I stood there in a silent reverence..I stared into the picture that was before me as tears slowly rolled down my face. There were a few candles burning beside the urn which held the ashes of the man who had once been my dear friend.. I gently touched the man’s face in the picture before me and said a quiet farewell. As I turned around and made my way to the exit..in my mind, I scribbled the final words of a chapter in my life’s book..wiping my eyes, I marked it with a stamp of closure.
How I became dear friends with a hard living hells angel who was the same age as my father is a long and eventful story that I dont have the time to tell. The story of my friendship with chuck is also darkened with addiction and sin from my past.. none-the-less, it is a story that I am not ashamed of anymore..it is a story that I believe was written by the hand of the Almighty. I met chuck while I was in highschool. I gave his son a ride to and from school..even though I was first friends with his son, I quickly found myself going over there to hang out with chuck. Now dont get me wrong, our relationship was never anything outside of friendship..but we used to joke around about how we were soul mates separated by 30 years. We were both running from God; chuck just had a 30 year head start on me. Just as I knew, chuck also knew what was right.. there were many times when he and I, in the midst of our destructive behavior, would join hands and pray. Sometimes I wonder if the Lord heard our prayers..I know he did. Even from the lips of two wayward fools our words still made it to God’s ears. I am sure of this now because of how things came together in the end.
Praise the Lord for not giving up on me and for leading me onto a new path. The path that I found myself walking on sent me in a different direction from chuck.. the years before chuck’s death, I didnt see him all that much. I would run into him here and there..he even stopped by my house to say hello not too long ago. I just glanced over into my kitchen..death makes things so permanent here on Earth. Chuck walking into my kitchen is the last thing that I have of him here on Earth. He was about to ride his Harley to somewhere that was far away..I dont remember the place he was going to now..but I do remember him sitting at my kitchen table as I braided his hair. Sometimes I think that was the only reason that he stopped by that day..maybe he had no one else around that day to braid his hair and needed me just for that. Whatever the reason, I am glad I got to see him. Before he left, he gave me a hug and told me that he was proud of all I was doing. I told him that I loved him and that I was praying for him. His last words to me were, “briana, never stop loving me and never stop praying for me.” I would never hear another word leave chuck’s mouth. He would hear me again though.
The morning that I heard the news of chuck being in a coma and on life support, my heart sank. He lived a very hard life and the things that he did during those last days were just too much. His body was tired and it simply gave out. The first time I went to the hospital to see him I was the only one there. I took my bible and read to him. The sound of his life support machine was the only other sound besides my voice. It was a few days before easter so I read to him the crucifixion and the resurrection. I told him over and over that the blood Jesus shed on that cross was for him too. I am no prayer warrior, but that day I rebuked satan..that day I pled the blood of Jesus over his life. Sitting there holding his hand..all that I could think of was a time many years ago that he called me crying in the middle of the night asking me to come over and pray for him..if I ever heard chuck’s heart it was on that night. Sitting in that quiet hospital room, I remembered the things chuck had said to me the night that I went to pray with him. He was scared that night.. “Jesus please remember me,” was what he had kept saying that night. As I was sitting by his hospital bed that day..I spoke those words for him.
The next time I went to see chuck in the hospital..the room was packed. Standing around him were many leather clad, “zz top bearded” bikers and a few family members. The doctors had taken him off of life support and every breath he took was painfully labored. In that small room, the spirit of bondage was heavy. I found myself unable to pray for chuck..I called my dad. When my dad walked into that room I could honestly feel the darkness part.. im not saying that my father is God or anything..no preacher is God..but the light of Jesus was definitely radiating from him that day. My father anointed chuck’s head with oil and prayed for the Lord to grant mercy to this dying man. We left shortly after.
That night I received the call..Chuck had passed. Sometimes you just have to leave things up to the Lord..but still I grieved for my friend’s soul. I remember sitting in the living room when I received the call and the tears that followed. That was the first time that Trinitee had ever really seen me cry. “What’s wrong mommy,” she said as she gave me a hug. How do you explain to a four-year old the ramifications of sin? I told her that my friend had died and that he may not have gotten to know Jesus before it happened. She looked up at me and said something that i’ll never forget..”Jesus knew him though, mommy.” I gently kissed her forehead and went outside to sit alone on my front porch. Shortly there after I got a call from one of his family members that made me realize just how right Trinitee had been.
That evening after my father and I left the hospital Chuck came to. After being in a coma for days..after being taken off of life support..chuck woke up. It was only for a short time, but he was able to speak. He told the people around him that he had heard everything.. that he had heard me.. he had heard my father praying over him. Chuck woke up long enough to say his goodbyes and to get right with the Lord..he passed away shortly after.
When I think about Chuck..my heart rejoices. He lived a hard life..he did things that “good” men do not do..he ran from God the majority of his life..but oh the blood of Jesus! Jesus did know him..just like trinitee had reminded me. Jesus doesnt just forget about us when we sin..even though we may allow our sin to separate us from Jesus, the Lord doesnt let our sin separate us from his love. His love is always there waiting for us to embrace it. My dear friend’s life could have been snuffed out in a second with a needle in his arm..but praise you my merciful Jesus..you didnt let that happen. Chuck’s prayers from that night years ago were answered.. just like the thief on the cross who cried out to God in the last moments of his life..Jesus remembered Chuck.
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” – Luke 23: 42-43
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. – Psalms 103:4
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. – Psalms 139: 7-8