An old song written a long time ago (Josiah K. Alwood 1880), that many have sung, but my favorite version is by Don Henley (The End of the Innocence). I think of this song because the sun shines less brightly since the passing of my mother, and now the passing of my Pastor this past week. The song speaks of how there are no storm clouds in Heaven and no sorrow or tears. I know there is a huge Welcome Home party going on there, but here it is shockingly still and quiet. We are left behind to carry on without them. The heart screams “I can’t do this! I’m not equipped!” but really we are. God knows that we will be okay, he knows our sorrow is temporary and one day our joy will be eternal. We shake our fist at him and cry “Why?” and he forgives us because he knows we are grieving.
I came to know Pastor Tim last summer (2010) when he came to our house to see if he could help. My family was struggling with several issues and our former church’s pastor completely failed us as well as several others who were in need of encouragement and prayer. We didn’t ask much, as we aren’t the type to whine – when we ask for prayer it’s serious business on our part. We were neglected, and when we realized that this and more, had happened to others, we decided to quit the church. It was at that point that someone told Pastor Tim of our situation and he came to see us.
He was truly a man after God’s own heart. He had a heart for the lost, and he preached the Word. He always reminded us to measure everything we heard from the pulpit against God’s Word so that we knew for ourselves if what we heard was right or wrong. “You can’t know it if you don’t read it, and you can’t tell somebody else about Him if you don’t know Him. It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship.”
He baptized both of my boys in the short time that we have been members and I am so grateful that we have those special memories. I have an image of him being helped into rubber waders for baptisms: they covered his suit so it didn’t get wet because he always did baptisms first. I’ll never forget that. He once told us that if we just mouthed the word watermelon over and over, no one would know we didn’t know the words to the songs.
The best thing about Tim was you could talk to him about anything. He wasn’t like many other pastors who act like they grew up in a bubble and know nothing about life. If you used a line from a movie, he usually always knew what it was, and he quite often used them himself. One time when my husband was reading a passage of scripture in Sunday school class and had trouble with one of those old testament names, he quoted The Sandlot: “You’re killing me, Smalls!” Pastor Tim was just flat cool. Everybody he met liked him, and kids adored him.
Why did God take him from us? I don’t know, and by the time that I am able to get that question fully answered, it won’t matter any more. What I do know is that while he is gone from here, he is present with the Lord, and I’ll see him again. Did I need to see him in a casket in order to fully understand his death and get closure? Nope. Why are people so stuck on that? I can understand for non-believers that not accepting a death and thinking that they can truly communicate with their loved one at a grave would be cause for concern. But because I have a relationship with Christ, it’s different for me and other followers. I know where my mom, my brother, grandparents and Tim are. That body in a casket isn’t them anymore, and I know where they are. I don’t need closure. Yes I am grieving. I grieve for the time that we are separated, for the fact that I can’t ask advice or share a laugh. I was mad at first, too. I even questioned God as to how this could possibly be right. But I have joy in the sure and certain knowledge that I’ll see them again. That is why I didn’t need to make that ritualistic trek past the casket to say goodbye. He wasn’t there.