Today, God showed up for me somewhere I really wasn’t expecting.
I took a half day off of work today because I was supposed to be at the hospital for the birth of my best friend’s son. He was breach and they had a scheduled C-Section today at noon. She and her husband went to the doctor today before heading to the hospital and were told, “SURPRISE! He’s no longer breach! You’re surgery is cancelled now go home and wait for him to come on his own!” She, of course, had mixed emotions. Sadness that she has to wait to meet him but also happiness that she may get the chance to try labor the way she wanted to. I told her welcome to motherhood. A constant combination and change of emotion along with living life on your child’s schedule. haha.
Anyways, I had a substitute teacher coming for a half day regardless and I mean who honestly would cancel that when you could have a half day off? Not me. Not with a sick baby at home. I made a plan to come home and play with my daughter, do some housework, get some papers graded, lesson plans done, get in a workout…the possibilities were endless because…I had a half day off! Then, I called my husband.
Last Thursday, a friend of Jonathan’s family through YoungLife closed his eyes on this life and opened them in Jesus’ presence. His name was Rusty. (This is East Texas after all.) I never got the chance to meet Rusty but, I’ve heard many stories about him and the impact he’s had on the people of the little town we live in. The funeral was today at 1:00. I was supposed to be at the hospital for the grand baby birth so Jonathan was going to take Sophie with him to the funeral so some of his family’s friends could meet her. After I found out I would no longer be going to the hospital I thought I would just be at home with Sophie while Jonathan and his parents went to the funeral. I didn’t know Rusty, the baby is sick, and honestly, I had plans for my half day off!
Plans change. Jonathan expressed to me that’d he’d really like it if I went with him to the funeral. He’s pretty torn up about it. Now, obviously, I couldn’t say no to that request so, I drove to the funeral instead of my house where my plans were to take place. I thought we’d be there an hour and then I could go home to my half day bliss. I was wrong. I haven’t been so glad to be wrong in awhile.
What I sat through was almost 2 hours of one of the most wonderful celebrations of life I’ve ever attended. The huge recreation hall of the church was FULL. 700 people. Let that sink in, 700 people this funeral. There were cars lining the highway and parked in ditches. People were standing at the back and church members wheeled in more chairs. That should’ve been my first clue that God was going to move today.
The service started, as they usually do, with a recitation of his obituary and the recognition of the family. Then my father-in-law got up and sang some of his songs and a couple of cute songs from Rusty’s YoungLife days. What followed was person after person standing up to share stories and memories of his life. I was pulled into this man’s life in a way that I hadn’t expected to be. He was in love with the Lord. He walked and talked with him daily. He led countless kids to Christ through his YoungLife ministry. He was also, apparently, quite the character. Each person that got up had a different story with the same theme, this man was one who had great favor with the Lord and who was given the gift of discipleship and he used his gift to the fullest of his ability.What I thought was the most interesting was that he always wanted to die at home, alone, reflecting on all of the people that he loved. What ended up happening was, when he passed away, he had been on the phone with his nephew, gone into his house, sat in his late mother’s recliner, looked at a picture of his family, and closed his eyes. That was it.
I mean what better way for God to say,”Well done my good and faithful servant,” than to allow Rusty to enter the gates of Heaven in exactly the way he wanted to.
The service concluded in, what I think, was the sweetest way a funeral has ever ended. An elderly man had to be helped up to the microphone and he played a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace” on his harmonica. That made me tear up. Then, they played a sound clip that someone had recorded of Rusty awhile back. He was talking about his siblings and family and how much he loved them and how good the Lord was to him. It ended with him leading everyone in prayer through the sound clip.
That got me thinking, what a gift that was for his family. To hear his voice one more time. Not only that but, to hear him say such wonderful things about them. So cool. I left SO glad that I had been there.
I headed home with Sophie in the backseat after it was over and I found myself fighting back tears. Why? I didn’t know this man. I never met him. I mean I’m thankful that my husband had someone like that in his life and I’m happy for Rusty that he was given his ultimate reward last week. I think I was feeling sad for myself. Sad that I didn’t get the chance to meet him and and get to know him. Sad that my husband feels like he didn’t get enough time with him in the last couple of years as his health declined. Mostly though, I think I’m sad that right now, I don’t have that kind of relationship with the Lord. I love the Lord. I try to talk to Him during the day but, cliche as it is, I’m busy. Work, gym, home, baby, dinner, baby, dishes, baby, bath, lunch for tomorrow, baby, pick up the house, sleep, repeat. The balance just doesn’t come. How do I find the balance? How do I ‘fit in’ time for something that should be a natural and integral part of my day? I don’t have the answer to that right now. The obvious answer is to just do it. Make time. Set a priority. But how?
Pinterest and the internet are full of devotionals and Bible studying plans. I know being in The Word is the way to get closer to the Lord. Reading what He ordained to be written for me to read specifically. I guess I just need to pick a book of the Bible, open it, and just read. I think maybe I just expect to read a few passages and poof, I get some nugget of wisdom or some feeling of the Holy Spirit’s presence and then I get discouraged when that doesn’t happen. I’ve had some girlfriends that I love and trust tell me that I just need to sit and listen with expectancy and one day He’ll show me what to do or what He wants to tell me. Maybe I should do that too.
I just know that I want to leave this world better than when I entered it. I want to be a Rusty to people in my life. For there to be 700 people at my funeral that all can say the same thing about me; she loved the Lord, she loved people, she fought the good fight and impacted lives for the Kingdom. I want a stranger to come to my funeral because her husband knew me and for her to leave saying, “I’m just so sad that I didn’t get to meet her.”
Stay tuned. I think I’ll start tomorrow. Maybe a book. Maybe just a verse. If you read this, pray for me about it.