Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Memorial

I don’t know.. Maybe it is just because I am getting older, but I am going to too many Memorial services lately. I just don’t like it.

Dr. Wendell Smith, our wonderful pastor for the last 16 years passed away recently after battling cancer for 6 years. Thousands of people from around the world showed up about a week ago to pay their respects and it was a mighty tribute to his life and legacy. I would have really preferred that they were all there to listen to one of his marvelous sermons. He was too young and will be greatly missed.

A few days ago, I went to the Memorial service of a dear friend of mine, John Parrott. John was a long time missionary in Mexico where he lived a poor peasant life, ministering to those around him. His skill as a mechanic kept many an old appliance, car, bus or truck running. He lived a servant’s life there as he shared the Lord along with his gifts of love, humor and grace.

John never tried to be the center of anything. He was always on the outside of the center, being a servant. When his mother became ill, John returned to this area and became not only a servant to her for the rest of her life, but also served Pastor Wendell as personal assistant, there to take on any assigned task with a joy in the doing.

John always had a hug and a kind word for anyone who crossed his path and his relationship with me was one of grace and gentleness, qualities I learned to blend into my own life through his example.

John was a serious diabetic and the disease ate away at him over the recent years, yet he never complained. He told another pastor that he could easily lay down on the sofa, close his eyes and slip into heaven if it were not that his mother needed him to care for her needs.

In late December, both John and his mother were in the hospital he was there because of her heart and John was there because the diabetes was starting to shut down his organs, as it had happened with my own sister, Judy.

On December 27th, during the mid-morning, John’s mother, Jean Peterson closed her eyes and went to heaven. Two hours later, in another part of the same hospital, John sighed deeply and slipped into heaven right behind his beloved mom.

A tenor sang the song, On Eagle’s Wings as we said goodbye to both Jean and John. The words here do not capture the joy in Christ we felt as we thought of them at home with Jesus.

And he will raise you up on eagle's wings,

bear you on the breath of dawn,

make you to shine like the sun,

and hold you in the palm of his hand.

Goodbye my dear brother. You made a difference in my life and the lives of all who knew you. Let it be said that you filled your life as a faithful servant of the Lord.

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