This month I want to introduce you to one of our newest members, David Gillespie. David recently told me something that I think every parent longs to hear. He said, “My dad is my hero and my mom is the love of my life.” I asked him why his dad is his hero. He said, “My Dad’s name was Forest Gillespie. He worked hard all his life. He served in the military, and then he worked in the coal mines in Beckley, West Virginia. In his mid-forties he was called by the Lord to be an evangelist. He never had a church, but he preached nearly every week in Beckley, filling in for ministers or for churches that didn’t have a pastor.
“Later on in life Dad got sick. He’d been neglecting his own health because he invested all of his time in taking care of my mom. One day my dad went for a heart catheterization and the doctors found a cancerous mass in his stomach, which was the size of a softball. There was nothing that could be done. My brother, sister and I took turns sitting with my Dad. On one particular night my dad requested that I stay with him, even though it wasn’t my turn. So I stayed. Around 9:30 that evening he was in pain and a half hour later he started praying. He was praying for the lost, for widows that he knew, for sick people. I thought he might be getting ready to pass so I said, ‘Dad, Dad, I love you.’ And within a minute or two he was gone.”
David said, “Now there’s a hero. Anyone who is dying and is praying for others with their dying breath. That’s a hero in my eyes. My dad was the epitome of a good Christian.” David said he always had a hard time living up to his dad’s Christian witness. David once thought he had to follow in his dad’s footsteps, and those are big shoes to fill. But David’s father once told him, “David, the most important thing you can do in life is have Jesus in your heart and then do the best you can do. Just trust in Jesus.” David’s dad gave him some more advice that would serve him well. He said, “There’s going to be days when you’re up against it. When that happens just say, “Satan get behind me, cause the Lord’s in front of me to guide my path.”
It wouldn’t be long before David was “up against it” again. Just a few weeks after David’s father passed away, David’s mother’s health deteriorated. She was a diabetic and had been on kidney dialysis. After one treatment she decided she had enough and she told David she wasn’t going through any more treatments. David was the medical power of attorney for his mother and he explained that if she didn’t take the treatments she would die. David pleaded with his mother, but she insisted that she didn’t want any more treatments. David’s mother passed away within 6 weeks of David’s father passing away.
I asked David why his mother was the love of his life and he said, “My mom always showed me unconditional love.” David said there were several nights when he was a teenager and he’d stay out well past curfew and he wouldn’t call home. On one such occasion David’s dad met him at the door in the wee hours of the morning and simply said, “Follow me.” His dad led him to a room where David found his mother in tears, praying and worrying about her son. This showed David the depth of love that his mother had for him. David told his mom that night, “Mom I’ll never stay out late again without calling.” He followed through on that promise.
The Bible tells us to honor our parents and in Proverbs 1:8-9 it says,
“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”
David knows the truth of this scripture. He’s been blessed by having godly parents and I suspect his parents would say they too have been blessed by having David as a son. I wanted to share David’s story for two reasons. First, David’s story is a reminder that time is precious and to treasure every moment with our families. Second, David’s story challenges me to ask, “How can I be a better son and father?” Finally, we’re going to start a sermon series on the book of proverbs in May. If you have a proverb or a special saying from your parents that you’d like to share, please pass it along to me and I’m sure others will be blessed by your story, just as we’ve been blessed by David’s story. I asked David if he had a special saying or proverb that his mom or dad passed along to him. He said, “Yes, my mom told me over and over the three most important words you can hear, “I Love you.” Amen to that. May God bless David and Tammy Gillespie and may God bless Bethel Church. Amen.