I again refer to a personal experience in this post about Jesus’s Lordship as essential to our Christian life.
The second faith formative event that occurred to me just before graduation from seminary was my father’s death. We all have favorite verses of Scripture. I have several different passages that have become my favorites through various experiences I have had in life.
One day in January 1987, part of my mental, physical support system in this world collapsed when I received a phone call from my mother. It included just two words—”He’s gone!” But what an impact those two words had on me. She was telling me that my father had just died.
Mom and Dad’s Engagement Picture (1951)
I was in my senior year of seminary anticipating my Dad being at my graduation in four months’ time. My Dad had never been an emotionally-oriented, touchy-feely sort of person. I do not remember his telling me that he loved me. (I’m sure he did. I just do not recall it.) However, one of the closest expressions of his love for me was his last words to me before we left Greenville, SC for Seminary in Jackson, MS. We were getting into the U-Haul which held our few worldly possessions. “Son,” Dad said, “Remember that you always have a home here.”
With his death that safety-net vanished. He would not be able to provide a home for me and my family if a pastoral call was not forthcoming after graduation. In fact, I would likely have to provide one for my mother if the need should arise. So much for earthly props!
I flew home for the funeral and found a rare 18 inches of snow covering the ground in Greenville. I had to be retrieved from the airport by church members with a jeep. My world inside my head was as cold as the earth around me.
After a tearful meeting with my Mother and my two siblings, and a quick meal, we all retreated to different rooms in the tri-level family home. I withdrew to the den and sat in Dad’s chair. Beside it I found his Bible. I had no outward security in my future earthly prospects. They were nonexistent. Could I find any security in God’s Word? I took up his Bible and prayed to God that he would give me a passage that would hold me in the days to come.
I found my way to Romans 14:7-9. God quickened the 9th verse and applied it to my chaotic mind at the time.
9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
That was the comfort I needed! Jesus rules the sphere of the dead and the sphere of the living! My Dad was safe in the keeping of Jesus in the world of the dead. He is where Christ is! And, Christ is Lord where I am in the world of the living. “I would be all right,” God said to me through that passage.
Over the next few months, I meditated on the surrounding context of that verse, developed a sermon which I preached, and received more comfort from God in my uncertainty.
Lord of the Living and the Dead,
I often feel as if I have nothing to lean on.
The economy rises and falls and
Often my income remains the same.
I have learned to lean on You.
Little with You is a lot!
My deceased loved-ones are safe in Your keeping.
While I await joining them,
I’m just fine in Your loving care, too.
I claim Your grace for today’s needs,
And I know it will be enough.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved