J. Marshall Jenkins

Author, Therapist, Spiritual Director

For My Father, C. Rees Jenkins, Jr.,1926-2016


My twice-born father, C. Rees Jenkins, Jr. with my once-born mother.

Blessed are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:6).

In his classic work in the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James distinguished between once-born and twice-born faith. (For the moment, shelve your preconceptions about “born again Christianity,” for they will confuse you.) The once-born live a cheerful faith with few doubts or conundrums. The twice-born pray, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”

Theirs is no easy faith. Mornings of hope follow nights of questioning in their quest, but James deemed their faith no less valid than that of the the once-born. Jesus healed the father’s son after his twice-born plea (Mark 9:14-32). God moves us forward.

Yes, us. I am one of the twice-born, as I suspect James was. But I publish this post neither to honor James nor to confess the joys and sorrows of my twice-born faith. I write to honor a man whose perseverance in faith despite disillusionments and misgivings set the example I need to carry on.

That man is my father, C. Rees Jenkins, Jr., who died on Saturday morning, September 17.

“The Lord never promised us justice on this side of the grave,” I recall my father pronouncing several times with Eeyore-like resolve. As I reflect on his words, I see that he was right. And wrong. He was right because faith requires moving forward with goodness even if we never see our just reward in this lifetime.

Yet, he was wrong, at least from a New Testament perspective. For Jesus promised that the kingdom will come to merciful fulfillment here in this broken, groaning world. His own mercy bore witness to that.

But I believe he now knows first hand that God’s justice is merciful.

Until retirement, my father was a banker, a trust officer who helped those with means secure and increase their wealth. During the week, he helped people play by the rules and get ahead in the secular world of finance. That world scarcely recognizes Jesus’ teachings about the difficulty of the rich entering the kingdom of God and the last becoming first and the first, last. But raised by a sainted father whose single-minded devotion in ministry kept holy motives ahead of profit motives, my father carried the unwieldy burden of both perspectives through his days.

Being married to a saint also kept the perspective of faith ever before him. Sometimes he sounded like Ebenezer Scrooge and other times like St. Francis of Assisi.

“Everything will be all right, son. The Lord has taken care of me, and the Lord will take care of you,” he said well into my adulthood as I talked with him on the phone amid the wreckage as I faced divorce and precarious financial fallout. He probably said it when I was younger, too, but only much later was I finally ready to hear. But he did not remind me that the Lord never promised justice on this side of the grave. He knew I knew that.

He was just as generous when I was young and ungrateful as when I was older and falling all over myself with gratitude.

Helping his children and others use their talents in meaningful service cast a sunny ray of meaning on his work in the cynical financial marketplace. He made my work possible, but not only because he provided so well. He set the example I needed to move forward with my twice-born faith.

Thanks, Dad. God may not have promised justice on this side of the grave, but your living a long life provided grace upon grace. Now that you are on the other side of the grave, may you savor the mercy of God’s justice.

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J. Marshall Jenkins

About J. Marshall Jenkins

J. Marshall Jenkins is an author, psychotherapist, teacher, and spiritual director. For several years he has been writing on the Beatitudes for people in emotional pain, publishing biweekly here on his Beatitudes Blog at http://www.jmarshalljenkins.com. His newest book, Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Hope with the Beatitudes, is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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109 Replies

  1. Annette Hilburn

    Marshall, my heart beams for your Dad’s faith! His words of wisdom along with faith walking throughout his journey give you and I and others hope as we all move forward in our faith. Blessings be his as he journeys ahead if you while keeping a watchful and prayerful gaze.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      I am truly blessed to have such faithful parents, and the fact that they carry their faith so differently has enriched mine. I’m so glad you catch some of the hope my father’s example offers, and your blessing is beautiful, dear friend.

  2. I remember your parents well and how much my Dad respected him as he worked with him!

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      I remember your Dad as a wonderful man. We are blessed!

  3. What a wonderful tribute! Happy birthday, Mr. Jenkins.

  4. Michael Parnell

    A lovely tribute to your father.

    I conducted a funeral last week for my music minister, who died suddenly.

    His life, much like the lives of many sons, was lived based on something his father told him.

    A father has such an impact on his son. Sometimes for good and sometimes from not so good.

