A Moment in Time – June 11th, 2019
June 11, 2019
“When a Man Dies Alone”
Monday, October 10, 2005 was an interesting day. I was a high school English teacher in Bermuda at the time, but on this day I was actually in Huntsville, AL as a senior class chaperone for students who were visiting Oakwood University.
I had been on my own spiritual journey during this season of my life. I was intently seeking clarity and direction from the Lord. This intentionality was influenced by a few variables, including the reality that as a teacher in a Christian academy, I felt uncomfortable trying to tell students about a God I scarcely knew myself.
I found myself in a Huntsville Christian Bookstore buying my own Bible for the first time in my life. It’s one thing to be given a Bible. I had been given a few in the past. But it’s another thing to buy your own. I was a man seeking God and buying a Bible was indicative of a desire to go deeper in my relationship with Christ. I picked up the New Spirit Filled Life Bible feeling accomplished and studious, like a graduate student prepping for the class of life. Strolling through the aisle, I received an unexpected call from my cousin Treniss, who startled me with the following news: “Hi Ty, your dad just passed away.” She was referring to my biological father, Ronald.
What I didn’t know was that while I was buying my first Bible, my father was taking his last breaths. I had only seen him twice in my life and I wrestled with how and why he would choose to die and not reach out to me. Why would he choose to die alone in a hospital in Atlanta; I learned that he had leukemia… surely death didn’t sneak up on him? Why choose to die alone and not tell me? I was only 4 hours away and he didn’t know it. So close, but yet so far. Sound familiar?
I remember returning to my accommodations and kneeling over my new Bible; in it, a devotional entitled “Faiths Warfare” stood out to me. I used it as the inscription in the beginning of my Bible:
“This Bible belongs to: Ty-Ron Michael O’Shea Douglas
Given by: The Holy Spirit
Date: Monday, October 10, 2005
Occasion: Faith’s Warfare: Manhood and Mission”
It was one of those moments when God had me all to Himself. I tried to make a few calls, including calling my dad—Stanley—but I could not reach those I sought to call. In that moment, I heard these words in my spirit: “I’m Your Father.” It was a “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” moment, when the affirmation of the Divine pierced my heart to communicate that God was with me and there was a mission to be accomplished.
I would attend my father’s funeral in his hometown, and it was the weirdest thing to learn about a person who was so close to me genetically but everyone else knew him better than me.
“How do you mourn a father you didn’t know /
When the circumstances of life inhibit the relationship to grow…”
…I wrote in a poem shared at his funeral.
I remember standing over his casket comparing my hands to his to see what I had in common with him. I couldn’t see his legs to inquire if he had the high Mandingo calves like mine, so comparing our hands was the best I could do. So many questions that would go unanswered. Did he wear long pants in the summer to hide his legs too?
I remember thinking, what goes through the mind of a dying father? I’m pretty sure he thought about me and my brother. I’d like to think that he prayed for us. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I was in a Christian Bookstore in Huntsville, Alabama buying a Bible as he passed away. You see, my father was supposed to be a pastor and I was actually conceived in Huntsville, Alabama. His life decisions and challenges with drugs prevented him from fully living out his calling, but I don’t think that inhibited him from calling out to His Heavenly Father for Himself and his sons.
No matter what decisions and mistakes you’ve made, there is nothing that hinders you from calling out to your Heavenly Father for yourself and your family. ‘Daddy’ still wants to hear from you.
I’m not exactly sure what went through the mind of my dying Father, but I know what went through the mind of my dying Savior: He thought of each of us. He saw our rejection and rebellion manifested in the curse words and jeers of “crucify Him, crucify Him!” Yet He still said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I’m grateful for that grace. And when we get to compare our hands to His, He won’t be in a casket…He’s alive! As our brother, we will notice some similarities in our hands; yet, as our Savior there will be a key difference: He will have nail prints in His!
As a son who has lost a Father, I’m grateful for the Son of God who died for us, rose with all Power, intercedes for us, and is coming back soon to take us home! Jesus’ death on a lonely cross means victory for each of us who choose Him.
This is Dr. Ty Douglas, author of Border Crossing Brothas, and I want to invite you to experience SALT—So Amazing Life Today; it’s available to each of us, in Christ.
You can reach Dr. Ty at www.DrTyDouglas.org and follow him at @DrTyDouglas.
Link to purchase Border Crossing Brothas: https://www.amazon.com/Border-Crossing-«Brothas»-Navigating-Critical/dp/1433135388