“Be Strong and Courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
I have had a very hectic and draining couple of weeks. But I can only attempt to understand the distress, pressures and heartache that my pastor husband, Earl, has endured.
We live and minister in Charleston, SC, and I work for a company in Atlanta, GA. Last week, I was needed in Atlanta for the week, coming back to Charleston on Saturday. On Palm Sunday, Earl received a call that no one ever wants to receive. His father, who was diagnosed with lung cancer only 2 months prior, had passed away. With Holy Week ahead of him, we quickly made the arrangements to get to St. Louis on Monday morning, very early.
Upon arriving, Earl and I, his sister and brother-in-law and Earl’s mother, went to make the arrangements with the funeral home. After spending most of the day there, the decisions had been made, but then they had to find a burial plot, where further hours were spent with more decisions being made. Earl’s mother was a really strong woman that day and handled herself with pure grace. She was strong, she was courageous!
Earl’s mother made a request of Earl that I would never have been able to fulfill. She asked him to do the service for his father. Earl was grieving, Earl was trying to be the strong son. Earl was uncertain he could fulfill her request. But she insisted. Earl’s stress was intensified. How could he possibly do his own father’s service and make it as meaningful for the family as he had done for so many other families in the past? This request prompted me to remember how Earl was as a child. He wanted to be superman; he donned his cape and climbed atop the garage so he could save the world and make everything right.
Earl had to go into super pastor mode, so he went into prayer and asked God for His presence. He pastored his family; he gently and compassionately questioned them about their stories about his father. He took in the stories and on Wednesday, he took those stories and developed them into a tribute to his father that was inspiring, loving and heart- felt by each person in the chapel. He began his eulogy with a prayer that so touched me that I will never forget his request. He asked God to give him the spirit of a preacher and the heart of a grateful son. Earl stood strong, he was courageous!
God’s timing in the passing of Earl’s father was too soon for us, but oh so perfect for Him. Earl’s father suffers no more. Earl will always remember that God took Aubrey home on Palm Sunday. Earl mentioned that his father triumphantly entered Paradise on the day we celebrate Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem so long ago. Jesus came in order that we too could triumphantly enter the gates of heaven. Earl’s father lived a life full of compassion, love and gentleness the very personality of Jesus. Earl’s father lived a life of giving and helping and being there for those that came across his path. Earl’s father lived a life that most would shy away from, for Earl’s father did not live for self, but Aubrey lived for others. Aubrey lived strong, he was courageous!
Easter is now upon Earl. The day after burying his father, Earl was presenting the Maundy Thursday service to a fellowship hall full of our Charleston family. Our congregation offered him more time to stay with his mother and take care of family business. Our congregation offered a gift so very extraordinary, they gave that gift unselfishly, knowing that Holy Week was here. But in Earl’s eyes, his church family in Charleston needed him now. He needed to be back in the fellowship of his flock, helping to lead them into the Easter season, in the remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ, the most holy week of the year. He let the Lord lead him. He knew that he had to be strong and courageous for his flock. For he knows, “the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:8
May you be strong and courageous through all of life’s trials and tribulations and may you always know that the Lord will go ahead of you and will always be with you. In Christ we can be strong and courageous!
06 Apr 2012 7 Comments
in April 2012 Tags: burial, Christian, church, compassion, courageous, decisions, deuteronomy, distress, Easter, family, flock, funeral, God, heaven, Holy week, Jerusalem, Jesus, mother, palm sunday, paradise, Pastor, resurrection, service, stress, strong, superman, triumph