Monday, August 8, 2011

Dying – in Hebrews 11

It says "All these people were still living by faith when they died," in verse 13.

I want that. I want a lifetime of long, steady obedience in one direction.

This verse reminds me of some precious people in my life. Dwilla McIntyre who came to faith as a teenager, was baptized on her uncles farm in a horse trough. She passed away last month in her mid-nineties. She always had a smile, had a growing faith until her last days and had a huge heart for people. Her birthday was December 24th and every Christmas Eve after our church services were over … we had cake. Not for Jesus; for Dwilla. Our church family gathered around one of our precious saints and sang “Happy Birthday.”

I met Bill at my church in Frederick. I’m extremely extroverted. Bill … is not. He is a quiet, confident man; full of God and God’s Spirit. He’s been following the Lord longer than I’ve been alive. So, when Bill talked; I listened. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received as a pastor (and I get a lot!) was from Bill. I was in a dry place and struggling with calling, relationships and leadership. As I shared this with Bill, he listened and remained silent – to a point. Finally, when I ran out steam he quietly said, “John, you have to decide who you are trying to please.” Me, speechless; doesn’t happen often. But he was right and I’ve never forgotten that moment. Bill’s not dead yet (and hopefully won’t be for a long time), but he’s living by faith and will be when he dies. And he’ll touch a lot of lives before his road is finished.

My mom is in her 60’s. Being my mom has probably been one of her hardest jobs. She’s not dead yet either, but there were times when I pushed it. People always underestimate her: always to their detriment. She’s a lot stronger than she looks! She came to faith in her late 20’s. After early years in the Moravian and Methodist Churches, her faith drifted for a bit. Then when I was 8 or 9 – her life changed. She met Jesus. And from that moment to this she’s never let go of him. Almost 40 years later and she’s still living by faith. Her influence on my life and my sister’s life is immeasurable.

Everyone has an aunt that isn’t their aunt. You know what I mean; a close family friend who you end up calling “Aunt so-and-so.” My Aunt Florence died 15 years ago. When God made my Aunt Florence he left parts out. Parts like jealousy, bitterness and hate. She was one of the most Christ-like people I’ve ever known. When the ground was shaking and the world shifting under everyone’s feet, Aunt Florence was unflappable. “Who’s on the throne?” she would ask. And we knew the answer. God. God is on the throne. I still miss her.

There are so many more names. Saints who lived and are living lives of faithfulness. That’s a lofty, but good goal. To come to the end of our days “still living by faith when [we] die.”

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