On Sunday, we worshipped with Ezekiel’s audacious vision of dry bones being given new life. It was a noisy vision of bone-rattling, wind-blowing, grave-opening, life-restoring proportions. Every word of it was wrapped in hope made real by the promise of God’s indwelling spirit. On Monday, Ezekiel’s vision of bones coming to life ran into the reality of bones too worn out to go on living. Our friend and brother, George Flynn, drew his last breath and went to be with the Lord.
George told me things about Ball Camp Baptist Church that no one else told me. Granted there were times when I could not understand what George was saying. If I asked him to repeat what he was saying, I could usually make out what he was trying to say. The stories he could tell, oh my!
His laugh, like everything else about George, was unlike any other. Still, joy could be heard clearly when he threw back his head, slapped his knee, and filled the air with the sound of delight. He loved to laugh, and I loved to hear him laugh. To know George and the challenges that he faced in life, one might wonder if he ever had any reason to laugh, to celebrate or to rejoice, but he did; and when he did, he brought joy to those with whom he shared his laughter.
I am not sure what other people saw when they looked at George. If someone who had never met George just looked at him and did not take the time to get to know him, that person would have no doubt underestimated George. There was more to George than met the eye.
If you are a member of Ball Camp Baptist Church, the next time you take a casserole out of the oven there is a pretty good chance that the hot pad you use to do so will have been made by George. He was prolific with a crochet hook and yarn. Nor did he stop with hot pads. He crocheted hats, and he claimed to have crocheted a pair of pants, though I never actually saw the pants. Kitchens are special places. I am glad that there are reminders of George in so many of ours.
We would do well to remember George and what he taught us with the way he lived his life. With his crocheting, George found a way to do something with what he had. There were many things that George could not do, but he did not let that keep him from doing what he could do. In doing what he could do, he shared himself with all of us.
George also had an ability to see value in things that others did not see. On mission trips with folks from church, his job was to pick up nails. He knew that with a little straightening, they could be reused. He also gathered scraps of boards that he would later turn into kindling. George saw something good and potentially useful in almost everything that he came across. How much richer would our lives be if we looked at one another in the same way.
One month ago, George went on what would be his last mission trip. Looking back, I can see that he was different. He did not spend much time looking for nails to straighten or gathering scraps from the saw table. Mostly he just found a place to sit and watch what was being done. He was among friends and in the company of people who thought a lot of him. I think he knew that. I hope that he did.
While I am not sure what others saw when they saw George, I am sure what God saw and sees. God sees a man created in God’s own image. God sees a man for whom Christ died. And now George sees up close what we still see from a distance. In God’s face, George sees the loving delight with which God has always looked upon him. No longer through a glass darkly, now George is face to face with the One who has always cherished him.