Chuck 4

I think about it often. You know, dying.

Is that weird? I don’t think so. I’m certainly not paranoid. I’m not scared of everything or obsessed with safety. As a matter of fact, I love taking risks. I do things I shouldn’t do all the time that could cost me. You know the dumbass things your wife or mom would yell at you for? Like climbing 25 feet onto a tree to cut branches off with no support or harness. But anyway, where was I going with that? Oh yea. Death.

I just have this feeling that my time is coming soon.

At least that’s what I chalk it up to. I do believe that getting older most definitely plays its part in this. I never really thought about dying as a kid. I just lived. I did dumb things and didn’t worry about what would happen. Ah youth. The perils of youth. Having a family of my own definitely causes me to think about death as well. The thought of leaving my wife and son is unbearable. I can hardly type this. For sure it could be a reality. We aren’t guaranteed anything. Lord willing death won’t come knocking on my door for a long time. But thinking about it makes me all mushy and reflective.

It forces me to assess my life.

I start asking myself questions. Like, am I treating people how they should be treated? If I die today, will I be okay with the last words I told my wife or will I regret them and give anything to have one more chance to tell her how much I love her? Am I focusing on the things I need to? Or am I chasing material, superficial and momentary treasures? I wish I could be a more appreciative and content person. The worst sinner ever, Paul, said there’s great gain in godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).

Let me ask you something. Are you content?

I would “say” that I am. But my life says I’m not. My thoughts, you know, the craziness that goes on inside my head, don’t feel like contentment. But wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense. How in the world could I not be content. Let’s hash this out.

I have an amazing family that still loves me: check.

I have a beautiful wife who puts up with me: check.

I am living out my dream: check.

I have a beautiful baby boy and awesome puppy: check.

I have money and food to eat and water to drink and a roof over my head: check.

That’s stuff that not many people have. That’s stuff that lots of people dream of. How could I not be content? I often wonder how people with absolutely nothing find contentment. But, I think the more appropriate question is, where does our hope lie? Do my hopes hang on what I can see and feel and hear? Are they entrusted to earthly things?

One of the most content guys I’ve ever known was a man named Chuck.

We called him Chuck, but his real name was Charlie Gray. We became good friends during my time in Colorado. He called the local bridge his home. As did his buds Cajun, Buck, Shaggy, Buffalo and Tex, just to name a few. But something stood out about Chuck. In fact, it was evident from the first time we met. He always Chuck, Dice Under Bridgehad something to be grateful for. He’d be whining about how the police kicked him out from under the bridge one minute, and thanking the Lord he knew of another place to go the next. Seriously! I can still hear him now,”The Lord always provides.” He’d find a penny and say, “You see Wells, the Lord has always provided for me.” He baffled me. We got so close I began letting him stay at my apartment whenever he wanted. We would order pizzas or grill some burgers. Chuck would get some soda (seriously soda!) and we’d spend the night watching a movie or talking. Boy could Chuck talk. I tell you what.

We started as just friends, but we became brothers.

He came to all my games. Didn’t know a lick about soccer. He was a baseball guy. Was from Detroit and could tell you everything there ever was to know about the Tigers. But he came to all the games. He wore his Colorado Rapids shirt I got him. He ate it up. He became a regular. Knew all the guys. And they knew him too. Knew all the security guards. Everybody loved Chuck. You better believe he got an invitation to our wedding. I would have given anything to have boogied down on the dance floor with my bride and Chuck. (That’s totally normal!) Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the trip cross country. But, let me tell you, everybody loved Chuck!

I haven’t seen Chuck in a couple of years.

But we’ve always stayed in touch through text and frequent conversations where Chuck would continue to rant about how the Lord kept providing for him. He had cancer years ago that went into remission. But about a year ago he got the news that his cancer was back. In a bad way. But still, Chuck wouldn’t complain. He said he had all he ever needed. Jesus. No joke. He was the epitome of the Gospel. Sure he done some things in his past he ain’t proud of, but he knew Jesus loved him. Chuck thought about death often. How could he not? He was surrounded by it. He lived in a certain type of hell nobody should ever have to live in. One full of needles and alcohol and hopelessness and evil. Chuck would tell me he stayed on the streets because God was using him as a missionary. Chuck was right. God was using Chuck. In so many lives. And certainly in mine.

Chuck was given less than a year to live.

I honestly tried getting him to come to North Carolina to spend his remaining days on this earth with my family and I. Because, he was family. He had to meet Declan. To see him hold Declan would have been so special. I told him he could live with us. I would have cherished that. But he decided to stay under that same bridge with some of his same brothers. I so wanted to go visit him before he left this earth but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. I don’t know where Chuck is, but because I haven’t heard from him in months, I believe he’s gone home…to Heaven. He’s pain free, guilt free, shame free and stink free. I bet he smells like a bed of roses. I bet a lot has changed for Chuck since he entered the pearly gates and joined His glorious Savior, but I bet there’s one thing that hasn’t changed…Chuck’s still finding contentment in Jesus’ provision.

I love you Chuck.

You taught me so much, especially about contentment. You were always right: The Lord always provides. Thank you Jesus! See you soon Chuck. Until then, throw the ball for River, tell my G’momie and Pops I miss them and play some soccer with sweet Nathan.

By Wells Thompson