I am aware that some of you will read this over the Internet. I also know that this may not mean anything to you, given the fact that I am reporting something that happened at the Church I serve. I feel compelled, though, to tell you about a funeral.
Tim Wilson is the young man whose funeral took place yesterday. He suffered from Lou Gehrigís disease. If you know anything about that particular disease, you know how absolutely devastating it is. The person slowly becomes a prisoner in a body that loses function day by day. It is particularly tragic given that Tim was only 44 years old. As a firefighter, full honors were rendered at his service. In a small community like ours, everyone seems to know everyone else. The death of a volunteer firefighter touches the lives of all of us.
His obituary states that he is survived by his wife, Shelley, and his two daughters, Alicia and Rebeka. Here is what wasnít in the obituary. I had the honor to marry Tim and Shelley and I was there to pray with them when both girls were born. I was also with them when Tim was diagnosed and prayed with him numerous times as he valiantly fought to continue to believe the Lord in the midst of desperate circumstances. You see, Timís dad and many other relatives died from the same disease. He knew what was happening to his body and what was likely to take place as the disease progressed. Through it all he showed courage, grace and utter devotion to his wife and his girls.
At the service of a fallen firefighter they often observe a tradition that is absolutely gripping. Over the sound system they play an actual call from the dispatcher, in which the firefighterís name is called a number of times. The silence after that call is punctuated only by the sobs of those who realize that he is not there to respond. I am honored to tell you that Tim was not there to respond to that summons because he has already responded to a higher call. His creator and his savior called his name. He responded to that call in the affirmative and so the truth of the matter is that he is in fact present, present with the Lord.
I appreciate your allowing my indulgence in sharing such a local matter. I told Tim numerous times that people all over the country were praying for him. (I teach online classes for a seminary.) Many of those who prayed were pastors of congregations. His struggle touched thousands and I wanted to allow his story to touch a few more.
My report is as follows. Tim Wilson suffered with a terrible disease. He wondered often why he wasnít healed when we prayed. We donít have answers to such questions on this side of eternity. The Lord kept His promise to Tim to never leave nor forsake him. When he breathed his last breath, he got his answer from the only One who knew the "why" of it all. It remains for the rest of us to take comfort in this. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Amen.