Love while you can…. Vol 24
I lived in Texas for about 8 years back in the 80’s. During that time, I would come home to visit occasionally. It was easier, and most times cheaper to fly into Rochester so I would often go to church with my brother and his family. It was there I met this crazy pastor dude. We hit it off immediately. When he found out I could sing a little, he’d have me share a song and a couple of thoughts when i was in town.
When I moved to Rochester in 1988 I knew exactly where my church home was going to be. My brother and I attended this same church and served under the same pastor for 20 plus years. My pastor became one of my best friends in that time. We ministered together, prayed together, did a lot of life with each other…I was even married in his living room after we escaped my brother’s 33rd birthday party now 22 years ago. He was a man of God and he truly loved people. He loved me, and I him.
The last time I saw him was at his 60th birthday party, three years ago. I was not attending church there at the time and the circumstances of my leaving had been awkward and hurtful. We hadn’t spoken much in that time, but when he saw me in the audience that night he called me up on the platform and gave me a big hug…and told me that he loved me. In that moment all my hurt and anxiety and bitterness were gone and my friend was back. I’m still a big girl about that kind of stuff and tear up thinking about how that simple act made me feel. I was restored… forgiven.
Almost two years ago now this pastor, my friend, had an episode that left him without his memory. The doctors think it had something to do with all the stress he was under. They don’t really know what happened but his brain just did a reboot. Right after the event he didn’t remember much of anything or anyone except his wife and kids. The church scrambled to get someone to preach and lead while everyone waited to see what the outcome would be.
As it turned out, he could no longer pastor and retired. There was a long time where he didn’t remember much. And gradually things started returning, but not a lot. After a while he quietly went back to some services at church with his wife. But as people he had known and loved for years came up to him… he didn’t remember them…his wife would patiently tell him who they were and how he had known them. It was very sad and It was incredibly hard on him…but God continued to work. These days I hear that his current memory works incredibly well and that he is back at church every Sunday and has even preached…but his long term memory is still not totally back.
I have kept in touch with his family and friends since the event. But haven’t wanted to see him for fear he wouldn’t remember me.
Yesterday afternoon I spoke with his son about some motorcycle riding and asked about his dad. He said that dad was almost 95% back. I asked if it would be OK to call him and his son said he’d love to hear from me…. So I was thrilled to be dialing my friend’s number late yesterday. His wife answered and handed him the phone…and I said something jokingly that normally would have made him laugh or evoked some snarky comment…but there was silence. He handed the phone back to his wife confused…and I had to explain to her that I was just joking…I was sure he would recognize me. But he didn’t…
When she handed the phone back…the rest of the conversation was extremely awkward…and a bit surreal There was no common point of reference. It was as if I had never been a part of his life. As if I had never existed.
I had feared this. I hadn’t made an attempt to see him in the past year or so because I told myself that I wanted to remember the forgiveness and restoration… and not to look into the face of a friend and not be recognized. But here I was. He didn’t know me at all. I’m not sure it was any less painful over the phone than in person. But I am even more grateful that the last time I saw him I had the chance to forgive and be forgiven. It was a gift from God.
Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to actually go and see him face to face…I don’t right now. I’m not sure I could bear it.
Is there a lesson here? You bet. Life is short and uncertain. Things we think will never change…change overnight…sometimes into things we don’t even recognize. It can feel cruel and it’s often painful.
Is there a broken relationship in your life? A wayward child? Is there bitterness between family members? Has a friend wounded you or you them?
Love while you can…don’t let the sun go down on your anger
Love while you can…whatever was said or done can be forgiven…so forgive and accept forgiveness.
Love while you can…we are like the grass of the field…here today then… gone.
Don’t miss a chance to love. Don’t miss a chance to forgive.
Jesus didn’t…he loved and forgave spontaneously…freely.
Go and do likewise 🙂
Mark 11:25,26 – And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.