The Table – Part One

The Table – Part One

 

kirby table

When I think back on my mother’s family, it’s this table that always comes to the front of my mind.  You could fit 8 people comfortably around it (although I rarely remember less than ten).  It took up almost the entire dining room in my granny’s tiny house.  I can search my whole memory and not think of a single time I saw the table empty of people or food.  My mother is the youngest of nine children (11 if you count her stillborn twin sisters – which I always do).  Once they all married and had lots of kids, this family went from large to humongous!

On December 16, 2013, my mother’s oldest brother Billy passed away.  Uncle Billy was 82 years old.  He married once but my mom says he could never stand to be away from my granny and so, for as long as I knew him, he lived at her home.  Since my granny was the family’s main babysitter, all her grandchildren spent tons of time with Uncle Billy.  (And it wasn’t like today where grandparents always seem to be raising their grandchildren.  We just visited a lot and got to spend the night every now and again.)

Uncle Billy and Uncle Vernon at the house on Nix Drive

Uncle Billy and Uncle Vernon at the house on Nix Drive

People seem to think it’s sad that he had no children of his own and I guess in a way I understand that.  As an adult, it’s easy for me to see that my uncle was very likely suffering from some mental illness.  I believe he had crippling depression and anxiety.  But times were different and I just grew up thinking he stayed in bed a lot and really loved his mom.  I wonder what his life may have been like had he been diagnosed and treated.

I wanted someone so badly to tell stories about Billy at his funeral…but that didn’t happen.  So I am going to tell one here.  (That’s why I have a blog – so I can say whatever I want!) Many years ago (like in the 1960’s!) several of my uncles worked as ice cream truck drivers.  Billy could not succeed at this job because he couldn’t stand to let the kids with no money go without ice cream.  So he would give it to them and pay for it out of his own wages. Ya’ll, I think Jesus probably high fived Uncle Billy just based on that fact alone.

I know my uncle Billy is in heaven.  I never doubted his love or devotion to his faith even though he made mistakes and lived like a normal flawed human. One of my uncles seems to believe that although Billy made several professions of faith in his life, the only one that ‘took’ was the one he made during his final years living in a nursing home.  To that my response is BALONEY!  In fact I think people are constantly making new professions of faith because many of us have sold Christianity as just a behavior modification process.  If the only way we can really be saved is to live like nursing home residents, we are all in trouble.

Look, I don’t care if you get mad at me or not but if you think people aren’t saved because they keep sinning, I’ve got news for you.  You have misread the Bible, misinterpreted the Holy Spirit and I ain’t all that convinced on the state of your own salvation (not that it’s any of my business.)  Let me be clear on this.  I don’t mean that salvation won’t change you and ,obviously, if you change then  your behavior will change too.  But if you love Jesus with all your heart and you admit your sin and ask for forgiveness, please don’t live your life thinking you are gonna bust hell wide open because you like a Budweiser every now and again.  Please?

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

Luke 18 :9-14

kirby 4

 

When I think of my granny and my mother’s two sisters that have passed away. I like to think they are sitting at that table in heaven.  It may be a childish fantasy but Jesus tells us very clearly that Heaven is a place prepared for us.  And ya’ll it’s near impossible to imagine that my Uncle Billy hasn’t taken a seat at that table.

I will see you soon Uncle Billy.  Save me a seat, ok?

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