Monday, July 21, 2008

The Last Mile of the Way

When Woodrow Wilson Kelly passed away this past week at the age of 96, my heart was saddened. He was my friend. He trusted me. He was good to my family. He was faithful to worship.

At the funeral one song chosen was "The Last Mile of the Way." As the song was played in A cappella format I couldn't help but think about Brother Kelly's last mile. I can still close my eyes and see him coming slowly up the aisle on his walker as all the members stood during the last verse of the invitation song. This past Sunday morning I thought I saw him again. I looked for him but he was not there. But the image of his willingness to follow Christ hasn't left my mind.

Only a small number of people have been blessed to witness the walk of a penitent sinner from a preacher's perspective. It is one of the most beautiful sights this side of eternity. There have been a few confessions made on the front pew during my lifetime that were so pure and perfect that I believe they rang the bells of heaven. Brother Kelly was one who wanted to do the will of God so much that he saw a need to approach the throne of grace with regularity.

As he aged, and his mental faculties began to waiver, I am sure many questioned his plea. But I don't care about that. When I see a tenth of the humility in the nay-sayers that W.W. Kelly displayed I will listen. He was a man who had lived his early life outside of Christ. His obedience in his mind was long overdue. I am confident that he would have obeyed even if it meant death. He was willing to give heart, soul, mind, strength, and every earthly possession to God.

The last mile of the way for brother Kelly was a mile of resolution and victory. He was not a perfect man, but his final example made him one of my heroes. Following Jesus is about heart. When hearts are open anything is possible. It is even possible for a man once taken in by the world and its pleasures to give up the temporal things at all costs. I imagine that by the end of his life Brother Kelly walked the aisle of repentance for a full mile...the last mile of the way.

"But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
Redeem me and be merciful to me. My foot stands in an even place;
In the congregations I will bless the LORD." ~ Psalm 26:11-12

1 comment:

  1. You are right, as preachers, we do have a different perspective on the walk. Good thoughts.