What an eventful week! A life lost, a dream revived, a new friend made.
Death is never a pleasant thing, especially when it is a loved one. And even though we buried the oldest living patriarch of our family, his death was the catalyst for the revival of dreams, the planting of hope, and new connections in Christ.
In memory of Rodgers Ellsworth Slick who fought the good fight and finished the race and who has received the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.
Things his obituary did not say:
-found Christ at a young age through his mother who was converted as a result of the Asuza St. revival.
-traveled in a gospel band as a teenager to campmeetings all over the U.S. There was no instrument that Pap could not play.
-had a voice like a fog horn
-played softball with his grandchildren and great grand children every Memorial Day up until the age of 93.
-Had a laugh that was contagious
-was in more Holy Ghost meetings than we could ever count, and oh, the stories he would tell us.
-left an incredible spiritual heritage to his his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren
-will be sorely missed
The call came on Tuesday informing us that he had only a day or two to live and he desired to see his grandson one more time. We hurried to his side. He was too weak to speak but was able to communicate that he was disappointed that we didn't bring our children. (We wanted them to remember him the way they were most familiar with, not wracked with pain, unable to speak, and wasting away). And he motioned that he was ready and wanting to go home and be with Christ.
The Bible tells us that we do not mourn as the world mourns and the time we spent in a drenching rain, protected by a funeral tent over the the graveside was evidence enough of that. Tears of sentiment were shed, laughter over times shared together and the fact that after 15 years of discussion, arguing, and research, we will never discover who "JOE" is. The most poignant moment came as we surveyed the graveyard with it's bright flowers and rows of tombstones. We do not know many buried at that site, but we knew that someday there will be a great disturbance there as four graves, laying side by side, will burst open at that great sounding of the trumpet and four members of the Slick family will suddenly be changed, in the twinkling of an eye and their bodies will not be found! What comfort it brought to us all as we pictured it in our mind's eye. We could truly say, Oh grave, where is thy victory, oh death where is thy sting?
Good times were had as "the cousins" were all reunited for some silliness. Good food-I can't remember that I have ever eaten so much fried chicken. As our ancestors were discussed, we learned more about where we had come from as a family, more about our spiritual heritage, more about each other.
Sunday services were filled with preaching of a Pentecostal message, just the basics, but very encouraging and refreshing! The preacher, a visiting evangelist/missionary/church planter who had been scheduled months before. His words and prayers brought renewed vision, the revival of hope deferred, and confirmation to prayers that we have been praying as a couple for many years now. Although a stranger to us, he brought us a word that could only have been from God.
And finally, a new friend made. The preacher, a kindred spirit. What good fellowship we enjoyed! A new relationship has been initiated. We look forward to see what God will do in it. It's so refreshing to meet an evangelist that is not evangelastic (stretches the truth)!
So even though the occasion that brought us together was sad, God made all grace abound to us and brought the renewed sense of His promise that death is not the end, it is just a transition into an eternal form of life. We were again reminded of the life that was brought through the death of Jesus Christ and it was cause for rejoicing. (We all voted and decided that we are holding out for the rapture, something that Pap had so longed to experience himself.) And we experienced that even in death, life and hope can spring forth anew in our hearts and lives. The promises of Christ are truly a tangible substance that sustain, comfort, renew, revive, and give us hope through anything that we experience in life, even the death of a loved one.