For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
Roy Smith Allen was a genuine, authentic, real-deal Southern good ole boy. I met him on the road to falling in love with his daughter. I can remember virtually every detail of meeting Judy but Roy, well, its like one minute he wasn’t there and the next he was. I met Judy at her church on a Wednesday night. I walked in the side door and she was standing with a group of five or six girls. It was as if the others weren’t even there. She stole the show…and my heart.
I found out that when I started dating Judy, I also started dating her family. They were a crazy bunch of fun-loving people who turned every get together into a ruckus of stories and one-uppers. Right in the middle of the craziness was Roy. Well, for some reason, Roy took a shine to me. Judy will tell you that both of her parents liked me more than her. That probably wasn’t true. But I guess they trusted me because truth be known she was a little too young and I was a little too old. But here we are forty-four years later so we must have met somewhere in the middle.
Roy was a hard core, church going, deacon. He worked for the county as the superintendent of roads and had been the assistant warden at the county work camp. He had a gun…he carried a gun. He told Judy and I upfront he didn’t believe in pre-marshall (translated premarital) sex. We both agreed with that so the gun stayed in the holster which was a good thing.
About nine months after I started dating Judy, I asked her to marry me. It happened to be on April Fool’s Day which was kinda funny. But I was dead serious and happily she said yes. So, by now Roy had become Pops to me. So I knew I had to ask him if I could marry Judy. After his first heart attack, his doctor suggested he begin a walking regimen. One evening I joined him walking around the track at the park and I said, “Pops, I would like to marry Judy.” It wasn’t a question but it was a statement that needed a response and he gave one. “No you don’t, boy.” Pops called me “boy” a lot. It wasn’t derogatory but more akin to him calling me “son.”
I persisted and said, “No really, I want to marry Judy.” He stoically gave the same answer, “No you don’t, boy.” Well, I can’t remember how many times we bantered back and forth but eventually I took it as a yes. We were officially engaged…as soon as I could afford a ring.
Somewhere along the journey, her parents allowed me to stay in the spare bedroom at their house on weekends. The base was about twenty-five miles away so it seemed to make some sense. Pops liked to get up early and work hard and I became the “young buck” of his Saturday operations . He was building a shed about 20 miles out in the country and he saw in me some free labor. So, he would come in the bedroom at about 4:30 am and declare, “Time to get up, boy.” I would groggily roll out of bed. We would head to the Gold Plate Restaurant for a hearty breakfast with hot, strong coffee and then head to the building site where I wished I hadn’t eaten quite so much.
Pops had acquired some huge, like 10×10 inch, used bridge timbers from the county. While he supervised, I began digging holes and setting these monstrous beams. Then, we (make that me) had the pleasure of trying to hoist them up to form the roof. Well, it near-bout killed me. We never finished the building and I am sure forty-four years later those timbers are probably still standing like some sort of South Georgia Stonehenge.
In the fall of 1975, at church one morning, I went from being a church goer to a Jesus follower. That day I finally figured out that being religious was not the same as having a relationship with Jesus. It was and is a big deal. Everyone was really happy that I had made that commitment. There were plenty of hugs and words of affirmation but none matched Pop’s. He simply said, “I knew there was something wrong with you, boy.” It was apparent Pops wasn’t gifted in the affirmation department. But that was Roy…that was Pops. I was pretty sure he loved me and I know loved him…especially since he didn’t shoot me.
So, about a year later, Judy and I were married and in spite of a bad heart he was there to walk her down the aisle. When Judy and I were assigned to Germany, Pops flew there twice to see us. When we were assigned to Missouri, here came Pops. He came out to see our new daughter and his new granddaughter, Rebecca. And then just six weeks later he was apparently working in his backyard there in South Georgia and sat down to rest. Sometime during the break, Jesus came and took him home. Pops was gone but the legend, the legacy lives on.
Roy Smith Allen had a lot of rough edges, a lot of warts, if you will. But buried somewhere beneath the rough exterior was a good hearted man. I’m sure he required a lot of God’s grace but don’t we all? None us could make the cut for heaven based on our own merit. We all are just like Pops…sinners in need of a graceful, loving God. The Book says that Jesus came to seek and to save lost people. People like Roy, people like me and people like you. And if we are willing to be found, He is will to forgive us and invite us into His family. In his backward way, that is what Pops did. Every time he called me “boy” he was calling me “son.” I like that. So if you find yourself bumping along in life, rough around the edges, you might try what Pops tried. It wasn’t church…it was Jesus. I know it changed my life. It didn’t make me perfect but it did make me forgiven. And the best part? In this crazy, upside-down world, He is always there. I can always go to Him, rest in Him. I know, He’s got this.