For the sake of this story, which is based on true events but not specific to a certain person, we will call this man Only.
There was another man who had a father, sister and daughter. For the sake of this story, we will call him Ever.
Only was raised in a close-knit family, which often gathered together for meals, celebrations and fellowship.
Only attended a local church and was there almost every Sunday. When he was 10 years old, his father passed away from an illness. Soon after the death, Only rebelled against church attendance. When he moved out of the family home as a teenager, he stopped going to church altogether.
Ever’s father discovered his mother’s infidelity, and Ever’s parents were divorced when he was 10 years old.
What followed were times of great economic struggle. It was not uncommon for Ever to go to bed having eaten just one skimpy meal throughout the course of the day. Ever went to church only three times in his pre-adult life, twice for Christmas services with a school friend and once for an Easter service with a high school girlfriend.
Only got a job in a local business. He thrived because of his people skills, honed through years of learning to deal with the ups and downs of a big family.
Only often visited his mother, whose health declined in her late 50s. He and his brother took turns making sure she had what she needed. They supported each other through the difficult times, including their mother’s death.
When Only was 35, he fell in love with a woman. Two years later, they were married. A year after that, they had a baby boy. Only was caught off guard by the depth of love he felt for his son on the day of his birth, and that love continued to grow.
Ever dropped out of college and bounced around from job to job. He struggled with interpersonal relationships, and couldn’t seem to find the right fit in any employment.
Moving from town to town, his relationship with his father and sister dwindled to an occasional how-are-you-doing phone call.
When Ever was 35, he met a woman at a bar. They dated for a few months and broke up. A short time later, Ever found out the woman was pregnant. She had a daughter, but Ever was not a part of the girl’s life with the exception of a monthly check the court ordered him to pay.
When Only turned 60, his wife had passed away and he realized life’s slope was downhill — and fast. He tried to spend as much time as he could with his son. He often told him how much he loved him. The son, busy with the cares of his own life, acknowledged his father but had little time for him. Still, Only couldn’t fathom any greater love than he had for his son. With his last breath at the age of 70, his love for his son died along with him.
When Ever turned 60 and was living in a beaten-down part of a small town, he was visited by a neighbor. They had similar life experiences and struck a friendship. The new friend told Ever about getting saved and how it changed his life.
A few months later, Ever became saved. He visited his elderly father and prayed with him on his deathbed. He reunited with his sister, who had the resources to help him find and reunite with his estranged daughter. He died at the age of 70 with family by his side, believing his love would continue eternally.
Only and Ever are composites of real people in the world today. Only is a part, confined to life in this world. Ever is a part of forever.