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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

more than cookies, pt. 2

I was looking at some favorite posts and this one from 2009 is worth sharing again! 
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[continued from yesterday...]

Highlight #2 - Monday, March 16 (2009)

The next day we had a memorial service for Larry Wilson, the husband and father of some long-term church members. Though I had Larry a few times over the years, I really "met" him for the first time last October when I went to the hospital to pray with him. He was dying of liver failure related to alcoholism. In order to get a liver transplant, he was required to be clean and sober for six months, and attend regular AA meetings the whole time. Larry's story is a long and amazing one - too long for this space. But the short of it is that he turned to God in the process, asked me to baptize him, and started coming to church (when he could get up). His health continued to vary wildly, but spiritually he grew steadily and strongly. As part of AA and in conjunction with his new faith, he began making amends to family and friends he had wronged. I shared in the memorial service that after seeing God deliver him from near death several times during the six months, I was sure that he was going to make it and have an amazing story to tell. He did all that was required, but in the end was denied a transplant.

I talked about the story of Jesus healing the paralytic, when he said, "Which is easier - to forgive sin or to tell him to be healed, rise, and walk?" In the end I recognized that while healing Larry would have made a spectacular testimony, God had already done the real and harder miracle - transforming this man into a faith-filled child of God. His family said that the last six months (much of which was in and out of ICU) was the best six months of their relationship with him. He became a new husband and father, and their testifying to that was amazing.

The memorial service was not unlike the previous day - it was packed with people who weren't church "regulars." There was a big group from church - because they knew the family so well. There was a big group from Larry's golf club, where he spent so much time. And there was a group from his AA meetings. Those who spoke represented all these groups. And their testimony of what God did in Larry was amazing. The service music was unorthodox... Larry's son's best friend - a 13 yr. old singer/songwriter (see related post) sang two original songs to start and end the service. She also covered a Lynyrd Skynyrd song called "Simple Man" that fit well into the story from Luke 12:16ff that Larry had marked in his Bible. And we had a trio from church do a bluegrass arrangement of "I'll Fly Away" as the congregational hymn.

Kind of like the Girl Scout Sunday service, it was a wild and out-of-the-ordinary service... and it was GLORIOUS. Jesus and joy were all over it, in stories and language that made sense to everyone present.


God is alive and well and moving in the world. If we churched folks can get up and get out and follow God's searchlight mission in the world, we may just get to see some amazing things and be a part of what God is doing. Last Sunday and Monday, I got a peek!

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