My earliest and fondest memories of my Father were at age two or three. I was always right there with him in the middle of everything, and causing all manner of mischief. One day we were washing the car, and I got the hose and started chasing him around, and soaking him. When he ran one way around the house to turn the hydrant off, I went the other and cut him off, spraying him even more! It was great fun. Mom and Dad took my victory picture standing atop the concrete well cover, my cloth diaper soaked and drooping. There were many, many more adventures. Me and my brother Stan, and Mom and Dad had a great family growing up!
Dad had an eighth grade education. Mom graduated high school, and wanted to go to college. They married in 1950 with only $13 between them. Dad eventually came to work for the gas company, and later he became a natural gas pipeline contractor. He was the president of their company, and of course, my Mom was his ‘chief financial officer.’ Their company grew till at its largest they had some thirteen pipeline crews working in three states. My brother and I grew up working on those crews. Much of what my Father taught me was on-the-job training coupled with his example.
Mom and Dad have been more than loving parents to me. They are my heroes. They taught me how to dream, and told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. At age four, like many children, I talked about growing up to be a doctor. They fanned the flame of a my small boy’s hope into a reality.
While we were losing Dad these last few weeks, we celebrated the birth of his newest great grandchild. In God’s grand scheme, when he breathed the breath of life into Adam and Eve, it rushed in to create their spirit, and continued on flowing to each and every child since. Like a wave, it peaks with each new life, and then slowly ebbs away. That crashing wave of God’s breath, bursting forth in Dad’s newest great granddaughter, has now also receded from him.
Though Dad’s gone from this place, his spirit is not lost. Today he stands whole and healed, alongside a host of family and friends who have gone before him. Still, death is a wholly unnatural state for our spiritual being. When our body returns to dust, where exactly is our soul? Where are the dead, and where is my Father now?
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave us the authoritative answer. His story about Lazarus and the rich man, is not fable, nor parable. It is a true story. Lazarus was carried away to Abraham’s bosom. Now the word bosom is translated from a primary word meaning a bay or a creek. It is a place of calm and peace, away from the harsh waves of the open ocean.
Jesus Christ confirmed his story as he hung on the cross when he told the repentant thief, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Paradise is translated from an original word meaning a park, i.e., an Eden, or a place of future happiness.
Dad told me on many occasions recently, that Jesus was waiting for him. And so in the middle of our heartbreak, I am reassured. He is in that paradise, that place of peace, waiting. Whether by death or rapture, I will someday follow him.
All our hopes hinge on whether Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, or just some great moral teacher. I like what C. S. Lewis says in his book Mere Christianity.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Lazarus called him Lord. The thief called him Lord. I call him Lord.
And most importantly today, I know my Father calls him Lord. ♥
Earl Smith age 84 of Arkadelphia died Sunday, December 14, 2014. He was born April 22, 1930 in Enola, AR the son of Vance and Ruth Joslin Smith. He was a retired pipeline contractor. Earl was a 32nd Degree Mason and served as past Grand Patron of Arkansas Eastern Star. Earl was a member of Third Street Baptist Church. He was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Laura Smith, three brothers, Carl, R. V., and Pete Smith, three sisters, Darnell Collins, Annie Hickman, and Bobbie Jean Eubanks.
Survivors include his wife, Jean Frazier Smith, two sons, Stanley Smith and his wife Beth of Little Rock and Ronnie Smith and his wife Stacy of Atlanta, GA, three brothers, Freddie Smith of Paris, TX and Vance Smith Jr. and Mickey Smith both of Arkadelphia, one sister, Ruthie Fulmer of Arkadelphia, four grandchildren, Andrea Marrero, Amy Mascoe, John Nix, and Quade Smith, six great grandchildren, Harrison, Bennett, Emmaline and Adelle Marrero and Jolie and Landry Mascoe.
Funeral services will be 1:30 PM Wednesday, December 17th at Third Street Baptist Church with Pastor Greg Latham officiating. Burial will be in Rest Haven Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be 6-8 PM Tuesday at Ruggles-Wilcox Funeral Home in Arkadelphia.
Memorials may be made to Third Street Baptist Church or Arkansas Hospice of Hot Springs. Sign on line guest book at www.ruggleswilcox.com.