My wife Karen was recently sent some pictures of her father when he was in high school. His name is Gray Younce. Unfortunately, Karen doesn’t have many pictures of him from his younger years, so these photos were a delightful surprise. Karen said, “Having these pictures to look at was a wonderful experience for me. I don’t have many pictures of my father as a young man because when he was small their house burned and they lost everything, including all family pictures. It is hard for me to imagine my father as a young man. He always seemed capable and experienced, knowing how to do everything.
My father was a man who valued God, family and friendships. I always remember him helping our neighbors by giving them vegetables or just helping in whatever way they needed. I remember one time a neighbor’s lawn mower broke and they asked if they could borrow daddy’s lawnmower. Rather than lend them the mower, he cut their grass. My father was a deacon at Graceland Baptist Church.
He even helped rebuild the church after it burned down. My father was someone you could count on to help in any situation. He was fun loving, warm with an infectious laugh. He made everyone around him smile. My father truly was one of a kind! He is missed as much today as the day he died 25 years ago.” I echo Karen’s words. He is greatly missed and those pictures were a reminder to me of a life well lived.
As I looked at his youthful face in those high school pictures, I wondered what he might have been thinking at the time? He was young, handsome, and in great shape; the world, as the saying goes, was his oyster. When those pictures
were snapped in the early 1940s I doubt he was thinking that one day, decades into the future, that picture would bring joy to his future family, but that’s exactly what happened. We looked at those images and remembered the man that he was and the joy he brought to his family.
As we approach Father’s day, Gray Younce remains an inspiration to me of a Godly father. He was a hard working dairy farmer for many years. I suspect it’s nigh impossible to be a farmer and not believe in the Lord. Gray’s faith truly informed his life. He was selfless and cared deeply about others. Beyond being a helpful neighbor and faithful church member, he was a wonderful father to his children and an incredible father-in-law to me. When he passed away so many people told us how much Gray meant to them. I could see the impact of his life on his family, his church family and our community. His death caused me to evaluate my life and it ultimately led me to a closer walk with the Lord. Gray died in May 1998 and I was called into the ministry in May 1999. I believe one event led to the other, proving once again, all things work for the good of those who love the Lord. God brought something good from something
Those high school photos of Gray certainly took us down memory lane, but they also caused me to think about the future. Suppose years from now a family member receives a photo of you or me. As they look at your photo, what will they think? What would you like them to think? If we are faithful in seeking the Lord, listening to His voice and following His call on our lives I suspect that our photos will be a blessing to our families. I hope that when people look at our photos, they will be a memorial to a life lived to God. Gray Younce’s photos are most certainly a memorial to a life that glorified our Lord. May God bless us as we seek to follow our Heavenly Father and may God bless Bethel Baptist Church. Amen