In Memoriam: Forrest Johnson
The other day, my friend Forrest Johnson died. Not many took note of his passing even though he was pretty much a fixture in Bremen Georgia. I do not know how long ago it was that he opened his barber shop. In recent years he had not cut much hair. People usually avoided his shop with its worn out chairs, and the man with worn out equipment who talked mainly of the Lord Jesus Christ, and presented his ideas on various subjects as he worked.
Some avoided his shop too because it attracted people who had let life pass them by, and they came to the shop to visit when they had no place else to go and were bored where they had been. I would come by and endure his fooling with my hair with dull clippers simply because I liked Forrest, for no better reason than that he loved the Lord.
Forrest lost his son in Vietnam. I went to high school with the boy and quite frankly did not like him. Maybe I felt guilty because I liked Forrest and despised the son for a bully, and I felt guilty that I could not be sorry he had been killed. Whenever Forrest mentioned his son I listened politely and offered nothing. But from what I heard the boy did one good thing in his life and that was leave enough insurance behind that Forrest was well enough fixed financially it did not matter whether people brought their business to his shop or not.
Forrest worked for years on inventing a mechanical perpetual motion machine. Now you might thing that was silly. But he had actually come up with some pretty good ideas for creating such a device. Had he been able to build it I think once he got it going it would have run quite a long time before friction would have finally overcome it. It was sort of a self invigorating gyro and such a gizmo could have been put to quite a number of useful applications, perhaps even in the state to which Forrest had refined it.
One of the problems with Forrest was as a preacher he was willing to listen to anyoneís religious theories and consider them in depth. I say this was a problem because as he grew older and his mind lost its sharpness those ideas began to confuse his religious doctrine and it became more and more uncertain how ideas about religion would come out of his lips. This could be very confusing to a person unlearned or seeking to know the truth. But Forrest was my friend and I held him dear because he gave his friendship freely.
The last time I saw Forrest he gave me a little piece he had written some time before and asked me to read it. I told him I would but lost it in my briefcase until sometime after I had heard he was gone. So in memory of my friend I have copied it here to share with you. As you read it you will know about a man, you likely never met, nor will probably ever hear of again. But maybe some time you will thing of this angular man who wore an out of style suit and looked every day as if he had been groomed to lie down in his coffin on that day. A good man was Forrest Johnson. And a man who walked in the way he thought best, not the way he thought would bring either popularity or fame.
The Story We Can Never Tell
Itís the old, old story we know so well,
Itís the old, old story we cannot tell.
We remember Gideon with his pitchers of light
Ran every enemy clear out of sight,
We remember Daniel with his little sling and his great fight,
It was not really him, but it was through Godís might.
We remember Jacob at the well
All of this story, we could never tell,
We remember Daniel in the lionís den,
We see Godís presence manifest again.
More and more sin abounds,
And Satan gives us the run around.
Bu in the wake,
God still saves for Christís sake.
The three Hebrew children would not bend,
So the king gave orders again.
As the fire did soar, they defied the orders more.
Let the king rage, for Christ was there to save.
The One who taught us to pray will soon come and take us away.
Scoffers may laugh, but we shall enter the portal at last.
Then we shall hear our blessed Savior say,
ChildrenÖItís pay day!
So, let us remember and never forget,
Let us work and never quit!
Forrest D. Johnson
May 21, 1997
Note: Forrest lived another nine years after writing this, and he never quit working.
A man like all men, full of faults. But whatever you thought of Forrest, he loved the Lord and he loved the brethren.
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113