He was a fixture in the neighborhood for years. Every morning, like clockwork, he ambled down the sidewalk beside our house, enjoying the fresh air and frequently stopping to visit with friends along the way. While out for my morning run several days a week we often crossed paths, and I came to look forward to our occasional chats. He filled me in on his wife and the grandson that was living with them temporarily, and I gave him the latest on my various projects. Last summer, I had a chance to share my faith with him. He listened politely, but said he didn’t need a crutch to get through life. Oh how I protested that Jesus is a crutch! I couldn’t imagine anything further from the truth. Instead, I referenced Isaiah 40:31 and told him that having the Lord in your life is more like being lifted up on wings so that you can fly in the midst of life’s difficulties! But he was resolved in his unbelief. As one might expect of an 84-year old.
I knew the day would come, but it still sent me into momentary shock tonight when my sister relayed the news that the obituaries in last week’s paper listed dear Mr. Wes Gum. He breathed his last on January 31. Only a week before, Dad and I were walking back from breakfast and I had a chance to introduce Dad to the man he had heard me speak of on multiple occasions. He looked as fit as ever and responded in his customary pleasantness when queried as to how he was doing. Little did he know that in a week he would take his final trip around the block. Little did any of us know. I prayed often for Wes over the last year, but never again conversed on matters of faith. I wish I would have. Death has such a way of bringing eternity into focus. If only I could remember every day to pour my time and effort into things of eternal value. My heart is sad. I will miss Wes Gum.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
2 Timothy 4:1-2