A Birthday, Wedding, & Funeral…

If you spend any amount of time with me, inevitably, you’ll hear these words: Pastoring may be many things, but it’s certainly not boring. It’s true. Shepherding is often a chaotic mix of joy and sorrow as one interacts in the lives of the different members of his flock. I love this about pastoral ministry! You never know what a day may bring forth…

Take today for instance…Yes, today was already slotted to be a busy day with sermon prep, blogging 🙂 and general administrative work. I also had two other exciting items on my to-do list: celebrate my wife’s birthday AND finalize details for my brother’s wedding next week in Florida. A birthday to celebrate and a wedding to finalize…How exciting!

But then, in the sovereignty of God, my phone buzzed me awake a little before 6am. Through tears, a precious daughter told me that her father had suddenly and unexpectedly entered into the arms of Jesus earlier this morning. Yes, as the sun was rising over the prairie, God added another item to my to-do list: prepare for the burial of a friend, fellow veteran, and loyal church member – Mr. Ron Gates.

Man alive, I’m going to miss Ron. His family knew him as a great husband and father, kids thought he looked like Santa Claus, but I’ll remember him as the man who always kept me on my toes in the ministry. Often, he would come up to me after a sermon and say, “Your message was ok. You did alright. Thank you for that.” He never laid on the compliments too thick or too light, but always just right. Indeed, I’ll miss his humility-inducing compliments and his big, big smile!

Yes, a birthday to celebrate. A wedding to finalize. And a funeral to plan. And all in one day! Again, this is the joyful sobriety of pastoral ministry. You are called upon to enter into people’s highs and lows, always reminding them that this life is not all there is, there’s an eternity that awaits us…

You know, it has been said, “Today matters because tomorrow can’t be assumed.” A birthday party, as great as it might be, points us forward to the day when there won’t be a birthday to celebrate anymore. A wedding, as exciting and momentous as it might be, points us to the inevitable finish line – “till death do us part”. Yes, it’s amazing how the very end of life (i.e., a funeral) helps us prioritize and cherish the very beginning parts of life, like births and weddings.

Ron’s sudden homegoing is yet another reminder to live life now, to laugh now, to love now, and to lead now! Why? “Because tomorrow can’t be assumed.” Certainly, for those who die in Jesus, “it is not death to die.” There’s an eternity that awaits us! But before we get to the other side, before we experience fullness of joy, before we sink our eyes into our Savior’s face, we live in the here and now…So, let’s cut the birthday cake and the wedding cake, relishing each special moment, taking it all in, realizing that the end is coming; and (I think) when we finally step into the great beyond, we’ll realize that this life really did matter, and that every little joy and every little smile was merely the prelude – a shadow – an appetizer – the precursor for something that all of our hearts yearn for – perfect satisfaction…

Ron, till we meet again, God bless you up there, I do love you, and I’ll see you when I see you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s