I got to see with my own eyes something I never thought I’d see: a grown man of 70 at the foot of the cross.
Pops was a navy man, his friends called him ‘Judge Jefferies’, a man familiar with the corporate environment, a man who found himself at ease practising the principles of Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to win friends and influence people’.
It was at Pops’ feet that I learned how to socialise, how to be a husband and a father, how to make sense of the world.
As I heard it told, he plucked me from a backwash going out to sea when I was a sprite. I remember getting into some trouble and hiding from his righteous wrath in a tree, which only prolonged the inevitable. Without remembering the specifics, I’m quite sure I was justifiably in trouble.
I remember safari suits, navy ‘tats, a Fiat with a faulty accelerator one morning on the way to school.
I remember I would pray for the salvation of my family. And I remember in that awful season of June 2011 when we mourned as a family for my sister. My Pops got the moment right, and went to the foot of the cross, and gave his heart to the Lord.
You could just tell, God was at work in the midst of our mourning.
He always had a liking for Psalm 103, which begins: Bless the Lord O my soul.
Bless the Lord O my soul. The Psalmist tells his soul to get in on the act, to praise God. Who feels like praising God at a memorial service? Or when life has pounded us like a pugilist? We have to because its right to praise God.
Because even this tragedy serves His purpose, and if God can do that, then he deserves our praise.
Because Pops is alive as he’s ever been, in the presence of the Lord, and surely I can take a good guess at what his soul is doing.