It's possibly because I heard news of two pastors in the community that have gone to be with Jesus or that I'm currently reading "Choosing To SEE" by Mary Beth Chapman, but this morning I woke up with several people who have passed from this earthly life and entered into eternity with Jesus. As I have laid in bed this morning people have come to mind from famous people like Dana Key from Degramo & Key to people I know on an everyday basis - Mike Hayes, Meredith Johnson, and a man named Vince (I can't remember his last name at the moment of writing this blog, but this man was a special guy in my church). I'd like to share with you the impact these people have had on me.
Mike Hayes - Mike was a man in my church that also was a preacher. When I first met Mike he was pastoring a different church and I met him through my brother Tim. Tim and I differ on certain issues and when I first met Mike I thought he, too, was like my brother in many ways, but as I got to know him. I found he was a different guy. Mike supported me in my music ministry. Being a girl who leads music in church is not something that is looked upon as "correct" in this area that I live. In fact, I think some churches around us look to Gateway as liberal sometimes. After Mike's passing, his wife Judy had told me that Mike supported me through that...knowing that now, I wish I would have spent more time getting to know him. I know he was someone who studied God's word and was able to preach it and challenge those around us. He's definitely still missed.
Meredith Johnson - Meredith went to be with the Lord earlier this year. He was the husband of my good friend Cheryl and the son of one of my Bible teachers in college. I first met Meredith when he was still married to another woman. His marriage wasn't the best and with his father's passing, things took a turn. After his divorce, he began pursuing not only Cheryl, but God as well. He was such a kind man and a man who loved to reach children with God's word. The kids in our church loved him too. When it was close to Meredith home going, Cheryl asked me a favor...to sing one of his favorite songs in the hospital "Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)." Even though I loved the song that Chris Rice wrote as a praise song to God, I had never sung this in public. I prayed the entire time over to the hospital and began singing (while crying) this beautiful song. After it was over, Cheryl asked me if I would sing it at the funeral. I was fearful of singing it after I cried the entire song, but I had many people praying for me and I DID want to do something for Meredith. The night of the funeral, I was able to sing the song through without crying. It has been recorded so if people missed it they will have to get a copy as it isn't a song that I will probably sing again unless someone asks me to for a funeral. It WAS DIFFICULT, but even through the difficult times in life God is there with us. I learned that from Meredith's life.
Vince (still can't remember his last name) came to Gateway while attending Southland Bible Institute. He was not your typical Southland student. I say that because I graduated from there and know the cookie cutter person they usually attract. Vince was a former biker guy...in fact at his memorial service there were a few friends of his that were bikers. Guys he was reaching for the cause of Christ. Vince also is remembered for his prayers during the prayer time. Pastor has mentioned on several occasions how Vince would be in prayer meeting and somewhere in his prayer he would pray "for protection over Gateway Baptist Church." Now I know I don't know what Heaven is like during this time we are on earth, but I know the verse that says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord....I think Vince is in the presence of the Lord still pleading for protection over Gateway Baptist Church. Another thing I remember about Vince was that he made good cheesecakes. It tasted amazing.
**I look back on these men's lives for just a brief time not just because I'm sad that they have gone from us, but because I'm a little jealous. I'm not from this world...I'm a christian and I believe that my home is now in Heaven. I know God has me here for a reason ... to bring honor and glory to His name, to reach out to others about Who He is ... so I think I'm still here...that means my job is not yet completed. How am I doing with bringing glory and honor to God? How am I doing with reaching out to the lost, sick, widows, children, etc? Can I be doing better??? The answer to the last question is yes...and I think we should ALWAYS strive to do better. I read through some other blogs and thoughts that challenged me to look at my life. What is my time filled with? Am I spending too much time on things that will be burned to ashes...or am I working toward things with the heavenly rewards? It's tough down here and I talk a lot about comfort zones and stepping out of them. I think God is asking those who are here still in the world to step out of our comfort zone and be here a little while longer to spread His love to others and bring honor to His name. Yes, Heaven is our comfort zone and those who have passed through are there cheering us in this life. Let's remember to continue our stepping here on earth...the race that is here before us...and bring glory and honor to Jesus!