Did you ever cross paths with someone who was both loveable and exasperating at the same time? Then you will understand why we could identify with Charles Dickens’ statement, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
As young newlyweds our occupation involved ministry, and in fulfilling it, we were alert to helping those in need. And Buck certainly qualified.
He lived just down the street. And he could try every last ounce of our patience.
He would come to church inebriated. One day Buck told my husband he wanted to get up on the platform sometime and sing a special song. He had it all planned.
“I’ll walk up the aisle as I start singing,” he said, “and I’ll have a blond on one side and a brunette on the other. The spotlight will be on me.” Yes, he wanted to be in the spotlight.
Fortunately there were no openings for a drunken lead singer and his two lady friends, who probably existed in his imagination.
My husband would walk to Buck’s little house to see that he had food to eat. If we hadn’t seen him for a few days we knew he would be lying in his house, dead-drunk. King Alcohol had taken hold of the man and ruined whatever usefulness he could have had.
Sometimes my husband would clean Buck’s house and try to persuade him to change his ways. At least once, when on a drinking spree, our friend chased my husband out of his house with a butcher knife. He apologized the next day, still unwilling to admit he had a problem.
Buck had his chance one Sunday to make peace with God.
Standing with the rest of the congregation at the close of a church service, he trembled, white knuckles gripping the back of the seat in front of him. He had to walk only a dozen steps to the front of the church and admit he needed help. God was speaking to his mind and heart in a strongly persuasive way. Unfortunately, our friend chose to turn away from the only One who could offer a permanent solution.
And then one day the Lord impressed upon my husband that Buck totally revered the prayers of his mother. Sitting in Buck’s living room he said, “Do you think your mother would say you were ready for heaven?”
Buck hung his head, his bravado gone. He got down on his knees and asked God to forgive him for sinning against Christ’s sacrifice.
So, how did his life end? It was a bit of a mystery. Buck’s elderly sister called several days later, when my husband was away on business. She asked me to go to his house and see if I could get him to answer his door, because he hadn’t answered his phone that week.
It’s the mercy of God that his door was locked, and I couldn’t get in. I was expecting a baby, and the shock of what I would have seen would have been traumatic in my condition.
When the police finally broke the door down, they found the lifeless body of our friend lying on the floor beside his bed, however clean at last. A mother’s prayers—and God’s extreme mercy-- had followed Buck, all the way to the end of his wasted life.
Eternity—it’s only a breath away.
What about you? Any experiences with life and death situations? We would like to see your comments below.