“Bury Me in Montana”

 Joe had prayed that God would stop his dad from beating on his mom when he came home drunk from the bar but nothing had happened to improve the situation. His dad was a Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. When sober, he was a great guy, hard worker, honest, well-liked, but when drunk, he became violent and took it out on his poor wife. Joe and his younger brothers weren’t able to stop him. So, Joe decided the only answer, since “God hadn’t done anything,” was to kill him. It was a Friday night and he knew his dad would be home shortly after the bars closed at 2 a.m. and his mom, who worked in a bar wouldn’t be home till even later, since she had to stay to clean up. Joe hid in the kitchen with his 22 rifle, the chamber and magazine loaded.  He had a clear path to the front door and planned to open fire as soon as he heard footsteps on the porch, shooting through the door, trusting the bullets would do their job before his dad could get the door open and reach him. But, that night, for some reason, his mom arrived home first!  You’ll have to get a copy of Joe’s book, Bury Me In Montana, to find out what happened (or email me and I’ll let you know).

     “Sonny” Joe White is a native Montanan, having attended schools in Whitefish, Kalispell, Sweet Grass, and Sunburst, Montana, as well as the University of Montana in Missoula (along with Skagit Valley Community College and Yale University). He worked as a farm hand, Korean linguist for the US Air Force, oilfield roustabout, refinery worker, salesman, truck driver, dispatcher, and hard rock miner. Bury Me In Montana was born of his search for answers–from his father and from God. His powerful tale of a childhood fractured by an alcoholic father gives a glimpse of the terrors abused families endure. “But”  Joe said, “It wasn’t all bad. We had good times. I live in wonder, amazed at human resilience and courage. We suffered, yet we emerged strong, able to love and forgive.” 
     But, it took Joe quite some time before he was able to forgive his dad. His book was really his venting of suppressed memories and feelings and his finally giving them over to God as he allowed the love and mercy of God to take over in his life. As a result, Joe has been able to share his story with many, offering them hope, not only through his book, but through sharing in churches and in schools. Domestic abuse is a serious problem in every community and people need to know that there is hope. Joe has been able to help many find the source of that hope as he shares his own life story.
     As  Joe looks back on his tumultuous life he recalls what he dreamed of becoming and doing in contrast to the path upon which he ended. He said, “Sometimes I wonder what might have been, but I don’t believe in ”Would’a, could’a, should’a.’  My feet are on the path the Lord intended for me, and I stand in awe of a God who holds us up to final victory. He inspired me to write (my story). But if life had been easy, I’d have nothing to say.” 
     I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul (whose life as a believer was packed with trials and adversity) wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort” (II Cor. 1:3-7). 
     Joe also spent a number of years working in Libby and while here had been helped out by a compassionate ER doctor during a time of crisis. He gave a signed copy of his book to the doctor as a thank you. Eventually that doctor loaned it to our neighbor, a paramedic, who in turn loaned it to me to read. Having finished the book recently, I emailed Joe (whose business card was still in the book) to ask permission to share his story in my “Wisdom of the Week” devotional. I got an immediate response and discovered that Joe and his wife were campground hosts in the Yaak near Libby, so this past Saturday, Kathy and I drove to Whitetail Campground, some 24 miles up the Yaak, to meet Joe and visit with him and his wife. What a delight!  How amazing when I think of how God orchestrated the details to bring about that meeting!  What an awesome God we serve! 
     If you want to know why Joe titled his book Bury Me In Montana, you’ll have to get a copy to find out. I don’t want to spoil that for you either. Joe is currently working on another book which will center more on his time in the military.  You can order his book by going to his website:  sweetgrasskid.com.
                                                                                                                        Forever His
                                                                                                                                    Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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