Well done, good and faithful servant.
Aren’t those the words that every true believer prays to hear upon meeting the Father in Glory?
I am quite confident that Gene Rice, Adam’s beloved “Papa,” was greeted with those words when he entered the presence of his Heavenly Father early on the morning of January 25, 2012.
I honestly didn’t know Papa as well as I would have liked. By the time I became a part of the Rice family, Adam and I were practically grown and in the real world, and we only made it back to the farm in Mississippi once or twice a year, usually around the holidays. A few days out of the year didn’t afford me much time to get to know this precious man, one of my husband’s greatest heroes.
What I did know immediately after meeting him was that Papa had a sweet, sweet spirit. His heart was controlled by the Spirit of Christ. You couldn’t miss that, even if you only spent a minute with him.
During the funeral service, Papa’s pastor made the comment that he was “a prince of a man.” My brother-in-law expounded on this by saying, “he was a prince of a man because he made everyone else feel like princes and princesses.” This was true. He made you feel important and loved, even if he barely knew you.
I was always greeted me with a big smile, a hug, and a chipper, “Hey Gal!”
I was truly struck by the depth of emotion and grief expressed by the family at Papa’s death, particularly by Adam and his brother Bo. These young men were greatly influenced by their grandfather, more than I ever realized. They loved him so much. They love him still. Of course, all families grieve the loss of a loved one. But this grief and this respect were so deep, so heartfelt.
On our way back to Kentucky, Adam expressed to me how much his Papa’s life inspired him to be a better husband and father, a better student, a better worker, a better Christian.
And it wasn’t that Papa necessarily did anything “great” according to the standards of this world. From what I gathered, he was a rather simple man. Oh, but he was steady and strong. And he was faithful. He was faithful in his work. He was faithful to his family. Most importantly, he was faithful to his God. He loved deeply and he loved well.
And isn’t that all that really counts? When we get to the end of our lives, is it going to matter how educated we were or how much money we made? Is it going to matter how many places we traveled or how much stuff we accumulated? We so easily get caught up in seeking after these things…these things that seem most important right now.
But none of that matters a bit if we aren’t touching lives, loving deeply, and passing along a legacy for Christ. The rest of it is going to burn. Death has poignant way of reminding us of this truth.
In preaching the funeral, Bo continually stated that his Papa was “a man of great influence.” And each time I heard this, my heart resonated, Yes, this is true! And thank you, Lord! Because this is what really matters in life.
Though my children will not know Papa, they will be influenced by him because their own father knew him well. My Adam is a hard worker, a loving husband, a wonderful dad, and a faithful follower of Jesus because he learned it from his father, who learned it from Papa. Papa’s influence has great ripple effects into future generations.
And for this, I know the Father is well-pleased. I can just imagine Papa meeting his Jesus… big smile on his face, blue eyes twinkling, set free from sickness and sin. And I can imagine the Lord greeting him with these words: ” Job well done, faithful servant. Life well lived. Enter into your eternal reward.”