Posted tagged ‘Glory’

In Honor of Marie

October 20, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      October 20, 2019

                                     

I first met Marie Lyons…kinda’…at a funeral home in Mason, Michigan, the Ball-Dunn Chapel. I was there for the visitation of Harold Bickert. Harold and his wife, Mildred, were elderly members of Lansing First Baptist Church, but years before they had lived in Mason and attended Mason First Baptist Church. 

I visited with Mildred and talked to her about the funeral service for Harold that would happen the next day. In an adjoining viewing room laid the body of Robert Lyons, Marie’s brother. Mildred knew I had been talking to the pastoral search committee of the Mason church, Marie’s church. She had me go into the viewing room and sign the guest book. The visitation had already concluded and no one was still present. I felt a little awkward, signing the guest book of a departed man I had never met, but Mildred was insistent. She WANTED me to be the next pastor of her former church, and Marie Lyons was on the search committee.

About two months later I became Marie’s pastor for the next fifteen years. She was a source of strength, gentle determination, wise counsel, a listener, and a respecter of everyone’s opinions no matter how opposite they might be from what she believed. She was African-American, in a town that was almost completely Caucasian. She never married, but took on  the responsibility of being the caregiver for her brother, Buddy, who had mental limitations and was also mute. She was a school teacher, loving her elementary students as they learned. 

Marie passed away this week at the age of 86. It is one of those deaths that causes you to weep and rejoice at the same time. A faithful follower of Christ, she looked forward to her march into glory. She did not fear death, but rather saw it as the transitional step into the presence and peace of the Lord. And yet, for her friends near and far, there is a rumbling cry in our spirits. She was so valued, and valued others so, that it hurts to know she has moved on to the place she looked forward to. Quite frankly, there just aren’t that many people around these days who have such strong character and are firmly anchored to the Rock that is Christ.

The last time I saw Marie was in 2015. I had traveled back to Mason to meet with my friend and financial advisor, David Leonard. While in Mason I met with our friend, Janet Smith, and Marie at an ice cream shop in Mason and we talked for about an hour. That was four years ago almost to the day. She was getting thinner as she was traveling through her early 80’s, but she still had that same kind voice that made you feel you were important.

  There are people who you’re around for a long time and they impact your life; and then there are those folk who you’re privileged to know for a season of life that leave their handprint upon you. Marie’s handprint has stayed with me for these past 20 years since we moved from Mason.

As the Mason community remembers and celebrated her life this coming week, I shed a sweetened tear. A saint has joined up with the saints. Like a Fodor’s travel guide, the words of scripture that Marie had memorized about what Glory is and how it looks are now being seen firsthand by this just-arrived friend of Jesus. 

Dad…Two Months Gone

April 15, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    April 15, 2018

                               

Two months ago today Dad, Laurence Hubert Wolfe, passed away after a well-lived life of almost ninety years. He really wanted to break the finish-line tape of the ninety mark, but didn’t quite make it. And that was okay!

There are very few people who come to the end of their lives and are able to say “It was good! It was very good!” Dad was one of those! What made it good was the value he placed on things that are irreplaceable. He treasured his friends. When his friend Bill Ball passed away last summer it pained his soul. Bill was the last of Dad’s long-time friends, had passed the ninety mark a few years earlier, and the two of them conversed every week. Each had lost his wife around the same time and each had been married in excess of sixty years.

When Bill passed I think it hurt Dad, but it also eased the way for him. Seeing your friends, who are irreplaceable, travel on to Glory is like being afraid of entering an unfamiliar place, but then you see your friends go there and it makes it okay.

Dad had strong beliefs and convictions that he didn’t compromise. When the days remaining are few, I think that also brings a person to be able to say life was good. Remaining true to your promises and your commitments are signs of a life that is deeply-rooted, not tossed this way and that by what sounds good at the time. Steadfast and persevering, that’s how I would describe him! Gentle and fair would also be listed in the description of who he was and is.

A person never really gets used to the absence of the one who has always been there. The impact has been too deep and significant. I’m blessed in that the impact my dad left on me causes me to smile and feel blessed, as opposed to feeling oppressed and wounded.

And now two months since that Thursday afternoon when he breathed his last I still am able to experience his breath upon my life.

And it is good!

Dedicating the Granddaughter

June 22, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 June 22, 2015

                                       

I’m an emotional wreck this morning! I’m drowning my tears in my first cup of Pike Place.

Why are the tears backing up in my soul? I just saw the pictures my daughter, Kecia, posted on her Facebook page of her three-month old daughter’s, and my granddaughter’s, baby dedication yesterday in our morning worship service. I’m standing there with my fingers holding one of Corin Grace Hodges’ shoes, praying for God’s blessing upon her and her family, Corin is wide-eyed and brightly beautifully dressed, Mom and Dad have bowed heads and smiling faces, as does big brother Jesse. Big sister Reagan is standing closest to the camera with her eyes open in a way that, if you know Reagan, communicates “I wanted to be the one that said the prayer, Granddad!” (She did say it at our lunch together afterwards!)

What an incredible privilege to be able to dedicate this new gift from God!

Kecia didn’t stop with just pictures of the baby dedication, however; she also posted pictures of the “dads” of her life, including grandfathers, me, “Uncle David”, and husband Kevin. Her honoring of the guys was what put me over the falls!

How often do we stop and consider how blessed we are? Sometimes we move unconsciously through life…and then we see a picture on Facebook that hits our eyes and heart at the same time…and we sense the tears welling up inside us at the blessed place we are in.

We breathe in his blessings with deep satisfaction and contemplate the awesomeness of the One who loves us.

Corin Grace has the names of our grandmothers, her great-great grandmothers, that have long since strolled into Glory. And yet when I think of her middle name I will be reminded of the grace of God upon our lives…and here come the tears again!

Heaven’s Admission Fee

April 17, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      April 17, 2014

 

                                    

 

Perhaps Michael Bloomberg was saying it “tongue-in-cheek”, but his statement recently about his guaranteed admission into heaven attracted a lot of attention and comment.

The billionaire former New York City mayor thinks God likes him because of his generosity. He’s made a $50 million dollar contribution to help an anti-gun lobby group and fight the NRA.

“I’m telling you, if there is a God,” Bloomberg told reporter Jeremy Peters, “when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

Bloomberg must see admission to heaven as being like going through security at Denver International Airport. There’s the preferred status line…and then there’s the other line that the rest of us are in.

Special reserved seating admission to Glory is now being seen as having a price tag attached…kind of like courtside seating at a Denver Nuggets’ game…but I’m not sure why anyone would want to be that close to this year’s Nuggets team! It would look less painful from a distance…like the upper deck!

Like I said, Bloomberg could very well have made that comment in jest…like saying a White Castle hamburger tasted heavenly! No one would say that with a straight face and a happy gut!

His statement, however, voices the belief of many that heaven’s admission fee…the price of entry…can be paid by us…can be earned. Good works may admit us into an honorable humanitarian club, even get our name on a plaque mounted on the wall of a hallway, but they won’t give us a pass through the gates of paradise.

I know…I know, it doesn’t make sense! Since most of our other systems of praise and recognition operate on the principles of “how much”, “how many”, and “how often”, the gospel is a walk into the unreal.

Jesus died so I might live…we have very few people around who would give up first-class for coach, let alone die so that someone else might live!

It is easier to believe in a sum payment system than the Son of God being crucified. Thus, a former mayor, in many people’s eyes and even his own, looks like a good bet for a heavenly mansion.

From what I know about Scripture, however, I’m afraid he’s going to be disappointed. You can’t put a price tag on the atonement until you realize it’s free.

Then one realizes it’s priceless!