FB conversion pixel

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Steve and Rachel


I would like to take this blog to share some thoughts related to some personal experiences from the past few months.  A few months ago, one of my dear, dear friends succumbed to the insidious attacks of cancer that had been battling her body for several years.  Her husband, also a dear, dear friend, on Christmas Eve received word that a cancer which had been operated on earlier this year, and metastasized and spread to multiple places in his body, and the prognosis was not good.  He went on to glory just three days later.  I led both of their memorial services, his just yesterday. I also led the service when their eldest son was killed in a car accident just a few short years ago.  And my heart breaks for the two remaining sons and their young families, having lost so many so loved one in such rapid succession.  

Death is a hard thing even in the best of circumstances, but when it comes in such overwhelming doses, the weight can be very heavy.

I shared with some of them before I left how truly great friends their parents have been in my life.  I told them that, in life, we only meet such people occasionally, and that when you find such friends, treasure them and never let them go. 

Such people are friends for life. 

The funny thing was, one of the daughters-in-law said that the couple said the same thing about my wife and I. I want to share some words of tribute about these dear folks with you, and what it is that so impressed me by these incredible, every day sort of people.

Steve and Rachel faced many hard things in life. They lost children through miscarriage, and one little girl who died at birth.  He heard God’s called to ministry and left a good job to study at seminary, taking with him his wife Rachel and their three young boys.  While there, she unexpectedly required serious brain surgery, and when she tells the story, it is filled with wonder at God’s protection and provision.  She always wanted to share her story, and before she went to heaven, she recorded a piece and posted it.  They moved from place to place after seminary as he pastored several churches over 30 years, and at each place they brought a touch of joy, laughter, beauty and deep caring, evidencing the work of the Holy Spirit through their leadership.

These friends of mine were great servants of God. They invested themselves, invested their funds, invested their lives in showing the love of Christ for decades with anyone and everyone they met.  They modeled for their churches what it means to follow Jesus in daily life, the importance of sharing God’s option for forgiveness and salvation through Christ to anyone and everyone willing to listen.  

Steve’s compassion showed every time he met with families in grief or struggling in other ways, usually in the form of tears on his own face.  His commitment to Christ was lived with no looking back…trusting God, as they both did, with every day of his life and with his future, both here and in eternity. He reminded people time and again that the only way to be truly happy in life, is when you are doing with your life what God calls you to do, obedient to his call and commands.

I loved Steve particularly because of his wonderfully obnoxious sense of humor.  Never a stuffed shirt, Steve loved to laugh, loved to make others laugh, and could find humor in even the hardest of circumstance.  If anyone lived out the verse that says “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” it was Steve.  His love for youth and ongoing involvement with children and teenagers kept his heart young for all 68 years of his life.

All the heartaches that they experienced in life were unable to knock them out of their trust in God, no matter how hard Satan tried to shut them down.  In the midst of some of the roughest experiences this life can bring, their comment always was that God knows what is best, God knows what he is doing, and God can be trusted even if we don’t understand what he is up to.  

I will always appreciate the way these two wonderfully godly individuals touched my life, shared in my joys and sorrows, provided encouragement and example and challenges that have kept me on track and going day to day.  They will be missed, not only by me, but also by many others with whom they have shared in ministry for many years.  It is a wonderful thing to know that these friends are not lost to me forever.  Their clear commitment to Christ means that one day, I will get to spend time with them again, in the very presence of God forever.  

Thank you, my dear, dear friend