Sunday, August 7, 2011

Welcome to Your Father's House

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.

Blessings on this 'Life Lessons' Sunday!
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At The Picket Fence said...

Oh Christie. Your words, your feeling...I am there with you on that pew. What a tribute to Mac, your words have engraved him onto my soul. Thank you for sharing this special, tender day with us. May the peace of our Savior be with you and your family as you remember your many special memories with Mac.
Love you.

At The Picket Fence said...

Tears are streaming down my face right now Christie. Thank you so much for giving me this gift...this testimony of an amazing Godly man's life...on this Sunday morning! :-)
Blessings to you friend,

Nola said...

Oh! Thank you so much for sharing this testimony of this man, Mac. What a tremendous person he must have been to leave behind just a great legacy. Isn't it wonderful to go to a church where no one is afraid to share out loud? I love it and it says so much for how we should all be "sharing out loud". You lifted my day! Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing such an uplifting story with us.
God Bless

Linda Stubbs said...

Christie, I love coming to your place of refuge here on your blog. I also share your Jesus. This post was precious!It is wonderful that you take your children with..........Mac was blessed! Sorry for your loss. It is wonderful that blacks and whites all have the same color blood........I love that about our creator

I remember when my sweet man was invited to his friends church. He was the pastor. We had three stair step boys. When we entered the church we were the only white people there. Andy (friend) was the pastor and he looked to the back........the service had just started and saw us and out loud welcomed us! Our son's were probably around 6, 9 and 12. Everyone started clapping and amening. Oh my, it was a very warm greeting, but I am like you! We praised the Lord in a whole new way at that church that morning! Our son's still talk about their Daddy giving them such cultural training.......they smile and tell their children now!

Blessings to your day, I will keep you and fam in prayer,

jvw home said...

Just adored this post, your words are beautiful & well said.....
have a blessed day!

chris said...

that was so very sweet. i think not only your family but the world will miss him... the world just doesnt know it. thanks for sharing a little bit of mac and let me know there are people out there, ready to impact our faith and our lives..

Twigs said...

I loved this post and am in awe of your ability to put pen to your thoughts so sweetly.

Privet and Holly said...

Christie, what
a beautiful post.
Your family's love
for Mac was shining
through each word.
I bet he smiled from
heaven seeing you
lifting him up with
the rest of the flock!
xx Suzanne

Kim said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a lovely man.

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Christie, What a beautiful tribute to your friend! Thank you for sharing this special time with us.

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

An incredible testimony and tribute, Christie!

Rita's Recipes said...

Your home is beautiful and I love the lake view! I'm your newest follower.
Visit sometime.

Michele Smith said...

Such a beautiful tribute to your friend. I felt like I was right there with you in that church.
Thank you for sharing.

ps. I am visiting from Sherry's and your newest follower!
May you have a wonderful week!

Pinky at Designs by Pinky said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend and "brother". How wonderful that God brought you 2 together!!! I am here from Sherry's but plan to start following you now. Your home is gorgeous! XO, Pinky

Linda said...

Beautifully said, Christie. I would have liked your friend, Mac. Thank you for sharing him with us like this.

Lesslie said...

My favorite post by you! Sounds like Mac provided much more to your family than the employment you gave him. What a sweet blessing from our Father. I wish I could have met Mac. The great thing is I know I will one day!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Oh Christie! This is a beautiful meaningful and inspiring post! God bless you for sharing your friend Mac and his impact for the Lord! The service sounds like one I would have loved to be a part of... and Mac would have been so pleased!

I too, have a "before" picture and... I too share the same Father. I'll look for Mac when I go to our Father's house. And someday you and I will walk arm and arm talking and laughing and sharing our praises for our Father in His house! What a day that will be!
You touch my heart, dear one!
Love, Yvonne

Aimee Porter said...

This is my favorite post! I am still wiping away the tears. Your writing is so beautful, raw and honest. Thank you for sharing your family's connection to this Godly man.
Much love, Aimee

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