David Melton and his wife Jenny have been part of the Christ Church family for several years. I met David through his work as campus director for Campus Outreach on the UGA campus. I consider him a friend and have walked with him through the last days of his father's fight with cancer. Greg Melton died last Friday and on Sunday, his son stood in front of a room full of people in Dalton, Georgia to honor both his earthly father and his Heavenly Father. What follows are the notes David used in preparation to talk about his dad and the God who now calls both David and Greg his sons:
Good Afternoon. Over the past few days I have been talking with some of you about all the things that my dad really loved in life…things that made him the man we all knew and loved. So I decided to put together a list of some of my dad’s hobbies and mannerisms that we can all enjoy together as we remember him today:
- Golf…there was always a mat and a 9 iron in our living room…and Lowell Fritz was practically a member of our family
- Georgia Tech sports - and screaming at the TV when they lost (which was quite often)
- Popped collars and sweater vests (classic Greg Melton)
- Jogging through Fairington – at a snail’s pace, wearing a sweat suit, and carrying a plastic bat… which he used to hit any of the neighborhood dogs with that came after him
- Wearing the same gold glasses and wrist watch my entire life
My dad really loved this town and I think that is evident here in this room. We are so thankful for all of you… our family and our friends and for the support we have had leading up to this day. Some of you may be thinking, “Haven’t they been through enough?” “What are the odds that both Debbie and Greg would suffer from cancer?” “How is their family going to deal with this?” “I wish it could be another way.”
I’m speaking on behalf of my entire family, including my dad, when I say… “We wouldn’t have it any other way.” This is a story of God’s redemption, and mercy, and love and we want to give him all the glory. My dad and I have had many conversations over the past few years that we would have never had, had it not been for cancer.
Although we loved each other dearly, we had your average male relationship in which all we talked about was news weather and sports. Cancer changed all of that. We started talking about life, faith, the gospel – we were given this gift of being forced through the surface level conversation that we are all held captive to at times.
7 years ago when my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer the Lord began a work in our family that would change everything. I was a sophomore in college and looking for life and satisfaction in success and respect and girls and alcohol but that all changed in an instant. When your mom is in a hospital bed, you are given the ability to see all those other things as what they really are: a façade…things that promise true fulfillment but don’t deliver.
That began an investigation of Christianity for me and a real soul search. I had to ask myself the hard questions: Is there really a God? Is there really life after death? If so, where do I stand? By God’s grace alone I came to saving faith through Jesus and then my sister came to faith, and then my mom. If you have been around my mom for 5 minutes she will tell you how her faith has grown through cancer. But then there was my dad…
Many of you haven’t seen much of my dad over the past 5 years since he was diagnosed with cancer. I’m here today to testify, on his behalf, to what the Lord has done in and through him during that time.
He and I talked about the Christian faith a good bit over the last few years, and like any good lawyer he had many objections. You can also imagine his response when I took my Georgia Tech degree - that he paid for…all 5 years of it - and decided to go work for a college ministry at the University of Georgia. “You want to go where?! And do what?!”
Although he may have been skeptical initially, my dad always supported me 100% and quite often told me how proud of me he was. I never doubted that he loved me and was proud of me. But as we would address different objections to Christianity that he had, my response eventually would always be “Dad, regardless of theology, or church government, or denomination ALL Christians are unified under the foundational, biblical truth – that Jesus is the only way unto salvation. Christ said, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” So Dad, what do you believe about Jesus?
Our best conversations were always in the hospital, or in the car on the way to the hospital, and especially this last month when he was at home. A week ago, while we were snowed in, the Lord blessed my dad and me with one final conversation. I read 1 Peter 1:3-7 to him and asked, “Dad, have you thought much about our last conversation?” He said – “I have son I have been thinking about it a lot and I’m glad we are talking again.”Me – “well dad, do you know Jesus?” Dad – “No I don’t think I do. So here is what I need to do. I need to get healthy and then I can start this spiritual journey.” Me – “Dad I love you but you’ve still got it backwards. Christ said on the cross “it is finished." You don’t need to take a spiritual journey because Christ already took the journey on your behalf. He lived the perfect sinless life that neither you nor I could ever live AND he died the gruesome death that we deserved to die. It is finished, all you must do is repent of your unbelief and accept Christ’s payment on your behalf. Dad's tear-filled response was “So what do we do?”
Me – “All we can do is pray. Let me pray for you.” So we prayed through 1 Peter 1, that God would “cause him to be born again to a living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, that is being kept in heaven for him.”
So please know that although my dad will be deeply missed, we are thankful for how everything has transpired and we consider it an honor to suffer in a very small way for God’s glory. My dad is leaving behind a loving family, wonderful friends, a thriving and well respected law practice, and a beautifully restored building downtown affectionately known as “the PIG.”
But he is gaining an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading…and that is a pretty good trade off.