A good friend went home last month. He was a part of this blog from the beginning and was nothing but a support from the start, almost six years ago.
Every follower of the Lord needs someone like Don. He only ever had an encouraging word and a smile, and was willing to consider any truth. He left many messages here, in comments spread throughout my many posts.
He was a gentle man but strong, and much loved by his family and so many friends. I don’t think it was even possible to not like him. Having already raised a family, he was still working at his profession into his mid-seventies. I met him and his wife at the end of a church service right before I created this site. He was pretty much my only reader in the beginning. I remember I kept plugging away. In my first year I wrote over a hundred posts and was still much invisible, but Don was always there.
We would get together for Bible studies at his place. He even let me teach on many occasions. We had a good time. After I returned from a few years working on the oil rigs, we continued to meet every week or so, having informal study sessions, which is actually a euphemism for Don allowing me to talk. He was a great listener. He understood, I think, that I had a lot to say and few to say it to, but it’s always been that way. He would add, though, many wise words, even though he was not all that proficient or up to speed on all the voluminous spiritual knowledge we have available to us today.
The Lord made me a teacher from the beginning with an anointing to search and seek out knowledge and truth, especially of course, His truth. I could never get enough and still can’t. I joke with people that I’m glad eternity is forever because I have so much work to do and so much to learn. Don would always allow me to tell him about all the recent revelations I was receiving from heaven’s downloads. He didn’t understand sometimes but never allowed that to be a cause of rejection. He was a traditionalist, I think, at heart, and had a disciplined west Texas upbringing, one of those kinds of raisings that so many Americans received, in which the number one rule was to serve the Lord in the light they had, in the way they felt was right. The second rule was to survive.
This is a dynamic that so many have lost touch with. Back then and for so much of the history of America it truly was always a matter of survival. You had the Lord, if you did, and then you had some family and maybe a friend or two. And you had your wits and an understanding that life is very hard and only the strong survive. There was no government, for the most part, back then. There was, but it was so small, and it was distant, and for most Americans it had little effect. They were on their own. There was no nanny state. America was still very far apart and far away and distant horizons were everywhere. Those days have long since passed.
Americans sprinted out west and then backwashed to the center and America became a place where all the detail started getting filled in and everyone started building out everything that could be. In time it became the equivalent of a person turning inward and then America began experiencing all levels of mental constructs and the problems that ensue when people lose their dreams and their way.
Yet, it was only eighty years ago when there was still a frontier in places and so much yet to discover. The famed Route 66 began in 1926. People had an insatiable desire to seek out a good life with much energy and joy. Families stayed together. They had to. They needed each other. Their focus wasn’t on themselves.
Then the whole thing blew up. The devil invaded with an evil agenda and most Americans didn’t know it was him. He would do his usual dividing and destroying and generally just deceiving everyone and bringing temptation and the resultant sin to epidemic proportions. Many American Christians continued to remain loyal to what they had always done, not understanding that the battle had expanded far beyond what it was before and would require much more Lord Jesus and much more of His Holy Spirit.
The Lord obliged. He knew what we would need. And as always He was way ahead of us. It began about 1960. I have written about the phenomenon here several times. And while the 1960s were blowing up on the political front and on university campuses and in the streets, the Lord was bringing forth new spiritual life on a level never before seen and doing the impossible. Christians from all denominations were experiencing a new spiritual time in this country. Many Christians didn’t see it and most rejected it. But the Lord was proven right.
My friend Don was on the cusp of all this. He felt more comfortable in his traditional beliefs and approach though he certainly progressed into the future. It had made him what he was. Yet, in my experience, he was one of a kind.
Our many informal sessions are over now. There will be no more spontaneous Bible studies or talk sessions out on his driveway or in his garage. I think he understood that though I often engaged in much of the verbiage that it was what I needed. I needed someone to listen and gain positive feedback. It was a form of silent counseling on his part, yet he most often was always listening and open. He told me on occasion how much I had done for him and how much he had learned. This was truly real koinonia in action. We both attended to our callings and both received a spiritual benefit that would otherwise never be possible. Here was an older brother listening to a much more informed and knowledgeable younger brother. His hair had long since gone white. Mine was on the way.
And now he’s gone. This is the fate of us all. Summer always gives way to fall and falling leaves, and an inevitable turn to dark winter skies and gently blowing snow.
Yet, the winter is going. The annual rebirth is underway. Spring is almost here. Life is being born again yet again. The Lord is trying to tell us something. We must cross the spiritual frontier in the here and now and receive all He has for us and needs us to have, for His sake and the Gospel.
Life is short and for some it is shorter than others. Though we possess God’s blessings and strength in the here and now and live to serve Him, and though life is often wrought with pain and tragedy, there is something good at the end of this temporary and often heart-rending realm for those who stay in faith.
That’s where Don is.
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