsy-trailer thingy being pulled by a motorcycle.) (Can you tell I only slept about 4 hours last night?)
What I would've loved to have witnessed was Leach's actual memorial service. Can you imagine the scene? Hundreds of men gathering to say goodbye to a person who had led the way in hurting people... in ruining lives. What on earth was said? Was he loved by any of them? Trusted?
There was a viewing and then a memorial service I did get to witness and it was just as fascinating as I imagine Leach's to be. My dad's.
His viewing was held late in the afternoon on a biting cold December day. There was no casket. People came to celebrate his life, not his death. And boy, did they come. We stood there for hours greeting literally hundreds of people. I've never seen anything like it. The queue went down the main isle of the church, through a large foyer, out the door of the church into the snow and cold, and around the building.
It was a bittersweet day for me-bitter because most of those people, my dad's friends, had never even heard of me. "Oh, Frank had a daughter? It's nice to meet you....." Sweet because I was able to see just how much he was loved and respected by those friends.
His memorial was the next day and the same thing happened. Hundreds of people came to say goodbye. We were again there for hours, watching and listening to people say goodbye and celebrate who my dad was. I heard story after story about the ways my dad had served people, led them to the Lord, given of his money or time, and taught them scripture. And again, it was a bittersweet day. My dad left behind literally hundreds of people who had been blessed by him, but he also left behind 6 children with scars on their hearts-wounds he'd inflicted.
Two men, two lives. Hundreds of people who admired and respected them...wounded people left in their wake. The difference is the Grace one embraced. One of those men died knowing Jesus was and is and can. My dad died in peace, trusting that God would take care of the messes he'd left behind. I wonder how Leach went?