When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it belongs.” Proverbs 3:27
And now you know the rest of the story. You might remember that line from Paul Harvey who used to tell some incredible stories from real life. He would tell the part that was known and then tell the part of the story that was not. He would always end with, “And now you know the rest of the story.” Well, today I want to tell you the rest of the story.
In the days right before last Christmas, I wrote a Grits story about my storied Christmas childhood. It was almost magical. Each year it seemed that Mama and Daddy pulled it all together, and that always meant sacrifice, and gave us a Christmas beyond our dreams. I cannot recall one Christmas that wasn’t incredible. I’ve heard stories from the generation that endured the Great Depression and they would speak of no Christmas or maybe just an apple or orange. My Daddy and Mama were part of that generation and I wonder if that is why they were so generous to us?
Well, in that story I talked about my Daddy’s old 410 shotgun. Every Christmas morning, long before sunrise, he or one of my older brothers would go on the back porch or the breezeway and shoot the old 410. It was like firing the pistol at a horse race. We knew it was time to race into the room to see what Santa had brought. I mentioned in the story that I wasn’t sure who had the gun—this priceless family heirloom. I knew it was somewhere but where?
While I had four brothers, five including me, there are only two of us left. We are the bookends—he the oldest (soon to be 84) and me the youngest (a long way from 84). Christmas night I received a message from my brother. He wrote that he had read my story about Daddy’s old 410 and that I had mentioned that I didn’t know what had happened to it. He shared with me that he had the gun. Shortly after our Daddy died in 1974 it came into his possession and he had it ever since. What he wrote next made the Christmas of 2020 one for the books.
My brother said, “Dewayne, I want you to have Daddy’s old 410.”
My brother said, “Dewayne, I want you to have Daddy’s old 410.” I couldn’t believe it, so I read it again and I had indeed read the message correctly. Tears instantly began streaming down my cheek as I shared the text with my wife, Judy. He said he had already talked to his son who was helping with his affairs and let him know his desire to pass it to me. Well, Judy and I had already made plans to go to Cookeville, Tennessee right after Christmas so I told her that we needed to head to Jacksonville when we were done there so I could go and pick up the gun…and we did.
We drove hundreds of miles and a whole lot of hours to go get “the old 410.” I couldn’t see the brother who had blessed me due to COVID, as he and his wife life in an assisted living home. I did get to sit and visit with his son who is only six years younger than me. The gun (not a gun but THE gun) and that visit made every mile and every hour worthwhile. If I am still alive when my brother passes, I will probably have the opportunity to share at his service. I already am extremely thankful for him—his fingerprints are all over my life. But that day I will share this story and how his thoughtfulness made the Christmas of 2020 one I will never forget.
The old 410 sits right to my left as I write this. I showed it to my oldest grandson and his dad. We always spend Christmas Eve night with them. I smiled from ear to ear when my son-in-law leaned over and said, “Papa, you will have to bring the old 410 to our house next year so we can shoot it off Christmas morning.” That sounds like a grand idea and if the Lord is willing that is exactly what we will do.
The Bible says that we shouldn’t withhold good from a person when it is within our power to grant it. I am so grateful my brother didn’t wait. He could have. He could have passed it to someone else, but instead he chose his baby brother who just happened to write a story. Me, my Daddy, my uncle and each of my brothers have hunted with this gun—it is a beautiful piece of our family legacy. It is now one of my most cherished possessions.
So, let’s watch for opportunities to bless someone when it is within our power. I know Jesus was really good at that and if we are Jesus followers, well, we should follow His lead. I wonder if the Whisperer whispered in my brother’s ear and he just listened. I wouldn’t be surprised—he and Jesus are pretty tight. And when it is our turn to be kind, well, don’t worry. He will whisper to you too, and rest assured He will give you the wisdom and ability you need. He’s got this.