Where should I start? At the beginning. There is not a time in my life when Uncle George was not in my life. Of course, as a child we don’t understand such things, so it wasn’t until much later that I came to appreciate how important his influence was when I was a kid. Many times you would have seen a boy walking from a farm, across the fields to visit his cousins on another farm. (If you look at that place now you’ll see Bayberry North.) I always felt welcome in Aunt Pat and Uncle George’s home. It was a safe place for me. Of course, part of what made it safe was the fact that at home, as the littlest boy, I had enough big brothers doing what big brothers do. The cousins were closer to my size and also friends.
For me – the most defining statement I can make is that Uncle George was a Christian man – a man who knew and trusted his God. He didn’t say he was a Christian and not live it. He knew what God expected from His children and he lived it.
The heart of God showed through him.
He had a truly tender heart and cared about people. Many times I saw his tenderness towards people when a tear would come into his eye when he heard about the things people were going through – or he choked up and couldn’t finish when sharing the difficulties he saw people facing. I never saw a judgmental spirit – just compassion.
Yet with all his tenderness he had an incredible strength. Uncle George proved that gentleness and kindness are not a sign of weakness. They are anchored in strength. For Uncle George it was strength of character and dependence on God. With the knee pain he dealt with, I never heard him complain and never heard of him complaining. As he grew older he moved a bit slower, but he was always ready with a smile and a kind word.
Uncle George was a great constant in a world where faithfulness to God and family are all too rare.
A personal joy in my life came when aunt Pat and uncle George began attending our church. Seeing them on Sunday mornings has been very special for me.
At first I wasn’t sure why this was the most emotional part of what I’ve written. But I think its this.
We live in a culture that idealize and glorifies youth, physical health and beauty as if they are the ultimate goal and pinnacle of all human accomplishment. What a sad and shortsighted perspective that is. Somehow we have glorified youth when youth really is no more than potential. Potential without moral guidance is destructive energy in so many lives and leaves nothing more than appearing to have a good start and broken dreams.
Potential yielded to God and guided by His wisdom with discipline and perseverance yields great rewards.
There are times that we may feel like there couldn’t be anything more beautiful in life than the picture of a young couple firmly clasping young strong hands and joining joyous hearts as they start their life together. We see that and we might ask “Can there really be something more beautiful than young love?” Well, actually yes, I have seen a far more beautiful thing. It is the beautiful and inspiring vision of an old man and an old woman - faithfully finishing their journey together on that path they started out on such a short time ago – a path that has taken them places they never could have imagined when they started – a journey filled with love and laughter, children, grandchildren, even great grandchildren. (Even a nephew) They don’t stand as tall or move as fast, but their hands are still firmly clasped and in the many ways that really matter the most, are stronger than ever through years of companionship; their faces are seamed, but still radiant, but now with the priceless satisfaction of finishing well with love and devotion for one another.
Absolutely, there is a more beautiful thing than young love.
A life genuinely well lived is priceless - and that is what we are celebrating today.