I found myself profoundly sad this past Sunday and into yesterday. Sometimes even what should have been expected can take us by surprise.
Two years ago we were attending a church here in town. During that time a friend from our previous church fellowship fell seriously ill. His body was ravaged by pancreatitis and he spent six months in the hospital fighting for his life. There were many tears shed and countless prayers uttered on his behalf, and because He is a God of miracles, our friend Doug lived another year and ten months before succumbing to cancer this past Saturday.
He wasn't the pastor or assistant pastor, but Doug was, in so many ways ,the heartbeat of Calvary Chapel Webster. He was the kind of guy who always had a hug and word of encouragement, and he never failed to be ready and willing to pray with anyone in need. He loved to prepare and serve meals, to work in the church cafe and coffee shop, and love on people. The last time I saw him, he motioned for me to come closer. I thought he was going to ask a question or tell me something, but instead he wrapped me in one of those Doug Hugs. He wasn't afraid to let any of us know we were loved.
This weekend is the adult retreat at The Castle in Franklin, Pennsylvania, the place where Doug so loved to serve. We won't be there this year, but we were last October. I remember being relieved to have him there, tired though he was, doing what he loved so much, working in the kitchen and blessing the socks off the rest of us.
His suffering has ended, but his passing leaves a gigantic hole. I pray that those of us who are left behind this time around will learn from his example, and if each of us can love even one other person like Doug loved all of us, the world will be a better place.
I'm still feeling a little teary, but then again, tomorrow will mark the seventh anniversary of my dad's passing too. It's just a little harder this year than some of the past ones...