I believe in the Resurrection because every now and then I hear the most amazing stories of how people have come back from the dead.   And that’s the story of Johnny told to me by his soul mate of 37 years.  It seems that there were two Johnny’s.   Johnny #1 was the guy for the first 18 years of their life together.  His wife Cynthia explained, “we had our ups and downs, but mostly downs.”  These were years of “his drinking and drugging and jail.”  

Finally, Cindy told him, “buddy boy, it’s time to straighten up and for us to get married or its over.”  The night they were to meet with the priest to begin marriage preparation, Johnny was a “no-show.”  Cindy said, “I was embarrassed and frustrated, and said that’s it.”  She made Johnny move out the next day.

And that began a six-year break.  But, “Johnny kept on being Johnny.”   As Cindy said, “the problem was he wasn’t a very good dope dealer.”  In his last run-in with the law, the judge who had seen him all too often was determined to teach him a serious jail time lesson.  Johnny pleaded for rehab.  But the judge told him to serve his time, and then he’d think about rehab.  That’s pretty close to a living death.

In prison, Johnny asked himself why he kept ending up in jail and realized that it was to make money.  But he reminded himself that he had a trade – he was brick mason.  He vowed to make it different.  After jail, the judge was true to his word and sent him to a local treatment and recovery program.  

He began “working the steps.”  Step Nine called for him to make amends to anyone he hurt.  The list was long and Cindy was at the top.  She said he sent her a letter owning up to it all, and “it really touched me.”  And then he started coming around the restaurant where she worked.  He wanted to get back together but this time she insisted, “if we get together this is the deal: we’re going to date for a year, then be engaged, and then get married – no living together.  And I want a ring!  And Johnny lived up to the deal.

What followed was an incredible turnaround and 19 years of marriage.  He got a regular 9 to 5 job as a bricklayer and did so much masonary side work that he ended up staring his own company – TCB Masonry – “taking care of business.”  And that’s what he did.

Cindy said the second go around was wonderful.  “He was the greatest man I’ve ever known; he was my hero.”  He turned his life around (we call this “repentance”) and all because of a woman who loved him intensely – like Christ loves us – and demanded more of him.  Not so much tough love as real love.

He made the kind of friends in recovery that are unlike friendships anywhere else.  And he pursued his passion for cars.  He and Cindy traveled the country to “hot rod” auto shows.  

Very recently they discovered that Johnny had cancer, and a rapid strain.  They both knew he was dying and together the made the decision to stop chemo.  Cindy helped him to have time with friends, to say his goodbyes and whatever else needed to be said.

His funeral was filled with lots of their friends and amazing biker-types.  And there was a caravan of 25 hot-rod cars that lead the way to the cemetery.  He was loved.

This is real Christianity and Cindy was Johnny’s Christ.  She was with him every step of the way even when she had to push him out.  And the hand of God was there in the dying and in rising.

Yes, I believe in the Resurrection – I believe that the dead will rise anew.  I hear these amazing stories of incredible people living real lives, suffering and dying, and choosing to rise again.  I see the work of Christ in the Cindys who don’t give up on people – even when they give up on themselves.
 


Comments

Anthony
03/24/2012 8:18am

The funeral was Jonny's final ride. Thanks for all you did for those who loved him.

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