Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Life Well Spent: More on Pete

The night before last I received emails from the sisters of my friend Pete (about whom I wrote last week) conveying details about his wake and funeral which will be held today and tomorrow. That news cemented the reality of Pete's departure more firmly in my mind and led to the further surfacing of sadness. Reading times and directions to the funeral home and church struck me further with the fact that later this week I would be standing beside my friend's casket, looking into the grieving eyes of bewildered family members and friends, and weeping with a few of the guys who years ago enjoyed each other's company at IHOP every other week. (For some reason that last line reminded me of the laughing fit we shared one morning while thinking about manly ways to order a particular specialty breakfast -- "Yes, I'll have the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity.......and a beer.")

Along with the funeral information, one of Pete's sisters sent excerpts from an email he had written a friend a few days before he died. The recipient had forwarded it to Pete's sister to comfort her with the knowledge that Pete's last days were filled with the joy of the Lord and that he had no regrets about his choice of a more meager existence in Belize. I was greatly consoled by his words as well and with her permission, I share them with you:

I am right where God wants me to be... That is worth more than all the money, air conditioning and conveniences you could dream of.
. . .

This has been so hard, but God is pulling me in more and more. And when it says that His lovingkindness is better than life I know that it is true.
. . .

We have so much....So much in the States. Don't take your eyes off Him. This thing here has been so hard, but God rewards me over and over and over with His presence and love. Those are better than all the treasures of the world. I don't think I would have this intimacy with Him if I had stayed in the States.
Pete's words remind me of those of another brother who was slain in the course of heeding Christ's call, Jim Elliot: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." The testimony of both men confront me with the disturbing question of how willing I am to loosen my grip on comforts and luxuries I've convinced myself are necessities for the sake of experiencing the superior joy of knowing Christ. It's a question of whether I trust that God is better than the greatest temporal pleasures I know. Everything comes back to the issue of God's goodness and our willingness to entrust ourselves to Him. One of our greatest weapons against sin and temptation is the conviction that God is good, that He is for us, and that the ways in which He calls us to walk, while not without sorrow, are paths of true liberty and joy. Calvin stated it well:

Never would Adam have dared to show any repugnance to the command of God if he had not been incredulous as to his word. The strongest curb to keep all his affections under due restraint, would have been the belief that nothing was better than to cultivate righteousness by obeying the commands of God, and that the highest possible felicity was to be loved by him (Institutes of the Christian Religion, II.1.4).
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

Mary Ann also sent a link to a tribute page created by some of Pete's students at Belize Christian Academy. Their verbal and facial expressions bear witness to the beautiful power of a life yielded to Christ.

1 comment:

dconnery2 said...

I did not know your friend, Pete, but it sounds as though he finished well, a good and faithful servant.