He moved here to Milledgeville only a few years ago, but he made a remarkable impact on our community. Not only did he take time to speak to various groups about things that were going on in the world and possible military response, but every week he took time to read to kindergartners and first-graders.
I was privileged to be a pastor to Tug even though he was a devoted and devout member of St. Stephen’s Church. His wife, Judy was a member of First United Methodist Church, and Tug would come to Wednesday night dinners and programs, so he called himself an “eating Methodist!”
We were good friends, and I enjoyed him and enjoyed spending time with him. We played golf a couple of times and he was a member of our Kiwanis club, serving as its president two years ago.
Only a couple of months ago he started to feel bad, and he quickly got worse. I wanted to go by and see him even though Judy indicated he was not receiving many people. But she said Tug would like to see me. I recently had knee replacement, so getting around has been difficult, and I thought, “I’ll try to see him next week.” Next week was too late, and I missed that opportunity to tell my friend how much he has meant to me.
We have a tendency to think we have all the time in the world, that we can wait to do things that are really important — we have plenty of time. The truth is that we may not have nearly the time we think we have. We have no idea which circumstances around us may change, what may happen that will prevent us from experiencing a wonderful opportunity.
Several years ago I was pastoring a church in Atlanta, and a member who lived just around the corner from me asked me to stop by sometime; she had something she wanted to talk about that would only take a few minutes. She had been diagnosed with cancer, but she had been doing fine. I was going to go by the next day, but she suddenly died that night. I never had that brief conversation that seemed important to her.
Some of us live with broken relationships that could probably be mended with a conversation. Some of us have been meaning to tell a friend how much they mean to us. Some of us have meant to take a trip somewhere, and we think, “One of these days I am going to do that.” But time slips away, and too often what we meant to do goes unfinished.
Jesus said that if we come to make a gift at the altar and remember our brother/sister/friend has something against us, we should leave our gift there and go be reconciled right then. You would think he would have said, “After the service is over ...,” but he didn’t. “You may not have another chance,” he could have said.
More than likely if you are younger than 50 years old this column may not mean so much to you. I am over 60 now, and I would say to you, “Take it from an old guy who has been around the block a few times; I know what I am talking about. Do today what is important — it’s important!
Dr. Jay Hodges can be reached at Jayhodges610@ yahoo.com.