This past week, a senior saint passed into glory. His name was Milo Luers. Now I did not know Milo for very long. I first met him in February of 2019 when my family had come to our church to candidate for the associate pastor position I now hold. I had quoted a verse in the lesson that I had taught and Milo had recognized that I had quoted a passage out of the New King James Translation. He relayed to me that this was his favorite translation and that he appreciated my use of it. Though Milo had his preferences as we all do, I never experienced any negative feedback. In fact I never saw Milo with anything but a smile on his face. I for one can say he was nothing but a joy to be around.
Around January of 2020, Milo became somewhat of a shut-in. That winter the flu was running rampant and it was not a mild strain either. He decided to lay low for a couple months until spring came. Little did any of us know what events were about to transpire in the world at large. On March 15th 2020 we held our last church service before the main shutdowns. Like everyone else, we did not know exactly how the Covid-19 Pandemic was going to play out. Milo became a permanent shut-in at that point. As pastors, we did our best to try to shepherd our flock in those weeks that we were not meeting. Essentially, everyone became a shut-in for a short while. Once we started to come out of the lockdowns, it took a little bit for everyone to figure out the boundaries that each person was comfortable with. This caused some things to slip between the cracks that should not have.
It was probably in the fall of 2020 that I realized that Milo had fallen off my radar. I began to get updates from his family members on how he was doing. I kept telling myself that I needed to go pay him a visit. To my shame, I never seemed to make time to make that happen. The regular routines of ministry and life distracted me from connecting with this senior saint. And so the months stretched on.
In the late summer of 2021, Milo contracted Covid himself. Even in his older years everyone who knew him noted his remarkable vitality. He kept his independence far longer than most people his age. After he contracted Covid, though he recovered from the virus, he never really recovered his old strength. Soon after he moved in with his son Edwin. Now I could write paragraphs about the love, attention, and care that Edwin and his dear wife Rita gave to Milo. Suffice it to say that they were an amazing example of the way children should love and honor their parents even when they are grandparents themselves. I hope that I would be able to have a fraction of the patience to do the same for my parents when the need arrives.
I began to see less and less of Edwin and Rita as one of them always had to stay home with Milo. They would alternate Sundays and could rarely attend service together as they used to. When I would converse with them, I realized that they were exhausted from this extra burden but they never, ever complained. It was at this time that I had neglected my duty as Milo’s pastor for far to long. I went out to meet and talk with Milo who was completely bed ridden at this point. Now I will admit that I felt some awkwardness about what to talk about with this gentleman. I quickly realized though that this senior saint was facing the fight of his life. Not that he was holding on to dear life. He wasn’t. He relayed to me that he was ready to go home to be with his Lord, over and over again. I began visiting Milo every week from then on. I realized that I needed to be with him in his fight to wait patiently for the Lord’s timing. Instead of beginning the conversation with a “how are you feeling?” I would ask him about how the harvest was progressing. He was always ready to discuss his lifelong passion, farming. He told me all about how he had begun farming from a very young age. How God had blessed him and his family. I indeed would remind him of the wonderful things his children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren were doing for God. How they were faithfully attending and serving in the church.
I would always end my visit with a request. I asked Milo if I could read some Scripture with him. He would always respond with a smile and the reply; “I wish you would!” I would then switch from my normal ESV to the NKJV and read passages like Romans Chapter 8 that say that the suffering of this present time will seem like nothing compared to the glory to come. Or 1 Corinthians 15, that speak of our resurrected body. After reading to Milo, I would then say, “can I pray with you?” He would again reply; “I wish you would!” We would then go to our Father’s throne and request strength for Milo’s remaining battle, we would intercede for our church, we would pray for his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I would then leave and be reminded about eternity. I’m so thankful to have an example like Milo. He would never claim to be a perfect man. I however have a great deal of respect for the legacy he left behind in his commitment to his church, his family, and in the godly people he influenced throughout his life.
For my last visit with Milo, I decided to bring my guitar with me. Though I did not know it would be my last visit on this side of glory, I always went in with the expectation that it could be. When I interacted with Milo he was particularly weak. I could tell that he did not have long on this earth. I sang “How Great Thou Art,” and “It Is Well With My Soul.” I am told that when Milo was healthy, one of his favorite things to do was to sing the old hymns with his church family. It was hard to hold back to the tears when I sang “When I shall think, that God his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on that Cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.” How can you not be vividly reminded of the hope of the Gospel, when you sit next to a believer on their death bed? It is a powerful thing. We are so easily distracted by the busyness of life that we often forget that our only hope in life and death is Christ alone. Though Milo loved the old hymns so well, I thought I would venture to include a newer hymn and sing it to him. It is titled “Christ our hope in life and death.” If you don’t know it, I would strongly encourage you to listen to it. That song reminds us of the most important things of our faith.
After I was done singing to him, Milo responded in a faint voice that I could barely hear. He said, “you lied to us.” Confused I asked him what he meant. He said that when I candidated at the church, I had said that I didn’t have any real musical ability. I had to smile. Of course he would remember that from over two years before. I would still hold to the fact that I am not a good musician but I am thankful that I was able to use music one last time, to encourage this man with the truth of his hope and of his Savior.
Milo went home to be with the Lord this last Sunday. Even as I think about the this I am tearing up with joy to know that his prayers have been answered and his suffering is gone. He is singing again in a voice more beautiful than any on earth. And though he is gone, he left behind some of the biggest blessings in my life, in his descendants who are some of my dearest fellow workers in the ministry. May I leave a legacy as rich as what he left behind. May we all love God and teach our children to love him as well.