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It is Well With My Soul

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I think about my Jake all the time. I think about him in heaven. I have since the day he died.

Now the strange thing is when my Dad died some 26 years before, I didn’t do the same thing. I felt sort of an immediate hole in my daily life that used to be filled by him but I didn’t specifically ‘see’ him in Heaven.

I have wondered at that.

Baptists do not have any theology that allows for purgatory as far as I know.

Being the bad Baptist that I am,  that theological lack has not predisposed me to ignore my wondering if Dad might not be in some netherland of afterlife that my senses somehow detected.

Don’t think I have gone around the bend here.

I am well aware that ‘feelings’ are not considered to be the most stable of data points.

However, and that’s a big however, we as people of the 21st century must recognize and start accepting that there are some things that do not make sense and never will. That doesn’t mean they aren’t true.

Love is hardly calculable in any terms that we like to prove things today.

With completely certainty, I can tell you I loved both of those men with every fiber of the being I am. Still do.

Its been curious to me that in the last two weeks I have thought about my dad a lot.

I know that part of it has to do with the race relations that are at the forefront of the news, social media and our hearts.

Realize please that my dad lived during the time and place of the Little Rock Nine. He rode buses at the front while the black community remained in the back. His culture was the one that continued to designate where black people could and could not venture. In that environment, he raised two children (who as best they could, in the poor white trash socio-economic status that they would have likely been designated) did not hold to the prejudice of his generation. To be truthful, he often expressed outright his wonder of how different his life would have been if he had happened to be born with dark skin. He didn’t think it would have been a good one.

Curiously, if you look at his social status, he already wasn’t in  that good a place.

Dad suffered his own kind of prejudice, that of the drunkard of the neighborhood. The southern Bible belt a real thing, at that time his alcoholism was seen as a lack of conviction of his sin. We were ostracized because of it.  The Christian truth was that he was no more of a sinner than everyone else.  He was just unfortunate in that his particular sin, at this particular time, made it easier for his neighbors to judge him and thereby declare themselves less sinful. And justified, to judge harshly and very  un-Christ like.

I heard a British theologian express almost the same logical conclusion as to why the sins of the LGBT community provide such fodder for less sinful Christians today, allowing a unique kind of prejudice and hurt to be ‘justifiably’ perpetrated on that particular group of believers.

Prejudice of any kind is horrible. And destructive. Its’ an evil commodity that God desires we ask for supernatural strength to rid in our hearts at all costs.

So what does this have to do with my dad, heaven and purgatory.

Yesterday I saw my dad in Heaven.

It happened when I was at worship.

It happened when we sang the song that I first heard at his funeral.

Thousands of voices sang the words. As I looked around the church auditorium, there were people of all color, ethnicity, and age. Harbored in their hearts are bound to be prejudices. But all of us were singing, ‘It is well with my soul.’

I realized then that my dad had heart knowledge of that very certain fact. When he left this earth, all was well with his soul. For every sin he had committed, despite any injustices he might have been dealt, the grace that covered him made him certain.

Why my understanding of this now, almost 40 years in the making? I don’t know. Is there such a thing as purgatory. I don’t know that either. How can I be certain of any of this? You might as well ask me why I still love my son, with all my heart, ten years gone.

It’s a long road that has led to the hot, unsettling, scary summer of 2016. It is good that Dad made sure his two children had some idea of the foulness of prejudice. And those two children taught their children. Maybe that knowledge, the importance of it, had to happen for me to see Dad with his Father, my Jake, and all those I know who wait for me in Paradise.

I am asking God to show me every incidence of prejudice in me. And I am amazed at His grace that covers me.

Today, I am singing it is well with my soul.

2 Responses

  1. My Dad and I sang this song as a duet when I was a Methodist teen-still morbidly shy, but happy to share the moment. Lots of family dysfunction, but when I hear this song, I am at peace about seeing my “Daddy” in heaven.

  2. God bless you, my dear friend & your precious mother too! ( I swear I’m getting chubbier from her fine cooking – everytime I see another video of her recipes, I have to prepare it!! 🙂

    Odd, really, your words this week. Well, not odd that you wrote them. I too have experienced such feelings with my own departed kin. It’s heartbreaking to hear & know of prejudice. I’m sure God has shed many a tear over us and our stupidity. I’m stunned that we create so much hatred in our inability to see others as ourselves. God bless your daddy. He was truly a wise man. I think you’ve nailed it for all of us: It’s the glory of God to conceal things…..He reveals when we least expect it. Ily

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