September 24, 2016

Andy and Heaven

1 Peter 4:12-19

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you. . . .

—  1 Peter 4:12

Our fellow church member Andy had brain cancer. Ron and Andy had become Christian friends, and this illness knocked Ron off his feet.

This was Andy: About a year ­after I was called to serve another church far away, Andy and his friend Dick came to visit. Andy had heard there was good fishing in the local streams, so we went fishing. My plan was to fish from the shore, but Andy looked at me with joyful abandon and walked fully clothed into the river, splashing upstream like a child.

Andy also had a guitar collection. That weekend he played one of them for the church I was now serving. Afterward he handed it to me and asked me to care for it till the next time he came, even though we both knew there wouldn’t be a “next time.”

Four months later, I was on a plane to do Andy’s funeral. He hadn’t died alone; Dick had gone to visit him every day to care for him.

Ron picked me up at the airport and dissolved in tears. He drove me to his house, which had now become their headquarters of love and grief. The remains of our small church was gathered in his living room.

There we all learned about suffering. And it was worthwhile, because it was suffused with joy, love, and Christ. There is no choosing: it all comes in one package.

Lord, walk with us through times of suffering. We do not want to go through those times without you. Christ, meet us in these times of need. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Keith Mannes

Keith Mannes serves as pastor at Highland Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan. Keith and his wife, Alicia, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary,
and they are thankful for their three children—Eben, Charis, and Breanna.

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