Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
Every decent pastor knows that a time of mourning is hardly a time for puns and dad jokes. I am one of those decent pastors who knows this; one does not earn a Th.D. without taking classes like Pastoral Theology, where such matters are covered with grim seriousness. And yet, I am reasonably certain that no one pastors people who are quite as interesting as mine. Combine that with the fact that I have a nearly irrepressible sense of humor anyway, and decorum sometimes gets completely obliterated.
“Preacher, I have an odd question. I told the funeral home to save the metal out of Daddy’s body, and all the kids are wanting to know if you can make some things out of it?”
By way of context, you should understand that earlier that day, we had the funeral for a dear gentleman who had, through the years, accumulated a rather startling amount of plates, rods, bolts, etc., in his body. He had fallen through multiple roofs, had serious wrecks and crashes, and could set off a metal detector from half a block away.
He had also requested that his body be cremated. Naturally, this is going to result in ash handed to the family and metal that would normally simply be discarded. And thus came the unusual phone call asking me if I could make something out of the metal. You see, I have been a preacher since I was twelve years old, but I have also been a goldsmith since I was seventeen. I even owned and operated my own jewelry store for ten years before I closed it down to be in ministry full-time. I kept all of my equipment and still play around with it as a hobby.
“Could you make rings out of it for all of the brothers and sisters?”
That, naturally, is a pretty logical request to ask of a pastor/goldsmith, even though I am reasonably certain the metal they will be retrieving is titanium, which my torches may not be sufficient to handle. I have to do some research on that one. But it was what came next that obliterated the safeguards of my professional theological training to bits.
“I really want to use some of it to make a fishing lure, so I can keep taking daddy fishing with me.”
I am going to go out on a limb, here, and surmise that I am the only pastor in the history of the world that has ever heard those words. I could hear the chuckle in his voice, and I knew that he was maybe halfway kidding. He is an avid fisherman, as are his brothers, as was his father. They spent countless hours together around a lake from the time they were barely able to walk until their dad got too sickly to get out of the house.
In the background, I could hear his wife saying, “No, just no. Preacher, tell him that the answer is no.” But I was already losing it, and my pun meter was blowing a gauge.
“No, wait, he has a good point! That is a sharp idea; I mean, really catchy!”
“Preacher!” She hollered in mock disgust, “you are not helping!”
This was a few days ago, and I still cannot get it off my mind. I do not know if my torches will get hot enough to make rings, but with my flex shaft and other tools, I could absolutely make some first-rate fishing hooks, even some simple lures. The man could very literally be catching fish years after his death. Irreverent? Maybe just a little. Creative and unforgettable? Absolutely…
It is always good when fathers and kids both know Christ as their Savior and know that they are being reassembled piece by piece into a family circle for eternity. Nothing at all is more important than that. But it is also always good when moms, dads, and kids have ties that bind them here and now, something more than mere biological descent. Even just worshiping together is rarely effective at keeping a family tight, if that is all there is. Hours spent hunting together, hiking together, playing together, fishing together, camping together, or whatever else it is that you do, are the things that I most often hear families mention at funerals.
In 2 Kings 19:4, when Absalom was killed, David, his father, wailed, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” But David also went two full years without seeing or speaking to Absalom while he was alive. And yes, I understand full well the issues and family problems that preceded that. But nothing changes the fact that David is seen many times as a great warrior, often as a great king, frequently as a great builder, regularly as a great musician and composer, but never as a man who spent time just building relationships with his children.
When I die, I do want my children to remember me as a genuine man of God, a man who prayed with his family each and every day, a man who preached to thousands, and a man who lived what he preached. But I also want them to remember my dad jokes and puns, our vacations, time splashing in the pool together, weekly movie and pizza night, every Christmas Eve watching the Muppet Christmas Carol together, playing ball together, me reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia to them, and a thousand other fun things we did just because we are family.
In the meantime, I am hopeful that I will be able to spend a few hours at my workbench making a one-of-a-kind fishing lure. Its official name will be the “Mull-et,” a play on the dear father’s name. The unofficial name will be a play on words, the much cooler “Body Snatcher.”
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at email@example.com, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.