    Thanks be to God for fathers that leave not fingerprints, but footprints in the lives of their sons and daughters.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      I am truly thankful for my father. Also, I am sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your church.

  5. Cinda McGuinn

    This post is so lovely. I am sitting here in tears. God bless you and your whole family.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thank you, Cinda. And as I receive your blessing, I think of what a blessing it would be to my family to meet you and remember Lumberton together! Maybe someday…

  6. “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us” Rob’t Burns, Thanks for your take on me. Dad

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Dad, thanks for that wonderful quotation and the many ways that you contributed to this post in particular and my life in general.

  7. Douglas

    Beautiful. Those of us who have these fathers have a gift. Thank you for honoring yours on his special day and sharing with us.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thanks for taking the time to honor him with me, and I am so glad you have a similar gift!

  8. Cornelia Gamble

    How perfectly expressed, Marshall! I love your mention of the glorious debate that will go on “until judgment day anyway.”

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Fortunately, it gets friendlier and friendlier…:)

      1. Elizabeth DeVane

        He has mellowed!

  9. Elizabeth DeVane

    You have hit the nail on the head this. I enjoyed this tribute to my big brother and my sweet sister-in-law. And my father. You left out mother. She was a saint also.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      I was wondering when you would comment! Your authority on these characters is needed to support my claims! And yes, your mother was a saint, too. Orphaned as a teenager and raising younger sibs as their mother, taking on the challenges of marrying a missionary and pastor, and keeping a strong faith, she deserves a tribute too.

  10. Please accept my sympathies in the loss of your father.

  11. Judging solely on the quality of his son’s character, I’d say he must have been an incredible man.

    He lived a long and full life.

    But all the same, I’m very sorry for your loss.

  12. Teresa

    Marshall, for those of us who did not know your father, your tribute gave insight to the marvelous man you called Dad. Knowing how difficult earthly goodbyes are you and your family will be in my prayers. I believe he was was so proud of the man he called son and one day you’ll be together again. ?✝?

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thank you, Teresa. We will miss him, and it will be a stranger world without him. But we will remain blessed by his life, and God will show us the fruitfulness of his death.

  13. Beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss.

  14. Wonderful Tribute to a fine man Marshall. My Prayers are with you and your family during this time.

  15. Marshall,I am so sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of working with your father at Southern National. He was fine man.

  16. I’m sorry for your loss J. Marshall.

  17. J Marshall Jenkins, Roger and I send our most sincere sympathies for the loss of your father.

  18. “He set the example I needed to move forward with my twice-born faith.” Beautiful. A moving and lovely tribute.

  19. You have my sympathy. That was a beautiful tribute.

  20. Marshall, please accept my condolences. His life was rich and enriched by your being his son.

  21. Please feel arms of great strength in your time of grief, gathering you up to the most high God. Love and prayers

  22. Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. May you be both blessed and comforted in your grief.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thank you, Jerie. God is doing that work powerfully through so many well-wishes like yours.

  23. So sorry Marshall, you are in our prayers.

  24. My love and prayers are with your family.

  25. Marshall, may his words continue to buoy you and bring him close by. I am so sorry for your loss.

  26. Oh Marshall, so sorry to see this. Condolences and love to you and your entire family from Tommy and me.

  27. So sorry. Blessings to you and your family .

  28. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Your dad sounds like such a blessing. It’s wonderful to know that he lives on in you and every life you touch.

  29. So sorry for your loss. Beautiful tribute

  30. My sincerest condolences. Your father signed off on my “Personal Finances” merit badge.

  31. Michael Parnell

    My father died in 1993. It was the hardest and bitterest of pills to swallow. But I was told something in that time that rung true.

    The doctor who tended to him told us he died. Then he looked at me and said, “You are never a man until your father dies.”

    Those words still ring in my ears. But they were true. Manhood fell upon my young shoulders and it remains today.

    A year after his death I wrote my column for the church newsletter. In it I said that Dickens was right. It was the best of times and the worst of times. When the shadow of my father was gone I had the sun fall upon me and it was up to me to grow. But the pain of seeing that mighty oak fall.

    My prayer for you and the family that there will be more laughter than tears. May the lessons learned in the days to come be such that you and yours will be stronger for them. My condolences.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thanks, Mike. I can already see the grace starting to shine in.

