Thursday, September 26, 2013

Breaking the barrier

7:18 p.m. Today's project was to attend my dad Oliver Gray's memorial service at the National Veterans' Cemetery. The entire family was there. Many of his grandchildren and both my sister and I spoke. Each one brought out the aspects of their grandpa's conversations and guidance that meant the most to them. It was evident that my father had so much delight in his grandsons and great-grandsons! My sister Dona shared about my dad being part of  the Greatest Generation. Our Uncle Pat, Daddy's youngest brother and pastor of a church in Barstow, shared a few memories and read a beautiful poem to us.

Here are the remarks I made to conclude our service, and point our family to Christ:

                                                                "Breaking the Barrier"

"One morning this week, I was in the kitchen about 7:00. I automatically shut the door connecting the kitchen and the dining room out of sheer preventive habit, even though there was no reason to block the exit. Our mischievous toddler Clark, the reason for the barrier, wasn't even up yet!! Our minds tend to accept both real and perceived barriers, don't they?

In 1947, Daddy's biggest hero Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier, taking off from Muroc Field over the Mojave Desert, a B-29 bomber carrying him in an X-11 experimental plane attached underneath. Dozens of pilots had lost their lives in the attempt. (I knew much about airplane science because Daddy spent several hours with me weekly as a junior high girl teaching me the science of flight out on our patio in Redlands. Ailerons, lift... Maybe I was the son he never had). Back to Chuck Yeager!

At 761 mph, the shuddering and shock waves in the plane gave way to a sea of glass as Yeager reach Mach 1.07, breaking the unbreakable barrier. In the 50's, Dona and I would get so excited as sonic booms shook the house and rattled the sliding glass door. Then came the BOOM! Great stuff!

But a stronger, more impenetrable barrier was crossed that day over the desert, a barrier that challenges us all-- the belief barrier. Daddy crossed that barrier over 33 years ago as I had the privilege of leading him to the Lord in the kitchen of son Sean's and my tiny apartment. That's a barrier we all must cross, to have faith in the saving grace of Jesus Christ as Daddy did. 

Though he rarely got to church, Daddy read all of Billy Graham's books and supported the work of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He always packed a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, or, in later years, gave me a check and a box to fill and deliver to church in his name. His latest reads now that he knew he was approaching death were Billy Graham's Nearing Home (of which he insisted on buying me a copy); and Anne Graham Lotz' Heaven: My Father's House.

Now Daddy has crossed the ultimate barrier, from death to life, the same barrier that my Steve crossed in January--from earth to heaven. Not at the mere speed of sound, but at the speed of Light, to JESUS, the Light of the World."

Thank you for being here today. 


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