I can still hear his laugh. Jim Murphy. A man I can’t say I knew all too well. But he was a man I adored. The first time I met him was at my friend Emily’s graduation party. He smiled with good humor. The kind of smile that is too genuine to not be contagious. I loved his smile. From the first day I met him I called him Papaw. That’s what his grand kids called him. That’s how he was introduced to me. It was kind of a joke, but he didn’t even mind. And he always just laughed when I said it. The kind of laugh that told me he approved. The kind of laugh that made me glad he did. He wasn’t really my Papaw. But I’d be OK if he was. After all, he really was a man I adored.
And so, walking into the chapel two weeks ago, to honor the life of this man, well, it was hard. It was sad. And looking up to the front of the line and seeing Jim’s family, well, that was hard too. Because there they were. People I loved, people I adored. People who for all practical reasons outside of blood were my family. And they were hurting. And there was nothing I could do but hurt with them.
As I sat in that chapel, my eyes kept drifting back to Jim’s family, sitting there in that front pew. They listened so intently to every word, every song, every moment. And as I sat there I couldn’t help but admire the inheritance Jim had left them. His son is so much like him. A quiet servant who does what needs to be done and does it for the sake of others. A man with a heart just as big as his dads, who knows how to give his children the love they need, who also recognizes others and loves them like his own. He’s been a spiritual father to many, including one not so quiet and often rambling red head. He is a man rich in the inheritance of his father. I sit and think about it and I know its what we were made for. Children born to resemble their father. We were born to resemble our Father. The One who loves us more than we will ever understand. The One who through blood and sacrifice offers us the chance to walk in His image, to take on DNA of the spiritual kind.
I don’t know if Darryl’s dad left him a great monetary inheritance. But I do know that even if he did, it doesn’t matter. Money was never the important thing. Money was never what could have mattered. It doesn’t always seem like that. Especially when you are in need. But it doesn’t. And Jim saw that. So he invested otherwise in Darryl. He spent time with him. He loved him, and taught him how to do the same. He gave him the intangible because he saw the greater good of it.
Sometimes if I’m honest, I just want God to leave me a monetary inheritance. I want the money and everything that it can buy me: the status, the security, the fun. I like money. I like buying things. I like knowing that all my bills are paid for, everything I need is attainable, and I don’t have to be in want or need. I like knowing I’m safe. But this week all I can think about is how Jim left Darryl an inheritance worth far more. An inheritance that will take Darryl much farther in life. An inheritance that I’m sure Darryl would rather have. Because he may no longer have his father with him, but Jim’s character still beats strong and lively in Darryl’s heart. I think of the pride Jim must have, looking down from heaven and seeing that Darryl never took what he was taught for granted. I think about how much Darryl swells with pride when people say, “You remind me of your father.” I think of how much Jim swells with pride too. Because is there anything more beautiful than a son resembling his father, the one who gave him life and then taught him how to maneuver in it? Is there anything more precious?
And how easy it can be for a father to give his children money. Its easy. It requires hardly any relationship. Its only a transaction, after all. But much more is required to give someone your character, your talents, your person. That is an investment.
And yet, my Father, my Creator God, Abba, who longs for me, has already invested in me. And He is ready to invest in me all the more. All so I can have the opportunity to resemble Him. And I think, what better result could I get from all of this than to have others say, “You remind me of your Father.” I can think of no greater compliment. I can think of no greater inheritance. Oh that I could follow Him into deeper waters. That I could let go of this world, this desire for an inheritance full of glamour.
This is what I want. I want a relationship like Jim and Darryl. I want people to see me and say those six words. I want to remind them of my Father. My Love. My Jesus. I want them to see the wounds He bore for me. For them. The wounds that paid a price and a reminder of just how serious He was about us. I want them to see His big heart that goes so deep that one could fall in and drown in that kind of love. I want them to see a smile that is too genuine not to be contagious. A smile that barrels deep into a laugh that fills the whole room with joy. Real joy. Pure, unadulterated, happy joy. I want to look like my Father. In my face. In my action. In my heart. In my words. Do this in remembrance of me. It keeps coming back, doesn’t it? Do this. Do what? I’m not quite sure. Do life? Yes, do life. Do love. Do service. Do everything in remembrance of Him. Do this in remembrance of me. Let me do this in honor of Him. As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Oh let me walk into the deepest places of Him.
I never thought Jim could teach me such a valuable lesson. I never thought one man’s legacy could be so profound in my life. I never thought to look at the ripples that He had created. But it all happened, even without my thinking. And now, I look to Darryl. And because I saw all that his dad started, I’m excited to see how Darryl will continue it. The legacy isn’t over. If anything it has just begun. An intangible inheritance that only continues to ripple farther and farther into the pool.
There are two other men to this story: Jake and Alex. Those are Darryl’s sons. I’m hoping to run into them soon. I just want them to know, they remind me of their father.