January 17, 2022

Pastoral Nuggets: He Chose Dying Instead of Changing

Brother AaronWithout a doubt, my father was the greatest man I ever knew. He loved the Lord, he loved his family, he loved his church, he was honest and hardworking, he could fix anything, and he literally could play any musical instrument that had strings. He was part of the generation that Tom Brokaw called: The Greatest Generation.

He spent four years in active combat, island hopping in the Pacific Theatre of World War Two. When the war was over, he simply returned home and got about the business of raising a family. As I said, he was the greatest man I ever knew.

However, like all of us, he did have some character flaws. The greatest being, he was stubborn beyond belief. He didn’t get mad and carry on a whole lot. He didn’t fuss with you. He would just simply “out-stubborn” you.

When he made up his mind about something, you could forget changing him. It wasn’t going to happen! (My wife says the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree – but for the life of me I don’t understand why she would say that!)

Anyway, he was kinda like my Paw-paw Messer. Paw-paw Messer didn’t believe the earth rotated. You could present him with all the scientific data and talk to him until you were blue in the face. It didn’t matter. His mind was set and you were not going to change him. His simple logic was that if the earth rotated, then every morning when he got up his front porch would be where his back porch was. I didn’t say it made sense. I said that was his logic.

At ninety-five years of age, my daddy died because of his stubbornness. Up until the moment he breathed his last breath he was in full control of his mental faculties. In fact, mentally speaking, he was probably sharper than I am. However, his body wore out.

He had neuropathy and almost no blood flow in his legs. Because of this, he had no feeling in his legs. Consequently, he put his foot too close to a space heater and burned his big toe. Home health care led to nursing home wound care.

The doctors told him (and us) that if they didn’t do something the toe would setup gangrene and kill him. They told him that it would do no good to amputate just the toe. They needed to amputate his leg above the knee where he had good blood flow. He refused.

He told me (and my siblings), “Don’t you let them cut my leg off.  I don’t want to die a peg-legged man!” My siblings and I conferred and made the decision that he was fully lucid and whether we agreed with it or not, he had the right to make his own choice. He died as he lived – on his terms. He passed into glory hugging and comforting my oldest brother and my sister – with both legs intact – I might add!

The Spiritual and practical application to my story is simple. Whether it be as individuals, corporations, churches, society, or some other entity, when we view our circumstances, weigh the evidence, realize that change is required for survival, but decide not to change, then death is eminent.

I honestly believe that my daddy weighed the evidence regarding his situation, decided he had had a good run, and that he wasn’t willing to endure the pain the changes would cause.  In short, he chose dying instead of changing.

All too often lives are shattered, dreams are crushed, marriages are destroyed, children are torn between two competing parents, careers end, relationships are dissolved, churches split and sometimes even close their doors, health fails, and yes, people even die – because somebody decided the pain associated with the changes needed to sustain life – was too great.  They chose dying instead of changing.  I wonder – is God speaking to you today?

Brother Aaron




  1. I sure do admire your daddy and the fact that y’ll allowed him to make that final decision. I hope I have the same opportunity as your daddy, to decide my fate, and the courage to see it through.

    • red montgomery says

      Your DAD proved he had control of HIS LIFE! HE made HIS choice. My wife did the same. I miss her so much but I am proud to have LOVED someone with such self-determination.

  2. Great article and message. Sorry for your loss.

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