Sometimes, God Gives Us Great Favors

Monday, April 20, my brother-in-law and long time friend of 50 years, Jim Dunaway, Associate Minister of Centerville Methodist Church, passed away. His obituary and details of his visitation and funeral can be seen here.

We all knew that Jimmy’s time was short, but kept hoping that maybe his passing could be yet delayed. His last several days he nose dived. On Monday his wife of 50 years, my sister, Carole, his three sons — David, Dan, and Matt — his son’s wives, his brother-in-laws, gathered by his bed at Bethany Luthern. Patty, our long time friend, and Steven, pastor of Centerville Methodist, also were there. The wonderful nurses from Hospice told us Jim’s time had come.

Together, we read scripture and sang gospel songs. Steven and Patty read several beautiful passages, including Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd….” I was on the verge of suggesting we read to Jim the great thoughts about love in Corinthians — one big theme emphasized in Jimmy’s ministry has been the power and reality of unconditional love — and I was awestruck when, instead, Patty began to read a scripture that starts with a painful lament, a terrible thought, Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, the scripture Christ quoted on the cross. I had never listened to the words so carefully. The Psalm continues, “I am poured out like water, and all of my bones are out of joint … My strength is dried up … But be not far from me, O Lord, my strength, hasten to help me.”

The last to arrive was Danny, and it seemed after Danny got there, Jimmy acknowledged him and became more relaxed. Carole later said Jim was waiting for Dan. Jimmy’s breathing grew ever weaker and, as we were singing, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” Jim left us quietly, reverently. He was at rest. We were all in tears. We all had a profound sense of gratitude that it should end in such a way. It was a feeling that, on the day Jim went home, God had granted us a great favor by allowing things to come together as they had.

Jimmy was a Methodist minister for over 50 years. He started preaching when he was still a student at Asbury College. When he finally retired, he became an Associate Minister for Centerville Methodist, working a lot with the youth of the church. For the last two and one half years, Jim has been battling cancer that started in his prostate.

It had been a cold, rainy day. We got back to the house in south Dayton in the early afternoon, and Becky, David’s wife, returned to Columbus. Becky telephoned several hours later and said that over their house in Columbus was a beautiful complete rainbow. She said it was like Papa was smiling at them. We went outside and found the sun was shining amid a light drizzle, and, sure enough, in the sky shone a beautiful rainbow. We were all amazed. (I stole the rainbow pictures on this post are off the internet — but the one in Dayton today was very spectacular.) My niece, Jennifer, who lives in Lexington, knew nothing about the rainbows in Dayton and Columbus. But she sent a text message and said that in Lexington, there was a beautiful rainbow. It was like Jimmy was smiling at her, she said.

Such a strange mixture of emotion, when tears mean many different things and all at the same time. It hurts. But when the time came to let him go, through it all, God’s grace hastened to help us.  Jim leaves eleven grandchildren and a multitude of people to whom, throughout his life, he showed the light of unconditional love. His is a life well lived. He fought a good fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith.  Jim Dunaway has been a big part of my life for the last 50 years. He is a great friend, and I am going to miss him very very much.

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4 comments to Sometimes, God Gives Us Great Favors

  • Vaughn Beams

    Hello Mike,
    I am sorry your friend has passed away. He certainly touched many lives, including mine now.
    Vaughn

  • Roger Wright

    Mike

    Thank you for the message and thinking to send it to me. My wife, Rhoda and I are grateful for your thoughts about Jim. He will surely be missed by many.

    God Bless you and the family.

    Roger & Rhoda

  • Steven Fewell

    Thank you, Mike, for your willingness and ability to share your love for Jim with all of us. I believe the rainbows remind us of two things: God’s promise of eternal life and enduring love is real and trustworthy and JIm continues to inspire and support us now from heaven. He was a good friend and my spiritual mentor these past six years. I miss him and look forward to the encouragement of his spiritual presence all my days. God bless you, Carol, and all the family.

  • Jim Pack

    Mike,

    I responded to the obituary on line but just got to your writings today…nothing less than what I would expect. You have a worthy gift to express things well in writing. Your reflections on my mother were the most meaningful (by a mile) from any that we received from friends and family.

    When we were pulling the pictures off the camera that Amy had taken in Honduras we found that she had taken a picture of a mountain that you can see from the town where she was working…a year later while I was there in Honduras and we conducted the three day Amy Pack Memorial Crusade the local radio station contacted me and told me that they had planted a tree in Amy’s honor on top of that same mountain…they had heard the story of her coming there to minister and that she had become ill and passed away and wanted to do something in her memory…when I returned home and we looked to see if the picture was of that mountain it was in fact that mountain…a real confirmation to us that God knew.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    Jim Pack

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