By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be over and leftovers dwindling in the refrigerator. I don’t know if the Cowboys won or lost their game Thursday, being as I write this a few days before but I feel the world with keep spinning either way. I am thankful we have the Cowboys to root for each Thanksgiving but my passion for professional sports has cooled somewhat over the years. I guess I’m just getting older or don’t care too much for the politics included.
A farmer passed away last week after a life filled with God, family and farm. He died just before Thanksgiving. Hospice workers told the family they might want to plan their Thanksgiving sooner rather than later as he was fading fast and probably wouldn’t last long. And so it came to be. The old farmer was 86. His wife had gone on to her reward ahead of him, and he was struggling with a terminal illness. When the cancer came back, he refused further treatment, telling the doctors he preferred to go be with his wife and Jesus than go through another round of treatment. He finished his last days at home, doing as he had always done, as best he could. The last week or so of his life, hospice and children came to stay with him in shifts. He spoke to some from out of town a day or so before he passed. He said he would hang on till everyone got there. He did.
At his bedside, the whole family gathered around and said their goodbyes. They sang old familiar hymns and prayed over him. It was said he spoke his wife’s name twice in those final moments. Then he quietly and peacefully took a final two breaths and passed away, a lifelong farmer from North Texas, mind and faith strong, undimmed by age, into the waiting arms of Jesus and his wife. I was so impressed when told of his stoic resolution, of his determination to wait until all had come, but most of all- with his faith. What an inspiration. I am sure the family, although grieving, will gain strength and wisdom from his example.
So it’s Thanksgiving and we should all be thankful for something. The story of our life is in layers. In the greater sense, we are members of a community, of a state, of a union founded on the concept of liberty and justice for all. I wonder if we are getting closer or farther away from that goal. Was America truly ‘endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights’ or was this just fancy talk from the authors?
Some today will say an American founding principal was ‘freedom from religion.’ That is incorrect. It is ‘freedom of religion.’ I think belief in God was so fundamental a part of our country’s fabric it wasn’t even an issue. Their aim was for all citizens to have the right to freedom of choice where it came to faith and we were a people united in freedom and faith. We seem to be losing ground on both. What a cold and cruel world we seem determined to create when we strip away individual freedom of expression for so called political correctness. And how empty is a life without faith in something greater than our mere lives.
There are folks out there who simply do not believe in God. This is their loss, in my opinion, but they are exercising their freedom of choice, and that’s their right. But there is a darker backside. Many unbelievers seem to not be satisfied to simply have no faith, they want to attack and belittle the believer.
So what if there is no God? What if there is no ever-after? What if all we have is what we see before us? Do not we still desire a happy and productive life? Would it not be just as powerful and inspirational and fulfilling to follow the teachings of the gospel and of Jesus? I think so.
Every once in a while, I have my doubts. I suppose I am like a lot of people in that. It is times like these I look to the example of the old farmer who left this world with his family at his side, speaking his wife’s name, looking forward to what came next. In that faith I am comforted. His firm belief supported him, strengthened him, gave him purpose and made his life complete. Eternity, to believers, is real. And there is life after death even in the world left behind. A man’s reputation and example lingers and inspires those who come after. For his example, I am thankful. Let us all find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season.