Sometimes the call can be difficult. The phone rings and you hear those dreadful words that someone dear to you has died. Our first response is sadness. But for those who believe, there is comfort and assurance in knowing they are a child of God. There is a peace that passes all understanding. Immediately, we realize we have been called to duty and hesitation isn't an option. Within 24 hours, we were on the journey of over 1200 miles to seek the family and friends who now grieve the loss of such a precious loved one. In this case, a pastor's wife full of joy in serving the Lord, an accomplished pianist, a Christian school prinicipal, and someone with whom you could never spend too much time. We covered over 1000 miles in a day and arrived in record time for us.
What do we say, Lord? What do we do? What should we expect to see when we arrive? All these questions went through our mind as we traveled. Grief stricken family members and close friends. The scene was just as you would expect. Sometimes it's tough to know how to respond or what words to say. We found ourselves wordless and also grief stricken at this same loss and yet we were here to minister to them. In the days that followed, we found ourselves very much like the ones who surrounded us. We were engulfed with sadness and pain and yet we were celebrating the life of one who finished well. We began to learn little things leading up to those final hours of our dear friend, Rebecca.
The church had just started a revival and the last song she played on the piano that night was "Good-bye world, good-bye!" Little did she know that the very next morning she would experience the lyrics to that very song! We learned that she had planned all the meals for the visiting evangelist and pastor who would be staying at their home. We learned of her thoughtfulness and careful preparation. We learned of encouraging words she had said to the members of the church and how she was just like a mom to so many. Most of all, she loved the Lord and loved to serve Him. The funeral was standing room only. It took four preachers to eulogize this sweet saint. It was truly a tribute.
We have had the privilege of counseling with folks who have been struggling not only in their own walk, but understanding "the why" of this loss. Grief counseling plays an important role in ministry for a missionary. Though it is never easy, we are also comforted in knowing that all things work together for the good to them that love God.
Not only does this time of sorrow affect us, but we also have had to deal with our own "life issues" in the process. We headed back to Texas the last trip for several engagements, the truck broke down in Christiansburg, VA. We had to have the truck towed and leave it in VA. We watched as God unfolded an amazing plan for us though. He quickly placed people in our path who not only assisted in the towing, but others who were able to loan us a small car to get back to Texas. We only had to shift one engagement at that time. After we had been in Texas we learned that the truck had a bad water pump and the mechanic was able to fix it in VA. When we came in to VA for the funeral of this dear friend, we were excited that we would have the truck again. We had the truck out for one day and it broke down again and even as of this writing it is still in the shop. We do not know its problems as of yet. Tim had heard from 3 pastors that perhaps the Lord was telling us not to take it back to Texas. Then we have heard several others say the same thing, even as much as last night. We agreed this morning that we felt the Lord was telling us that we should not take the truck. We are now making other arrangements and are trusting the Lord in all of it.
We have realize that God's plans are not always our plans, whether the timing of a broken down truck, or the loss of a loved one. In all these things though, we realize why like Paul, we can be tough and keep going: "If God be for us who can be against us?" Romans 8:31. In the name of Jesus we are walking by faith, trusting by faith, believing by faith and knowing that by faith God has walked before us, is walking with us and in His time will reveal exactly the plan He wants us to follow. So whether in grief or sorrow, tribulation, struggles, distress, or whatever comes along, we see the mighty hand of God as we walk this journey. Trust Him knowing that He loves us and that we can press on because nothing will separate us from Him. He is strengthening us each step of the journey and our faith is growing stronger each day. May we be tough like Rebecca and press on knowing that one day He will say "well done" as we say "good-bye world, good-bye." But until then, we will go on serving Him, wherever, whenever and doing whatever He asks.
"...we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us fromthe love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39