Today, I watched my husband do something very brave. I will explain in a moment. Late in his high school career, Larry felt a call on his life to preach. He was just a kid, but some local pastors believed in him and gave him a chance to preach for them from time to time. He loved it and he was good at it, but when he graduated from high school, it just did not seem to be the right time to go to seminary. He knew that would come later, so he went to regular college like his friends and got a degree in criminal justice. He became a cop and fell in love with helping people. It would be years later before he was finally in a position where the doors opened and things fell in place for him to attend seminary. He graduated in 2005.
For several years, he was a pastor at a local church, but in time things changed and we felt led to step down from that position for this season of life. He returned to law enforcement where he has been ever since. Over the years, both while serving in ministry vocationally and since, he has performed a million weddings and probably a similar number of funerals. Some of the funerals he has performed have been for family members, some for church members and a few for complete strangers. But today he did one that I never thought I would see him do. You see, today he performed the service for his father’s funeral. Many people (including me) asked him if he really felt like he could handle doing this service. He assured all of us that he would be fine.
Larry’s dad was ill for many years, but a few weeks ago, he got very sick. Ten days later, he passed away. It was a heart-wrenching time to watch my husband walk through. Making hard decisions for a loved one is never easy. Signing your name to hospice paperwork is surreal. And preach- ing for your own daddy’s funeral is devastating, or at least it would be for me. But listening to my husband speak today about his dad was breathtaking. He told stories about his dad. There were pictures shown. People laughed, people cried. But somehow, through all the memories, my husband remained composed and spoke words of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control to describe his dad.
Brave really does not describe my sweetheart fully. Today was just a small picture of the kind of person he is. In some way, this was a final tribute, a way to honor my father-in-law. If it meant doing something uncomfortable and hard and scary, it was what he would do to bring glory to his dad one more time. Of course, his years of telling stories about his dad are far from over. Our kids are not all grown and we have years of grandparenting to come, so there will be many more times that we look at pictures and listen to stories about our beloved Jim. But today there was something terrific that took place behind that podium at the funeral home.
You see, strength comes from within sometimes. Strength comes from exercising the heart, mind and body. Strength comes from the support of friends and family. However, today I believe Larry’s strength to do his dad’s funeral came directly from God himself as so many people prayed for him. Never underestimate the power of your prayers. Without so many lifting him up today, I am afraid the service might have been a very different experience, but as it is, the power of faith and prayers got him through. We are thankful, we are grieving, but we are blessed.
(You can contact Liz by email at Lizreeves2@aol.com)