Some people don’t get along with their in-laws, but I had an advantage going in to my relationship with my wife that most don’t: I got to know her mom, Denise, really well, as we were part of the same bible study. Before Michaelene and I really got to know one another, and, when our study group would gather outside of study times for fellowship I also got to know my future Father-in-law, Mike. Mike was always quiet, though we always had something to say to one another (I found out later that he was hard of hearing and strongly disliked his hearing aids; they didn’t always work and were uncomfortable, so he often opted not to wear them). When Michaelene and I started dating, I got to know her dad even more. He would tell me stories about Michaelene growing up, how she always would greet him when he got home from work and ask how his day was. He loved all of his kids with all of his heart, and I knew there was a special bond between Mike and his namesake. When Michaelene and I got engaged, Mike pulled me aside and began pouring in to me wisdom on how to make a marriage work, and I’ll never forget what he said as the day arrived “this is just one day, it’s the rest of your lives that you have to make count.” A year ago October, my In-laws flew out to Oklahoma for my little brother’s wedding. They drove back with us to Arkansas, and, since we took two cars, Mike drove with me and two of our boys the entire way back. The entire 6 hours of the trip, we talked. I had some Marty Robbins, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and other “old country” on my phone, and since my radio doesn’t work, we listened to that through a blue tooth speaker. He said he loved listening to that music when he was younger. We talked about his childhood on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border, his relationship with his parents, His uncle who’s still alive in Alabama, the church Michaelene and I grew up in, we talked about his faith (he was a believer in Christ but wanted to know more) and questions about God, the Bible and worship. I’ll never forget that trip as long as I live. It was wonderful, connecting with Mike in a way I had never got to before. As we pulled in to our destination, Mike asked me if he could come to me with any questions about the Bible and God as they arose, and I, of course, said yes. Over the last year, we didn’t get much of an opportunity for those questions, though we talked as often as we were able. The last few months, we saw his health in decline, though it appeared he would yet recover, and we all prayed for better than new recovery. Yesterday, Mike had all of his questions and prayers answered, as he went home to be with the Lord and saw Jesus face to face. He is healthy, whole, and far beyond anything I could imagine as He is perfected in the presence Christ. I will miss him. I will miss our moments and our talks. Yet I take comfort in knowing that Jesus has the victory over His life. I am grateful for his daughter who bears his name, and I pray that I can honor and treasure, and make the life I have with her count. I am praying for my mother-in-law, who, for the first time in 50 years, must face life alone. I pray for my wife and her siblings, and all of us spouses, who now have to spend every day apart from their dad. I pray for my kids and nieces and nephews who no longer have Papa to call on. Yet in the middle of all of this, I thank God for Jesus and His Victory over death, and, through my mourning, I still thank God that Mike, through Jesus, now fully realizes it all. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “Godc has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
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