Members of our church youth group, armed with brooms, mops, and buckets, descended on the new minister’s house intent on a little last-minute cleaning and a whole lot of shenanigans. Philip Black and his family were on their way to their new house and we needed to get busy.
We weren’t sure what to expect from this new guy, but as soon as that gigantic smile of his burst through the door we were all swept away by his clever wit and genuine love for people. Philip remained our preacher throughout my teen years and became good friends with my dad.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the state, another man led a small tribe with the same type of genuine spirit. With not nearly as many words, Berlun Jackson’s work ethic, honesty, and friendliness drew others to him and spilled over into members of his tribe.
While I sat listening and learning from Philip, my husband Ron sat at the feet of his dad, absorbing all of his good qualities. Ron and I met in Auburn in September of 1978. Knowing I played racquetball, he said he’d always wanted to learn how to play. (What a pick-up line!) Of course, I offered to teach him a thing or two, and I haven’t stopped doing that for over 40 years! 🙂 After his first kiss, I was all in, and I think he must have been too. We got engaged in October and married in June just eight months later. Every month since then, I’ve appreciated the time his father spent teaching Ron to be a man.
Ron also learned from his dad how to scare the living daylights out of me. I remember riding with the senior Jackson in his truck one day. Neither of us talked much, so it had gotten really quiet. I’m sure my mind was off in Never-Never Land somewhere when all of a sudden he screamed and slapped the truck seat as hard as he could. I screamed louder and tried to push my thumping heart out of my throat and back down into my chest. He laughed and laughed. It took hours for my heart to get back into rhythm.
Let’s just say, Ron learned everything exceptionally well from his dad!
This past Sunday, both Philip, the man who married us, and Berlun, the man who helped sustain us, were eulogized. Philip in Montgomery, Berlun in Guntersville. In his later years, Philip moved to Guntersville to live near his brother. It was heartwarming to see the obituary for these two precious men appear side-by-side in the local newspaper.
Both men fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith, and left a legacy of love.
Each man played a significant role in the book written by God long ago that continues to be played out in the chapters of our love story.
Since this is Valentines week, let me go on record as saying God has a love story for you as well. He hand-picked you to be part of His tribe. Jesus has already armed Himself with a Sword, a robe, and a crown to prepare the way toward a new home for you. He can’t wait to see your gigantic smile burst through heaven’s door because of your great love for Him!
Yes, there will be days He will need to get your attention. He may slap the seat you’re sitting on to get your heart in the right place, but He only does it because He loves you and wants to see you smile again. Appreciate Him taking the time.
Sit at His feet.
Fight the good fight.
Keep the faith.
Finish the race.
Leave a legacy of love.
And then, after we see Jesus … we’ll go side-by-side to find Philip and Berlun. I think you’ll love them too.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”John 14:2-3