Once, there were two families which were joyous in the Lord, my own and the family of the Pipkins. Our families became as closely-knitted as if to be one of the same. We shared fellowship, friendship, love and admirations for one another, completely.
The Pipkin family was made up of Bill & Claudia, (dad and mom) Louise (daughter) and Sammy….a most beloved son, whom the family revolved around. S…ammy was my very best and closest friend; he was a remarkable boy. Sammy was a vibrant, God-loving, energetic youth, that had a smile liken to that of an angel. Our families spent so much time together. If Sammy was somewhere, I was less than a stones-throw away and vice versa. We were absolutely inseparable. The Davis’, comprised of my mother Cheryl, brother Steve, sister Diane, and my Grandmother, Carolyn Clark were all God-loving, spiritual people and were completely intertwined with the Pipkin’s.
On one mid summer afternoon, their entire family had come to visit and pick me up to spend another countless weekend with them. It was a full house, with all their family, me, my mother, sister, grandmother and my sister’s friend. Everyone was doing their own thing. As Sammy and I waited and played in my bedroom, we passed the time as boys do. Talking and dreaming and cutting up, sharing everything we could think of and get our hands on. We loved to shoot and my mother had raised us all with STRICT gun safety and responsibility. This was a great thing which should never be talked about too much.
As I rummaged through the closet my brother Steve and I shared, I came across the brand new .22 rifle he was so happy about having received from his father. It was a semiautomatic, magazine fed rifle. First thing, I turned the weapon to its side and made sure there was no magazine, then, I pulled the bolt about a half dozen times to ensure the chamber was cleared. Just a s we were taught.
Turning to Sammy with the “cops and robbers” or “Indians and pioneers” laugh in our heads, we were joking about, the rife discharged. I knew this only because I heard an almost silent “pop” as I saw Sammy clasp his chest. I was still smiling at the thought of him acting out the silly part he was playing. Then, I realized, as he turned very starkly pale and blood ran between his fingers…it had happened. He collapsed and died, almost instantly at my feet, in my room, at my hand, in front of my face. I was not even yet a teenager nor was he.
It was not long after, at his funeral, his mother and father told me that they loved me and still welcomed and wanted me in their home. They loved ME??!! That was the moment when my heart really, truly…shattered.
I quit speaking for a long time, my friends at school called me names like “killer” “murderer” etc. Many joked that I did it purposely; kids can be very cruel, indeed. From those days, I no longer felt the love of God on my face. It went away and so did I. I resigned away to an existence (not a life) of all-consuming guilt and self-hatred beyond imagination.
His family left church, the dad became a drunk, the mother died of cancer, the sister a drug using prostitute. My family divided, all at my own hands. I could not bear it and simply just went away from everything. I joined the military to “get mine” and make certain that I would die. That I would be killed also. It never happened. I went out with the decision that I was going to hell and that I deserved nothing less and nothing better. I made a point to break every single commandment…many times over. I drank profusely, did drugs like candy and tried to find the ultimate, unforgivable sin, so I could commit it and guarantee myself an eternity in hell, where I belonged.
Now there is MUCH, MUCH more to this story as I have had a long life. But to this day, until Randall Taylor, I have never allowed myself to have a close friend. I refused to ever consider a “best friend” because I would not have their blood on my hands and deserved to suffer, all my life. I found new and creative ways to make myself suffer.
….And then came Jesus Christ, when I was so completely broken that I knew I was about to end my own life at my own hands. Enter a KING, into the life of a miserable pawn…but a pawn of heritage! I was also, His child and He, like the parents of my own and Sammy’s, told me that He loved me.
My heart surely burst, for I was given the understanding that guilt is not my own or His. I did not own it and it did NOT own me…but He did. I truly knew that this burden could be taken from me and I could, actually, mean something to someone one day. I mattered to one individual…GOD!
I wrote a song about it one day as well, and accepted both the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and that of my own. Sammy was never angry and never hated me. Jesus spoke to me and said, “In the great things you will do with the life I have given you, I will be pleased. You have survived all this to know, your very name, John. You are not here without anything else but John….John, means “God is Gracious” and He allowed you to come to this place, alive and spared you. I open your mouth, do not any longer, remain quiet.”
If you think you have issues with self-worth, esteem, value depression, etc. I TELL YOU A SOLEMN TRUTH….GOD shall overcome all things! Jesus Christ is the worker of miracles…even for someone like ME.