My father had five brothers and four sisters and I didn’t trust any of them; maybe just one of’em.
They had been raised by a father that drank moonshine whiskey and had once cut the throat of his youngest son with a hook bill knife. His signature knife was normally used for cutting plugs of cheap chewing tobacco. Uncle Tom survived this little family spat; he was always a cut-up.
My Uncle John had a pet monkey in World War II while serving his country in the South Pacific. Known as Big John, he trained the monkey to be on guard for snipers and dangerous animals. Uncle John cried like a baby when the United States Army wouldn’t let him bring the monkey back home to Tennessee.
I wish he had treated wife as good as the monkey. Everyone in the family knew that my Uncle John beat her and treated her awful. She always seemed so very sad.
My Uncle Oz got married one time and took his bride to the big city of Memphis on the honeymoon. After several days of being tied down, he asked her to wait for him on a street corner while he went around the corner to buy a pack of smokes. He never returned.
Every once in a while, Uncle Oz would jump off a freight train that ran by our house and he’d stay for a week or so. Then one day, he’d be gone.
He always came back, until we heard he had been struck by an automobile in Florida while stepping into a busy street. No one went to his funeral.
My Uncle Noah fell off a large building while working as a steel worker. He got a wad of money as a settlement, but it was gone in no time at all. Later, he met and married a little widow lady. She had a nice house, car, and money in the bank. He sweet talked her into selling her house and traveling the country. They lived it up; for a while. When the money finally ran out in South Florida, Uncle Noah left her high and dry.
Uncle Noah died in a rundown nursing home alone and in tremendous pain.
I’m not going to write about the black sheep of the family, so I’ll stop here. My family has caused me so much shame and pain. About a decade ago I tried to find a clue or reason for our bad choices and knuckleheaded ways.
I discovered that my grandpa’s dad had committed suicide when grandpa was just twelve years old. My grandpa found his father lying in a puddle of fresh blood with a hook bill knife laying on the ground next to his body. His throat had been cut.
The constable ruled the tragedy a suicide. The family left the farm in great shame and soon my grandpa started working in a cotton mill as a kid and was forced to grow up rough and tough. My great grandma sold the land to a neighbor.
Twenty-five years later that neighbor confessed on his death bed to the murder. He set it up to look like a suicide. He murdered my grandpa’s dad for the timber land he had tried to purchase for many years. He figured the widow would have to sell the land. He was right, but he was so wrong in what he did.
I think this cruel act of murder, first thought to be suicide, launched by family into chaos. So many people were hurt by this sin. So many lives were wrecked by the devastation and aftershocks of this sin.
At the age of twenty-three, I found the total and awesome forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He has taught me that the future is more important than the past. My past tried to make me say, “Uncle!”
The evil one whispered in my ear the first time I walked into church, “Just who do you think you are?” He said, “You are going to end up just like your uncles and your old man.”
Thank you Jesus for breaking the strongholds of sin in my life; I love you and praise your Holy Name!
Living in the grip of grace is so much better than living in the coil and squeeze of a root of bitterness and the constant pressure of the pain of the past.
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