What I might have said

There is a quote from Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss....

What about the older woman in your hometown church who always made a point of speaking to you when you were growing up, and who still causes you to feel like it makes her day when you're back for a visit and she gets to see you?

Sure enough, her funeral will roll around one day and- if you're able to go- you'll sign the book and stand with the floral arrangements, swapping stories with the survivors and recalling what this person meant to your life. But how much sweeter would it be to feel their hand in yours, pat them gently on the back, and watch their eyes light up as you tell them face-to-face what their life has meant to you?

I have been a believer most of my life, and sometimes I think all that means is our process of sanctification is slower. I went through youth hardly resembling a follower of Christ. Through that tough journey the Lord used several Godly, selfless adults to help me along. How thankful I am to Him for saving me, and for keeping me. And for using men and women devoted to Him to help me know Him more. Our God is great.

Nancy calls us to track these people down and to thank them for their faithfulness. It's kind of sad, but sometimes it takes a blow to the head for me to apply things I real to my life. This week I lost one of those men who invested so much into me when I was younger. I didn't get a chance to thank him, to tell him what his life has meant to me and literally thousands of other youth and adults. His name was Charles Collins and he was my youth choir director at my church growing up. He fought a long battle with pancreatic cancer and went home to his Savior this week. I won't be able to attend the funeral this weekend, but I keep thinking of where the Lord has brought me, of affections I have for Him, and I have to admit that many of them are rooted in that youth choir.

So, here are some things I might have said to Brother Charles had I seen him face to face. {please excuse the bullet format, I work better in lists}

  • Thank you for serving with the most thankless, frustrating group of people imaginable, teenagers. Week in and week out for decades. You're faithfulness is astounding. I know now that it wasn't first and foremost a love for us, but a love for God and a commitment to His calling for your life.
  • Thank you for instilling in me a love for singing praises to Jesus.
  • Thank you for demonstrating humility and for helping me to instill that quality in my life. I can still hear us singing "Hallelujah Amen" in McDonald's around the country while wearing matching sea-foam green t-shirts . I was highly annoyed by it at the time, but you knew what was important, spreading the Gospel and the love of Christ. I cherish those memories today.
  • Thank you for introducing me to missions. Thank you for making choir tours first of all work for Jesus, and second of all fun. That taught me so much about being selfless and meeting people in their place of need. It was truly life-changing.
  • Thank you for not letting me get away with being rude to you and other adults. Thank you for calling my mom when you caught me skipping church. Thank you for caring.

There are few men like Brother Charles. I am rejoicing as he is now with his love after faithfully serving for his whole life.

One lesson I hope to retain from this loss is to not delay, but to thank those who have impacted my life in such profound ways. I have a list going and stationary on my desk... now to do it. Do you have anyone in your life you need to thank? Go do it!