The Last Shall Be First

Recently, I attended my High School Reunion. 

It had the usual moments: stories remembered, old friends greeted, many laughs and a few tears.

At one point, a video played and showed the faces of fellow alumni who had passed away.

I knew about some of those who had passed, and some of the people I didn’t really remember.

However, when a photo of one person came up, it was someone I remembered immediately.

His name was Bruce Gutting.

Bruce wasn’t the High School football star, Homecoming King or voted Most Likely to Succeed.

What I vaguely remembered about Bruce was that he wasn’t like the other students at our school.

He spoke slower, he moved a bit awkwardly and, at times, would be a bit disheveled.

However, the one thing I remembered clearly about him was how absolutely kind, gentle, and innocent he was.

After I left the reunion, I couldn’t help but think about him.

It was only after looking up his funeral notice that I learned he had Muscular Dystrophy.

In all the years in High School, no one ever mentioned that.

In the epilogue of his obituary, it stated simply, “Mr. Gutting was a grocery store bagger.”

I was so touched when I read that. Something about that struck me as so poetically beautiful.

After High School, I moved to California and he stayed and worked in Wisconsin, where I grew up. I can’t tell you how much I wish I would have had the opportunity to visit him in that grocery store.

Boy, do I wish I would have had just a few minutes to have spoken to him. I don’t know if he would have even remembered me from High School. But, I remembered him. Such a kind soul.

I’ve thought about him many times since that High School reunion.

I wondered what it must have been like for him in High School to watch the popular athletes, the star students and all those noted people getting all the accolades and attention.

It’s been many years, but I don’t recall ever seeing him with a date at a school dance or Homecoming Formal. What must that have been like for him to not participate in those memorable days of our youth?

No, he didn’t go on to be an investment banker, a doctor, a lawyer, or someone the world tells us we must become.

He didn’t have a wife or children.

Yet, I find it interesting, that of all the people I knew in High School, he is the one I wish I could go back and spend some time with, catching up.

I would have treasured that.

Why? Because, he reminds me of the scripture found in Matthew 5:8 – “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

I think that people like Bruce are closer to God than so many of the rest of us.

It would be nice to spend some time with someone who is so close to God.

I think I could learn a lot from them.

I take comfort in the fact that Jesus said, “The last will be first.” (Matthew 20:16).

Whatever ailed Bruce on Earth, I know God has made it right in Heaven.

God willing, I will have a chance to have that conversation with Bruce one day, in Heaven.

I’m looking forward to that.

Keep the faith,