A Godly Man

Pop died in 1985. At 93, he just wore out. I wish you could have known him. Life wasn’t always fun, but he had fun. In Proverbs 10, we read: “The godly are showered with blessings … we all have happy memories of the godly … the hopes of the godly result in happiness.”

He was godly. He lived through a great deal of pain. His 18 year-old daughter was killed in an automobile accident. His 24 year-old son died from a cerebral hemorrhage. His eldest served in the European Theater where he was wounded in action. His wife wasted away as dementia robbed him of his companion of so many years.

He made a choice along the way. He didn’t allow the circumstances of life determine the condition of his heart. There was a sparkle in his eye and a bounce in his step. His faith was deep and strong. He was a life-long member of one church, sticking with it through thick and thin. He served as a deacon. He sang in the choir. He had an amazing bass voice that could make window panes wiggle. I can’t remember too many Sundays when he wasn’t in church, at home or on the road.

Proverbs 10 also speaks of people with character: “People with integrity have firm footing … the words of the godly are like sterling silver, the godly will never be disturbed, the godly give wise advice, the godly speak words that are helpful.”

Even after he retired, he kept his office downtown in Anniston, Alabama. We would pile into his giant Mercury sedan and ride with him. He said he had business there and he needed to pick up his mail but we soon learned there was something else to his trips to the office.

In the lobby of the building, there was a newspaper stand. It was manned by a old blind man, an African American gentleman who could recognize regulars by their footsteps. If he didn’t know who you were, he would call out to you so he could shake your hand and ask you how your day was going. Pop always stopped to chat, always bought something. These two old guys were friends and had been for years.

Then Pop would head for the elevator. In those days, most elevators were manned by an operator. Inside Pop would find another friend whose skin was also a different color than his. They would tell each other jokes. Pop had huge hands but the elevator guy could match his grip. When Pop told us to shake, our hands would be swallowed by his massive clasp.

I came to realize that Pop was color blind. He was a product of his times but somehow he stepped across lines that in that day were very clear. I remember the signs at water coolers and restrooms. I also learned later that he had served on the school board for many years and had taken risks working for equality in the schools of the area.

Yes, Pop was a lot of fun but he was so much more. At his funeral, the crowd was not made up of just white faces. The godly are indeed showered by blessings.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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