Wednesday was a hard day. I struggled from the moment I awoke. After spending a night of tossing and turning, I could hardly bring myself to look at my phone. While I wanted to check the time, I didn’t want to be greeted by unwanted news. The day before, we were informed that one of our friends had been life-flighted out of the valley due to a stroke. We immediately began to pray for him and his wife. Updates were limited and not very hopeful when delivered. After a day of appointments, which went well into the night, we went to bed pleading for a miracle, despite the doctor’s grim prediction that he would not make it through the night.
Eventually, I checked my phone. There was no news, and yet somehow, in my spirit, I knew that was news in and of itself. I dutifully checked for any updates all morning, and our suspicions were confirmed early afternoon. Our hearts broke, our eyes became swollen, and our heads ached, as we cried, as grief bombs continued to assault us randomly throughout the day.
Web-like interconnected emotions
We suddenly found ourselves thrown into the web of grief quite unexpectedly and bounced around quite rapidly within the normative emotions that come with grief. Nobody saw this coming. Thankfully, God cleared our schedule of all but one client appointment for Wednesday through cancellations. Thursday is typically our admin day, so we recognized that provided a short, condensed time for us to actively grieve before returning to client work Friday.
We often encourage clients to tell us, or someone else, about the person they’ve lost. Many times, that is a more achievable task, than describing the emotional content they are experiencing.
So, I’d like to tell you about him. He was a godly man. He loved mission work and supported not only our ministry, but others’ as well. He was a businessman. He had a brotherly way of teasing those he loved, with just a little gleam in his eye to go with the smile and inviting laughter.
See, this man wasn’t just any friend. He was one of our very first friends that helped welcome us to the valley and helped us feel at home in the valley. He and his wife took us to lunch after church, invited us into their home, and shared life with us, even after we changed churches. There was a kindred spirit between us, that connected us beyond the surface.
Acts of Love
He let us store our belongings in his barn while we were homeless. He helped us move furniture into the house where we currently live. He brought food to our front door when we didn’t have sufficient funds for groceries.
The first time we went to their house for dinner, there was a power outage. The meal and fellowship were probably elevated to the next level simply because we ate and visited by candlelight and lanterns. There’s something about the reduced light that can lower one’s defenses.
We discovered some similarities in our life journeys, although the make-up and individual components and circumstances vary greatly. There are places in each other’s story where we could empathize through difficult life lessons and character-building excursions that only God could design to bring about growth.
He was a manly man. I remember at one lunch outing; he borrowed his wife’s readers. It takes a man secure in his true identity, to be able to pull off wearing glasses with rhinestones and other “girly” accents without even a hint of awkwardness.
Often referring to himself as a “leaky vessel”, he was also a big teddy bear or gentle, godly giant who made you feel like you were the only one that mattered when you were visiting with him, and he always had a hug of friendship for you.
Other Memories and Celebrated Qualities
He liked a great cup of coffee. We even agreed on the type of roast that defines “great”. I was also informed by him that it is important that one have a properly shaped and weighted mug to drink coffee from. The style of the lip and handle mattered, in addition to the overall weight. None of that dainty, pinky in the air stuff. Or so he opined when we were dreaming about having custom mugs made for the ministry at some future time.
There were big dreams, and sacred places, where we spoke into each other’s lives about what God was showing us for each other in those dreams. Obviously, he is not the agent to bring those dreams to fruition.
We had a running inside joke. He enjoyed the worship flags that I fly, but there was always a little teasing about whether or not God thought pink flags were appropriate. So, that just became a “thing” that we could tease each other about. I made and gifted him his very own “contraband” pink flag which he promptly gave to his wife.
Leaving a Legacy
He leaves a legacy behind. Not just any legacy, but a godly legacy evidenced by the impact of allowing the Fruit of the Spirit to pour from him and touch those around him. I hope others can say that about you and me when our time comes. “They lived their faith. They were a faithful servant.”
Wednesday, September 1, 2021, a wife lost her husband, children lost a father, parents lost a son, a pastor’s wife and her siblings lost a brother, a community lost a stalwart, a mission organization lost a director, a church lost an elder, and we lost a friend, encourager, and supporter. And yet, we hold to this hope, we do not grieve as those without the eternal gift of salvation. We have an assurance that we will see him again in Heaven.
For now, in order to keep running the race set before us, we hold to the Lord’s promise:
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.
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