From earthly commode to heavenly abode

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, November 23, 2023

I first met Gary James Smith at the Cochrane Outhouse Races in 2007. I’m looking forward to meeting him again in… Well, I’ll get to that in a minute, but first a little background on our coffee companion.

Gary, a passionate poet of Christian spirituality, regularly sent me his writings from the time we first met. His words and life have been an inspiration to many. His death at age 77 earlier this month prompts me to share some of his insights.

Gary always saw himself as undeserving and was ever-conscious of God’s grace: “The Holy Spirit brought it home / The sinner that I was  / And hallelujah, praise the Lord / Christ died for sin for us / I saw it clearly in the Word / That Christ died for sinful men / I repented and believed / And praise God I became born again!”

Thus, conscious of God’s love in all circumstances, Gary wrote: “Through many trials and tribulations Lord / You are my hiding place / Where I'm sheltered in Your arms of love / And showered by Your grace.”

God was his perpetual guide: “And I don't live by circumstance / But in Your great grace and mercy / You've lightened my life's pathway.” And in walking along that pathway, Gary wrote: “And under the wings of my Lord God Almighty / I've tasted of His gracious protection.”

He saw those wings as God’s servants, bringing him to his everlasting home: “Sheltered am I under the wings / Of an everlasting Saviour / Who is covering me there with His love / Drawing me nearer and praise God... nearer / For by faith in Him I have been given new ĺife / For I have an everlasting hope / And that faith is soaring continually / In all of the days that I have left here to cope.”

With Gary’s death and poetry echoing through my soul, I sat down to last Saturday evening’s dinner with Mary Anna and turned on The Lawrence Welk Show, as is our custom. His big band program that evening included a number that must have been divinely inspired for this very moment. Yes, it was all about where I can look forward to meeting Gary again. I’ll close with the unforgettable refrain:

“In the sweet by and by / We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”


© 2023 Warren Harbeck

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