Before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t a sad story, but rather, a most joyous one. As I write this, I want to first tell you about my uncle Elias and his life, and then how God brought him to Himself and saved him. I don’t want to make this all about Elias, so I will post scripture references where they are applicable.
My uncle was born in 1932, and had to work very hard all of his life, even from a very young age. Times were tough when he was growing up, and it was a rather poor community that he grew up in. They did not realize they were truly poor, because everyone had about the same amount of worldly goods. They had to get up very early in the morning, usually about 4 AM, and by the time it was daylight, the animals(hogs, milkcow, horses, chickens, dogs, etc), had been fed and watered, cows had been milked, eggs gathered, breakfast had been cooked and eaten, and they were in the field tending to their garden. They worked from what they said, “can see to can’t see”, or from sun-up to sun-down. This started in the first part of Febuary when they started “grubbing” the field to plant the peas. They always planted peas on valentine’s day, and my uncle still does this to this very day. This went on all through the spring, summer, and beginning of fall, when they started harvesting their crops. Sometimes they would go to the woods to hunt for meat such as squirrells, o’possums(yes o’possums), deer, rabbit, pheasants, and they would occasionally fish as well. They were pretty much a self-sufficient family, by God’s help of course. This instilled a work ethic in Elias that goes on to this day. You ought to see the hillside he has to weedeat every summer, and he is going on 82. But, he wouldn’t have it any other way. He loves to work, hunt, fish, herb, etc. Sitting in the house doing nothing, is not for him. He always had a good morale character about him in that he would not steal, cheat, swindle anyone out of anything he owed them. He would like to tell “stories” and expound on the ones he heard. But he would never tell you a lie about something serious. Now, if he was telling you a story, you took it with a shaker of salt. But I loved him anyways and always prayed that if it would be His will, to save my precious uncle Elias.
Back a few months ago, he walked to the mailbox and almost never made it back to the porch. He had a heart attack, and they had to place a stint in one of his arteries. This is coming from a man who was always active, even at the age of 81, who was not a big eater(he was approx 5’8″ 150ish), and seemed to always take care of himself. But God has a way of getting the attention of His lost sheep. I did not learn of his attack until just the other day. His wife, my aunt Ruby, has been in church since I was a young boy, and Elias would never go to church with her. He would take her and drop her off, and come back and get her. He seemed to always want to hunt, fish, campout, on sundays. Church just was not something that peaked his interest in the least. If someone in the family died, he and Ruby would go to the church or funeral home where they were at, and he would stay outside and talk to the family. Rarely would he go in, and if he did, he did so before the service would begin. There was one time I can remember when my aunt Edith died(his sister), he did stay in and listen to the preacher, but that is the only time I can think of. He did not even stay inside to listen to the preaching over his mom and dad, my mamaw and papaw, if I am remembering correctly. He was in the state that 1 Corinthians 2:14 states, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”. Someone higher than Elias would have to work a will and a do in his life to change this state he was in(Philippians 2:13).
A few months back, Ruby started taking a bad turn, healthwise, and had about three or four meetings at their house. These men were preaching men; one I had heard personally, and the others were from what many others had said about them. One night, their son Gary was converted at their house meeting. When I had spoken with Elias the other day, I could tell a difference in him. It really seemed that the grace of God was effectually working within him. I knew that if He was working within him, He would complete that work. As it states in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”, so I had no worries if He was truly working through Elias. Dad had told me earlier that day that Elias had went to church the night before! This coming from a man who would not darken the door of a church for close to 75 years except for a wake or funeral! Do not tell me that God can not change a man’s will and do it so to make them willing to come to Him in faith believeing!! As it states in Jeremiah 31:18 “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be”. When God turns a man, he’s turned! No ands, ifs, or buts about it; they are turned!! The day I stopped and visited with Elias and Ruby was on a wednesday, that tuesday night he had went to church. Then on thursday night, my wife called me at work to tell me she saw on facebook where they had posted that Elias had been saved!! Hallelujah!! A man that I had prayed for for almost seven years(I was saved May 24, 2007), had come to taste of the Lord and found Him sweet to the taste.
Now to show you how willing people are to fulfill what God has commanded us to do. The next evening, January 17, 2014, he wanted to be baptized. Well, I was not about to miss this for the world. He wanted to be baptized in the creek, and the air temp was 30-35 degrees F!! As I was talking to several of my family members, I saw Elias, and I saw a different man. Elias was always stoic, and never showed a whole lot of emotions. He was always the “man’s man”, and did not want to see anyone seeing him crying. Many times I told him I loved him, and the closest he came was he would say, “I you too”. But, he did not have to say it. I knew it. He showed me he loved me many many times, and that was good enough for me. When I hugged and kissed him, I told him I loved him, and he said it; “I love you, too”!! What a change God makes in His children, people!!! When he was talking to others, his voice was cracking, trying to hold it back, but the change made was evident. Then the time came to bury the old man. Two of his sons, and a United Baptist Elder walked him into the creek and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, they buried the old man in the creek, and the current carried him away. When he came out of the water, he could not hold it any longer. The old man was gone, washed away in the current. He bagan bawling and he could not have stopped if he tried; and I do not think he tried to stop. The pride of the old man was gone, and the new man was evident for all to see. A fellow who married Elias’ first cousin took and wrapped him with a blanket and hugged him, and Elias rested his head on his shoulder and was bawling like a baby. As I stated, the prideful man that he once was, was no longer. God had taken him away, and brought forth a new man. As it states in Ephesians 4, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”(22-24).
Yes, the death of an uncle made a joyous day in our family. Praise be to God, who saves all who will come to Him!!
I will close with these few passages of scriptures:
Col. 3: “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him”(8-17).
Romans 6:” What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”(1-11).