His question caught me off guard. We were waiting a few minutes before I performed the wedding ceremony for him and his lovely bride. He had recently joined the church after attending for several months. He knew I spelled my last name with a “ph” instead of a “v” and that I grew up in Hobart.
“Was Rex your brother?”
“Yes he was. How did you know Rex?”
“We were in rehab together at Guymon. He was a great guy.”
“He’s dead. He died over nine years ago.”
I don’t know why I thought I needed to explain.
“I know. That was too bad. He was such a great guy. He always kept everyone laughing. He was so funny. I really enjoyed getting to know him.”
Before we exited for the ceremony, I had a moment of sadness. I was sad about what could have been that never was. In the end, Rex fell victim to the drugs that we had prayed he would be set free from. He never knew the joy of having his chains of addiction permanently removed. He went out fighting, but he still went out. It saddened me that my younger brother never really became my good friend, as I have seen so many brothers become.
I spent many years mad instead of sad. It angered me that Rex hurt our parents with such consistency and apparent apathy. Even when he wasn’t present, he seemed to overshadow everything. Over the years, my anger mellowed, as I became more and more aware that, were it not for the grace of God, I could have been just like Rex. He never set out to hurt anyone. He was a great guy when he was clean. The only way any of us experience victory over temptation is by God’s grace. In my study I displayed a small picture of me holding Rex when he was a baby. I was smiling.
These days I spend a lot more time getting the log out of my own eye rather than looking for specs to remove from the eyes of others. God’s Word remains authoritative for what to believe and how to live. God judges. I don’t. I pray and preach and weep as I seek to offer hope in the midst of darkness to those who have been blinded and chained by Satan. Jesus will save and transform anyone who allows Him to do so. Many remain unwilling.
I love you,