Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Letter To My Pastor

To My Beloved Pastor,
I've been a christian for a very long time. I have longed for Jesus in my life and a relationship with Him for a very long time, but I didn't really seek Him until I was a full grown adult with my first child. I found a shepherd in Cindy, and I never thought I would meet someone like her again....until I met you! Shortly after meeting you, I began to realize that you and she were very much alike....sort of like the male/female versions of each other. I had never had a real relationship with a pastor or church leader before meeting Cindy and now I had two. My grandmother was my spiritual mentor during my childhood and young adult life. Ken, when you came to lead our church; great....things happened. One of my most vivid memories of you is when my dad was very ill and dying in the hospital. This was only a few short months after you joined our church as our Lead Pastor. I had emailed you and asked you to pray for him even before we had met face to face, and you had replied that you would be praying. I remember thinking....Wow he emailed me back, and he has absolutely no idea who I am...but for some reason, without having ever met you, I knew you would be praying. As I was driving around the hospital parking lot one day looking for a spot to park, I saw you. You were walking out of the hospital. You never saw me or even told me that you had been there, but I knew that you had been there to see my dad. My dad was not able to tell me that you were there. In fact, he may not have even been conscious while you were there; but I knew you had been there to see him. I cannot express the feeling of comfort I had knowing that you had been there praying over him. Several months after my dad died, you and I had a very long that I really needed....and I learned, in that hours time that we spent together, what I had believed about God and my faith was valid. I had been confused about many things that I had been struggling with as far as God's role in the death of my father and death in general. I couldn't believe that God would cause my dad to get sick and suffer as he did because he wanted him in heaven, although I had been led to believe such things my entire life. After that hour, I knew what I had felt in my heart was true and least for me! My dad got sick due to certain circumstances....not caused by God....and although God could have chosen to heal him; for some reason HE did not. That is the question we won't know until we get to heaven, and then I wonder if that question will really matter. Sure He wanted him in heaven. He wants us all in heaven, but I don't think God causes pain and suffering to get us there. God has changed me through you and your family. My relationship with Christ is flourishing, and I feel like that has much to do with God working through you to benefit me. I am by no means a perfect christian or do I dare claim to have any answers, but I have learned many things about myself as a christian through words you have spoken....words Kenda has spoken....words your mother and father have spoken. I have learned.
I am at a loss as to what to do now....not because I don't have the love and support of a wonderful church family and faithful and wise pastors...but because I feel like we were all just getting started with you leading us. Great things were being done with God guiding us through you, and there is so much more to be done. As the minutes turn into hours and the hours into days since your death, I am remembering things you have said and done. And although it will be difficult for us all to do without you, I know we will carry on with what needs to be done....with what God has in store for us. It will be because of your leadership that we will be able to do this and your example.
There are many things I love and respect about you....the list could go on for days, but in accordance to how I think you would have wanted me to list it....I'll keep it short and to the point. After all, I heard you say many times that there are some things that are just too "wordy" for your preference.
I love that you are a genuine and authentic man who lays it out on the table. I love that you always had time to answer even my simplest or my most complex questions. I love that you loved your family and told me once how much you loved being married. I love that you didn't have all the answers and didn't pretend you did; although I thought you sure had a lot. I love that the Sunday after our SS class expressed a wish for a children's message at 9:00 (the first time many of us had met you), you had children's message in every service when there had not been before. I love that you encouraged fellowship. I loved that when I met you, you introduced yourself as "Ken in REDEEM"! I love that you would wear a purple shirt, and it would make my 4 year old very happy....even though you didn't know it....because purple is her favorite color. I love that you sent my children hand written thank you notes when they would write you letters or make you things. I love what you were doing to change our world...near and far; and that our church was focused on being the hands and feet of Jesus under your leadership. I love that you didn't worry about the details but trusted God would provide, and HE always did. I love how proud you were of your own children and how your face lit up when you talked about your grandson. I love how you emailed me once to tell me something my sweet about my daughter that I would not have known otherwise. I love the simple way you transformed whatever was in "The Box" into a meaningful message to our little ones. I love that you helped the community of our church become a family once again after being a broken body for many years. I love the admiration you had for your amazing wife and amazing mother. I love that you had a bowl of candy in your office for kids who were passing by. I love that you were compassionate and supportive of all of the children, in our church, and their ideas. I love how your voice softened when you spoke of your dad and how you had the utmost respect for him. I love that you chose to "err on the side of generosity"! I love that you know the exact day that you accepted Christ into your life. I love how you always told the acolytes "Good Job!". I love how you explained the difference in being judgemental and being discerning. I love that having your children jump into the lake while you caught them one sunny day long ago was your description of Heaven On Earth. I love how you would come to lunch with us after Bible Study not one bit bothered that you were the only male among more than a dozen women. I love that the last thing I remember you saying is that the book of Revelation is about HOPE! I love how you related many passages to "falling in love". I love how you loved us. I love how strong you were.....I only wish I was that strong!
I traded emails with you just a few short hours before you went to the ER. We scheduled a meeting for Monday, Feb. 21 at 1:30 where you were, once again, going to advise me on something. As I sit and type this now, I will be completely honest when I say....I wish we were still having that meeting today. Since that is not going to happen, I will keep that meeting on my calendar to remind me of the many things you have taught me and the many things I have learned. I will keep that meeting on my calendar to remind me that there is still lots of work to be the name of Our Savior. I will keep that meeting on my calendar to remind me of all God brought to my life through you. I will keep that meeting in my calendar to remind me....
What a glorious day for you! God will continue to be glorified in your death as He was by the way you led your life! As Cindy said...."You were all in!"
You will be dearly missed....until we meet again!
I will praise God in this storm! As hard as it is, I believe it to be very true.....grief is the price you pay for love....and the grief is worth the love.
Now I must go and "Look Up"!


Melissia said...

Beautiful, Lorie

mongamerry said...

Your words are so touching and thought provoking and it is so obvious that you knew him well. I think we all are struggling to make sense of his tragic passing and it was a comfort to me to see the words that I couldn't come up with, in words that you had found and shared. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Sue Ann Montgomery, a member of Ken's previous church, St. Andrews.

Yolanda Rose Naylor said...

Thank you for your heartfelt words of love for you Pastor. My Leader and Best Friend just went to be with the Lord. I found great comfort in what you shared.
Blessings to you!

Lorie said...

I'll be praying for you to have the peace that only God can provide.