It was a hot and hazy afternoon.I was working a summer job in a tiny, nine-stooled diner after high school graduation.
That afternoon, my twin sister stopped by. We had the place to ourselves until a handsome young man with curly dark hair and blue, smiling eyes walked in. As his gaze connected with my sister’s, I saw something glimmer between them. And sure enough, before leaving the diner, they had a dinner date.
Five months later, I stood as the maid of honor at my twin’s wedding. I looked into the glowing face of the man who was now my brother-in-law, and saw his great love for my sister.
Two years later, their first daughter was born. Two years after that, Charlene, to the doctor’s surprise and to her shock, delivered unexpected twin girls. If Gary was shocked or surprised, he hid it well. He just said they were “doubly blessed,” as he proudly held one baby in each arm, looking at them with those smiling blue eyes.
Three years passed. Much to everyone’s surprise, Charlene was pregnant again. My sister was visibly shaken, but Gary could not have been happier. He truly believed that there are “no surprises” in God’s Kingdom, and that every baby is planned and purposed by the Lord. This fourth child was the son Gary had been praying for. The family was now complete.
Gary loved his family. Nothing seemed to rock this Godly man’s world. He was the spiritual leader in his home, and put God first in all things. I always knew the Lord was pleased with the love Gary had for Him and for his family.
Twenty-two years went by. Once again, I found myself standing close to my sister, only this time, it was in front of her casket. Leukemia had called her back home to the Father.
Gary stood beside me weeping. Although I was suffering a broken heart of my own, I was gravely concerned at the look of total devastation on his face. His usually smiling eyes were
full of tears. He had lost his soul-mate and best friend.
I watched and prayed, and I saw a man come back to the place God would have him to be. Once again, he was at peace with God and his world. His smiling eyes returned, deeper and brighter than I had remembered. His Lord and the children God entrusted to him became his focus and purpose in life again.
Three years after my sister died, a tragic car accident claimed the life of Gary’s son. Again, I stood at the casket with a man who had to say goodbye to the son he had believed God for. He looked confused and distant. His eyes were almost swollen shut by the rivers of tears he had wept. He could not be consoled.
What would happen to Gary? Would he curse God and die? Or would he, as Job of old, get through this pain?
His daughters were distraught, and angry with God. They threatened to turn away from the Lord they had been brought up to love and serve. They had lost their mother and now their only brother. Would Gary turn his back too? How much heartache is too much for one man to bear?
Again, I watched and prayed. And one day, his smiling eyes returned. I asked Gary where his pain had gone. He said, “I gave it to Jesus, and asked for His peace again. The Lord gives,
and the Lord can take away. I choose to bless His Name, no matter what.”
He again became a loving father, helping his girls through the grieving process. They made it through because of their Heavenly Father’s love shown through their earthly father’s heart.
I am happy to say that Gary has three happily married daughters, serving the Lord with their husbands. He is the proud grandfather of fourteen precious children. His oldest grandson carries the treasured name of Gary’s deceased son.
One day there will be a great family reunion in Heaven, and I will stand again by the side of my twin sister, with Gary and his son on her other side. I will look into his smiling eyes as he realizes he is home with them for all eternity. As for me, I will praise the Lord throughout the endless ages for that hot summer day so long ago in that tiny, nine-stooled diner.
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