All the believers were together and had everything in common. ~Acts 2:44
Mac carried a picture of himself in his pocket. It was a picture of ‘back then.’ He wore a black ski mask rolled up on his head in the photo. He wore no smile. If you ran into the man in the picture, you would have been afraid. He looked angry; lost. It was a picture of Mac ‘back then.’ Mac liked to show the picture. It seemed to represent another life; another world; really, an entirely other man. The Mac I knew was a godly man. I can’t ever recall seeing him without a smile…
We drove for miles on McConnell’s Highway. We turned down another country road and drove for many more miles into the belly of the South. We passed fields and fields of cotton; not yet bursting forth the desired fruit of the farmer’s labor. I pondered in my head why more people don’t grow cotton plants for the beautiful flowers they produce.
We passed the remnants of crops at summer’s end and found our turn down a long dirt road. I wondered how anybody found this place. It led us to a country church where Mac was being buried.
Because we were led in through the back of the church and not through the usual entrance, we took the seat closest upon entering; the front pew. I guessed it was because Rob had been asked to speak that we dropped ourselves down at the front. Now, I am not a ‘front pew’ kinda girl, but nor do I like a spectacle trying to find a seat. I was keenly aware that the others on my pew were white folk. I was embarrassed by this seeming act of segregation in the house of God. It wasn’t intentional, but nonetheless, why was it so? In a holy place that held over six hundred people, eight or so white people gathered on a front pew.
Mac was sixty-one years old. He was the finest man I knew. There wasn’t a time that he didn’t visit us that he didn’t speak of the Lord. Mac had this distinct laugh and an infectious smile. Even as I conjure up images of him now, it is difficult for me to imagine Mac ‘back then.’ I only knew the Mac that loved the Lord with all of his heart. This Mac was the only one my children had ever known. He had been in their world for almost ten years; ever since they were born.
Seeing Mac every week, my children thought of him like a grandfather. Mac didn’t have any grandchildren, and he loved my kids. When Mac was diagnosed with cancer just a few months ago, we visited him regularly in the hospital. He would console us. The kids and I would take turns praying for a miracle. His greatest desire was the will of God. I don’t know that I have ever seen someone so trusting and accepting as Mac. Yes, he was on fire for the Lord. Now, six hundred people gathered to share his life story and his ‘home going.’
The service was different than what I was used to at a funeral. There were tears, laughter, clapping, outbursts, and praise; a roller coaster of emotions. The incredible gospel music followed the rhythm of stomping feet and the clapping of hands. It was the most heartfelt and beautiful music I had ever heard. Much of the sermon, the readings and kind words from friends were interjected with words such as, ‘Amen’, ‘Hallelujah’,’ Yes, Lord’,’ Come on’,’ Praise Him’, and ’ Uhhhmmmm.’
The service lasted almost three hours. I don’t think my children would have lasted so long, but they would have loved to have seen this wonderful service given in glory to God for a man that we all loved. I could have stayed three more hours.
For one of our visits to see Mac in the hospital, the children drew pictures of what they thought heaven would look like. Oh, he loved the visits with the children. On our last visit, he told us that he had seen ‘Paradise.’ I remember feeling so close to the Lord and to heaven, while sitting next to a man who had just seen a glimpse. Appropriately, my son drew a castle with a sign on the front saying, “Welcome to your Father’s House.” Not long after, Mac would go to that castle and stand outside the door where it read, “Welcome Mac. You are Home. Welcome to your Father’s House.”
I cried at this service for Mac. Rob recounted our friendship through the years and how Mac had impacted our lives. I thought of how my children had cried and the look on their little faces, when we told them Mac had passed. I cried because it was the most incredible service and sermon I had ever heard in my life.
I cried because Mac and I have something in common. We both have a photo of ‘back then.’ As the words were shared about his life, I could relate. I cried because this church was alive. It wasn’t afraid of shouting out praises. It wasn’t afraid of how it looked. It resonated with the most beautiful sound from the choir with just a simple beat. I could picture Mac’s procession to that front door of the Lord’s house while hearing the sound of his church choir with the slow hum and steady beat that burst into an incredible and glorious sound.
At some point, I found myself shouting out the same words that were being interjected by others during the service. I found myself standing with hands giving praise; unaware of the fact that I was the white girl on the front pew, who usually doesn’t like to draw attention. I might have looked in the minority, but I was in the majority of those who were there to worship the Lord and pay respect to a man we all loved. I felt love in this room; in this holy place to worship our Lord.
Mac and I have something else in common. We share the same Father. God doesn’t see the color of our hair or skin. He doesn’t care what we look like. He sees our hearts. When we stand outside the door, God doesn’t peak through the peep hole and decide based on what we look like, whether or not He will let us in. No, He sees our hearts.
Thank you, Mac for loving my family. You treated me like a sister. Brother, I hope to see you again when I come a knockin’ on the door of our Father’s House. You finished well, my friend. We will miss you.
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