I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me.” Jesus in John 14:6
It was Monday…and my brother died. It wasn’t a total surprise as we knew his health was deteriorating. He and his wife had been living in an assisted living facility for several years. As he grew older, as often happens, his body began to wear out and finally Monday morning it just quit working. He not only was my brother, but he was my oldest brother. He was seventeen years older than me and in so many ways he was more than just a brother…he was like a second father. To a large degree he helped mold me into who I am today…especially spiritually. My brother was a believer, a Jesus follower and if I may say so…a pretty good one at that. In fact, I can’t remember him ever not being a Jesus follower.
He was the one who always made sure I had a ride to church. He was one of those three-time-a-week goers, so I suppose that is why it has been a habit in my life too. Over the years, he shared a lot of good advice with me…advice that has guided me along my journey. When I became a pastor, he offered me some Godly wisdom and for my birthday gifted me with a couple of foundational books. At one of the churches I pastored, he felt led to lend a hand financially…something he did for more than a few years. He was like a father but he also was like the State Farm commercial that says, “just like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” He was always there. Oh, we lived in different parts of the country…but that didn’t matter. That’s how some relationships are.
My brother wasn’t just my oldest brother…he was my last brother. When he left town on Monday for a bigger and better place, I looked around and realized I was the last brother standing. And that was another of those, “mortality moments.” He was just shy of 86 when he left here and went there—there being heaven. Eighty-six is a pretty good number, especially for men and especially for Taylor men. At first there were five of us Taylor men and three had already changed addresses—thankfully all in heaven. So, that left the bookends—my oldest brother at one end and me, the youngest at the other. He lived a long, good life…not the richest guy, not the most popular guy, and not the most powerful guy. In the end those don’t matter anyway. What matters is he was a Jesus guy. He made a difference. He made an impact. He left a legacy.
So, what happened that Monday morning when the last heartbeat came? Often our first thought is something bad happened. Well, I guess you could say God, through His Word, helped me have a different view. As I looked at all of this, death, life, and all that it entails, it seemed God said, “Dewayne, this isn’t bad…it’s just hard.” It immediately became lodged not in my throat but in my heart. Not.Bad.Just.Hard. Now don’t misread this, because there is plenty of bad in the world but with God painted into the picture, His grace and mercy can change bad to just hard.
You see, when my brother’s heart stopped the other day, he gave up a broken world for one that is perfect. He gave up a broken body for one that is perfect. He gave up sickness, tears, and sadness for a place where none of that exists. No assisted living, no hospitals, no funeral homes—just a home like none we can ever imagine—at home with his Dearest Daddy. See, it’s hard for us, sometimes really hard for us, however for him…no…he’s doing better than ever before. You might say that he is more alive than ever before.
My brother loved our family reunions and guess what? There is one coming that will outshine them all. Because of my pastoral responsibilities and distance, I didn’t make too many of the reunions but this one coming up…I’ll be there. Oh, it isn’t because I’m a preacher, or go to church, or belong to one denomination or another. No, just like my brother, I’ll be there because I am a Jesus guy and He is the way to the reunion of all reunions. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Me.” Yes, it is a narrow road but the grand part is everyone is invited to participate. All you have to do is say, “Yes” to Jesus.
So, my brother died…well…actually His body died but not him. I’ll see him again and that’s not bad. The separation is hard but there is a party coming…one for the ages. You need to know that God wants you there also, and He made it possible for that to happen. Jesus, faith, grace, and mercy. Indeed, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne