My grandfather passed away. It’s been just over two weeks.
I’ve never experienced death before this. I know it’s only God that’s helped us through. I know there will be sad days, but right now I can raise my hands and sing “It is well”, because it is. Papa is not confined to a painful, limited body. He is free to worship in the place where the Elders bow to Jesus and cast their crowns at His feet. He can endlessly sing holy to God amidst the never ceasing choir of angels… it is well.
God really is always good to us, even in pain, even when we wonder why Papa’s body had to pass from this life. We need to remember that he loved God and was living in God’s calling.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)
Papa lived a good, long life. He enjoyed his kids and grandkids, stayed strong in the faith, and died in love with Jesus Christ, the God of our salvation. How wonderful.
Everything that’s been said of him was true .
“He was a giver.
He knew how to appreciate what he had.
He cherished people.
He was always the first to bring you encouragement.
He wasn’t afraid to give all he had for the higher call.
People’s feelings were always more important to him than the material things.
Everyone needs someone like Danny,” they’d say, and every bit of it is true.
He is an example worth following; but his life is only worth following because he followed after the One life to be followed. He lived to serve.
In all that has been said of him, I’ve concluded it to fit into this one phrase… people matter.
That was his life song. People matter. He lived by it. But that wasn’t all he lived by. He lived to please God. He fell in love with our Savior and, in turn, desired all that our Lord desired. To Jesus, people matter. And to Papa, Jesus mattered. So, in him giving himself to serving God, he gave himself to serving others. To serving people. Because people do matter.
Some may say, “We should be less focused on people and more focused on the living Word of God.” We need to understand, though, that to be focused on God is to be focused on people; because God is focused on people.
Every page of our Bible speaks, “People matter to Me”.
The Gospel is page upon page of God screaming “You matter to Me. You are my people and you matter.” Jesus came to our sin filled world (Isaiah 9:6; John 12:46). He obeyed the perfect will of God. He served people. He lived to die for us. He endured unimaginable torture (Luke 9:22). He flooded past the gates of Hell and took the keys to life and death (Revelation 1:18). He came back to us to prove that He’d not leave us (Matthew 28:19-20). He gave us the power He had on this earth (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5; 1:8). And He sent us out to serve people (John 21:15). He sent us to finish His work. People do matter.
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
Papa loved Jesus. Proof? He fed the lambs and the sheep. Papa taught truth to the children and spoke the Words of God to everyone around him. His children and grandchildren were fed the truth. He’d always spend time with the youth at his church and his nieces and nephews because he loved the early minds. He was feeding the lambs. He was feeding the sheep.
Over the past few weeks, since he’s been gone, a myriad of people have come to us and told us how Papa was like a father to them. He’d make you feel so loved. He invested in the lives of the young and old. The children and the adults. The loved and the unloved. He was there for people. He showed up, and he fed the sheep.
Papa didn’t just fill our bellies with the pleasurable things. He fed us with sustenance. He fed Jesus’ sheep with the truth. He taught us to pray for understanding in God’s Word. He taught us the way to have eternal life. He told us of the plans and path it takes to get to Heaven. When our hearts were pricked and we wondered what to do, he’d remind us of the only thing there is to do, “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39). He reminded us of the promises.
Papa taught unity. He taught peace. He showed us that there was something bigger than this life and it’s worth pursuing. He told us the things we needed to do, even when they weren’t the things we wanted to do. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:1-7). To Papa people were worth dying for. He suffered much pain and physical illness part of his life and in every season of weakness and hurt, he’d remind himself and us that God is good and that there is a higher call. His words ring in my ears. “If just one soul is save through all of this, it will be worth every bit of it.” If one life is drawn back to God and falls as deeply in love with Him as I am, every pain and tear will be worth more than I can give. That was his mind set. And I believe that far more than one soul has been and will be brought to the truth and love of Jesus through Papa’s life.
One of my cousins spoke at the burial the day after Papa’s funeral.
He read the scripture, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22); a scripture that needs to be copied down, carved in our minds, and plastered on the walls. Jake read this verse and spoke truth. Maybe I won’t quote it exactly how he did, but he said this and it stuck so tight to me.
“It’s not enough to be doers of good. We have to be like Danny and be doers of truth“. -Jake Walden-
Not just doers of good, doers of truth. Wow. I’m awe struck by the clarity and distinction between “just good” and “the truth” It’s not enough to do the good things if we’re not doing the true things that are the infallible Word’s of the Lord. Like Papa, we must be doers of truth.
One scripture that I can say his life showed over abundantly is this, “…faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). In fact, I think Papa must’ve read the book of James a lot. He lived what it teaches. He worked, and not for the vain things, but for the good things, for the true things. I feel like this verse fits into Papa’s story so well. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18).
Many times Papa quoted these words, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8). That’s exactly what he did, too. He thought on the good things. He lived to love. He served people. He worshiped and loved and talked with and lived a life for Jesus. For this man I am thankful.
. . .
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” (I Peter 5:10-11)
Our pastor, Pastor Tim Hammond, preached a message Sunday night about Papa. It’s titled “Danny’s Day”. I’d love for you to go watch it.