This past week a very dear friend passed away to be with the Lord. I first met this Godly man (ER) when I was still an atheist. At that time, I was moonlighting to supplement our income in a troubled economy. I was cleaning a church of all things! There I met ER. Every year he would voluntarily spend hours and hours stripping the old wax from the gymnasium floor, and then reapply a fresh new coat of wax. It was hard work, which he did without a grumble … he even did it with a smile on his face!
After I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I joined that church. I was asked to serve on the buildings and grounds committee with ER and some other gentlemen. I soon learned that ER was a true servant of God. One of his desires was that the church and property would glorify his Lord. He gladly served to help keep everything in good repair. One of his gifts was decoration … every Christmas and Easter he lovingly decorated the sanctuary.
ER was also a man of prayer. In small group prayers at Wednesday night prayer services, ER would pray with a humble, caring, compassionate heart. He didn’t use a lot of fancy words, or theological ideology … he prayed from his heart. His immediate family and his church family was always a priority to him, and he constantly brought them before the Lord. ER’s talking to God, and not at God, greatly influenced me as a new Christian.
ER was a joyful man, and he carried his emotions very near the surface. He loved to sing, not only in the choir, but occasionally sang solos for the congregation. Most times he would choke up before even starting the song. With tears in his eyes, and a quavering voice, he would say to the church, “I can’t tell you how much you all mean to me. I love you so much.” Then with a unique, deep voice he would begin to sing. Just as ER prayed from his heart, he also sang from it. He didn’t have a trained operatic voice, but he certainly had a passionate one! He made the words of the song come alive, penetrating our souls. The depth of his love for Jesus that he expressed in song always brought a lump in my throat and tears to my eyes.
ER was a hugger! What a joy to get a hug from him. Without fail he would give me and my family a heartfelt hug and say, “I really appreciate you. I love you so much!” Such simple words and action, but it never failed to encourage us. Even in the last years, when sickness and disease ravaged his health and there wasn’t the strength to give the hug, or even the recognition of who we were, the smile was still on his lips. His body was worn out, but not his love for his Creator!
Thanks ER for the Godly influence you had on my life. Your love for your Lord Jesus was an ever shining light.