  32. Cornelia Gamble

    Amen, Marshall, Amen!

  33. Lovely words Marshall. Harry and I are thinking of you.

  34. Thank you for sharing this. Your family is in my prayers.

  35. Thinking about you and your family. May he Rest In Peace.

  36. So sorry Marshall. I will have you and your family in my prayers.

  37. Your family is in my prayers

  38. Sometimes I don’t have words Marshall. Right or wrong. I can only image he will be missed. And you are in my prayers.

  39. Teresa Czekalla

    Marshall, what a wonderful tribute to your dad. No doubt you will miss him. But, the things he left you with, you will ALWAYS carry with you. You and your family are in my prayers. Please know that.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thank YOU, Teresa, for your constant prayers and words of support and for minding the office while I’m gone. It means so much to know you’re there.

  40. You are in my prayers! Lovely family.

  41. So sorry to hear of the loss of your father. He was a great man. I thought a lot of him. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  42. Sorry for your loss marshall. Praying for you and your family!

  43. That’s an inspiring celebration of your dad; a great tribute to the impact we have on one another. Condolences to you and your family.

  44. A true gentleman if there ever was. I was lucky enough to have been able to call him friend and mentor.

  45. Marshall, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you had such a loving influence like his in your life.

  46. So sorry ….praying for peace and comfort on your family …

  47. You’re in my prayers, Marshall. I’m so sorry.

  48. Sorry to hear of your loss. Prayers for you and your family.

  49. So sorry to hear! Praying for your family during this time!!

  50. Prayers for you my friend. Loosing our dads is one of life’s hardest moments. May God give you peace.

  51. J Marshall Jenkins, holding your father, you, and all of your family in my heart & prayer!!!

  52. My prayers for you and Reece and all our family.

  53. Praying for peace and comfort!

  54. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing his story with us.

  55. So sorry for your loss. Prayers and Blessings!

  56. Rest eternal grant unto him O Lord.
    May your grief be gentle, Marshall.

  57. Sarah Whitley

    So sorry about your father. Your tribute to him was beautiful. With love, Sarah

  58. What an honourable way to speak of your dad. And the man that you are also speaks to his testimony. My heart hurts for you mind friend. Praying you find deeper grace and a sweet comfort as you go through this time.

  59. As I prepare to turn in for the night, I want to thank all of you who left these lovely comments. I cherish them and I cherish you. I opted not to respond to them individually as there are so many and we are preparing for Dad’s service tomorrow at 2pm (Shandon Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC). But your kind words have been a source of great comfort. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. I know what it’s like saying goodbye to a father.

      Praying for you.

    2. Thanks for your prayers and understanding, Ell. It’s good to hear from you.

  60. Marshall, I’m very sorry to hear the news of your Dad’s passing. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  61. My prayers and love to you all sweetheart

  62. May God bless and comfort you and your family

  63. So sorry for your loss. What a great man and father. I know you will miss him.

  64. My prayets are with you and your family, Marshall.

  65. Marshall, so sorry to see this. Much love to you and all of your family.

  66. Our sympathy, love, and prayers to you and all the family

  67. Melinda Brisson

    Marshall, I had the pleasure of working with your dad at SNB in the Trust Dept. Such a wonderful man. Prayers for you and your family.

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Thank you for your remembrance and prayers. It’s always especially nice to hear such kind words from those who worked with him.

  68. God bless you and your family Marshall.

  69. Prayers for you and your family in your time of loss. ?

  70. My prayers for you and all our family.

  71. Sorry about your father Marshall, prayers with you and your family.

  72. Sorry to hear this Marshall. He was a wonderful man

  73. May you be comforted by your family, faith & friends.

  74. May you be comforted by your family, faith, and friends.

  75. Freight Train, Sorry to read here of your loss, but take comfort in the time you did have, your faith, and the many well wishes of old friends.

  76. Dear Marshall, May the heartfelt wisdom you share with us come back to you ten fold:
    “But I must be clear: Mourning is much more than emotionally reacting to the sting of having an attachment ripped away like adhesive tape. It is a phase of love and necessary for joy.

    All who mourn will be blessed. They need not apologize. They will be comforted.”


    1. Wow! I’m impressed that you remembered that quotation to shoot back to me! I’m very touched, Sally B.

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