Once again a number of weeks have passed since my last blog and once again I apologise to those who do follow. I have no real excuse for taking so long to start writing again. If I wanted to I could come up with something I am sure but I don't want to start making excuses when there are none that I feel would be legitimate.
A lot has happened since my last blog, some things good, some great things and some things tragic and very sad. Knowing where to start is difficult for me because it involves sharing an experience that left me once again feeling very sad and somewhat confused. I will not go into all of the details but once again a man from my past was involved.
This time it was from my recent past. We had just finished a family BBQ and I had just sat down in the sunshine after clearing up. Suddenly a man appeared before me coming through the gate to the Manse. I did not recognise him at first because it looked as if he had not shaved for some days. The man called me by my name but he somehow sensed that I did not recognise him straight away. I am not very good remembering names but I am not bad with faces. The mans unshaven face was making it difficult for me to place him.
Suddenly it came back to me, he was one of the men who used to come in to us in the drop in centre. Approximately six years had passed since I had last spoken with him, I quickly told him that I had recognised him from the drop in centre but I could not remember his name. He told me his name and I invited him to sit down in a chair beside me. He apologised for troubling me and asked if we could talk about some things. I said sure and he began to tell me of how his life was once again in a mess, his words not mine.
As I said earlier I will not go into all the details but something that had caused him great difficulty in the past had returned and it was costing him a lot in many different ways. He asked if I could try and help him and I said I would try. He shared some recent set backs with me and how he had sought help in another place but things did not work out for him. He asked me if it would be okay for him to come to church on Sunday, Sunday being the next day. I told him that he would be very welcome but that I would not be there as I had just started two weeks holidays.
He was not sure at all that he would be made welcome If I was not going to be there so I phoned one of our senior board members there and then and told him the mans name and to look out for him on Sunday and make him feel welcome. I gave the man some advice and told him I would see him after the holidays. He assured me that he would be in church the next day but when I checked I found out that he had not come. I was disappointed because when we talked we had agreed that he had to be sincere and committed to seeking help but what he was suffering with seems to have prevented him from keeping his promise.
Three days later I received a phone call from a friend telling me that the man who had come to see me on Saturday was found dead in bed at his mothers home. I felt numb, my friend on the phone did not know that he had called to see me three days earlier. The deceased man was thirty years old and he left behind a wife and young baby as well as his mother and other family members. I could not believe that our time together on Saturday would be the last on this earth. I started to think could I have done more to help him but I chose not to fall into that pit.
On the day of his funeral some lovely tributes where given in memory of his life, someone mentioned that he was a troubled soul who had found peace and happiness for a time but tragically an addiction and illness returned and took him away from those who loved him. That was the first of four funerals that I have attended since my last blog. Two of the other three funerals where for people who had well exceeded the three score and ten, the third one was another great tragedy where a twenty one year old young man was found dead in his home by his father.
It has to be any parents worst nightmare to find their child dead. I was asked by the young mans father if I would take the funeral service and I accepted. I had never met the deceased young man and I knew that this would be a real challenge for me. I was told to expect and prepare for a very large funeral service in the church and I sincerely thank all of our people in and outside the church who did a marvelous job of setting things up.
For family reasons the waiting period for the funeral service was longer than usual and after having visited the deceased's family I had much longer than usual to prepare for the service. Right up to the day before the funeral service I could not settle on what scriptures to use or what to say in such devestating and tragic circumstances. I was on my way home from an emergency hospital visit when I checked my phone for any missed calls because my phone was on silent in the hospital. I recognised the number or another Pastor and good friend. My immediate thought was that he was phoning concerning a preaching engagement that he was doing for me as we were due to take our final holidays before the new Autumn session.
My assumption was totally wrong. This very caring and thoughtful Pastor was phoning to tell me that he was praying for me because he had heard about the funeral service I would be taking the next day and he knew that it would be very difficult for me. I had not told anyone accept God that I was really struggling for what to say at the service but God must have revealed something to my friend as he said to me that if I did not already know what I was going to say The Lord would certainly give it to me. My reply was I hope he gives it soon. That call meant more to me than I can express in words. On the way home from the hospital God gave me everything, the scriptures and the words. I thank God with all of my heart for his faithfulness to me. Later that evening I got a visit at the Manse from another Pastor and good friend, he too wanted to encourage me and pray for me. We met together 8 am on the day of the funeral for prayer.
Our small church was packed like I have never seen it in nearly forty years. There were broken hearted people everywhere. God helped not just myself but I believe many others gathered for the service of tribute and remembrance for this young mans life that ended so tragically. Amazingly and all glory to God I did not feel nervous or overwhelmed with emotion in any way. The Lord undertook and answered the prayers of many.
Some of my remarks during the service were around eternity and how the scriptures tell us that God has placed eternity in the heart of man and that we will either spend all of eternity with him or without him. Four funerals in a relatively short space of time, someday someone will say something about us at our funeral service. My prayer is that it can be said of us that we by the grace of God and salvation through Jesus will spend all of eternity in heaven with God our creator. "IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL"
I have written this blog from the very hot and sunny Portugal. I had promised myself that I was not going to do any church stuff until the end of our holidays but for some reason I felt compelled not to wait.