I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them...
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...
Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good.
(For Good - from the Broadway play Wicked)
Tomorrow night we will spend an evening remembering our dear friend and pastor, Joe Fields.
Joe was so many different things, all wrapped into one quirky package.
He was a mere boy really, and that was the best part of him. He was young enough to be my son, well, if I had him really, really young. He loved jokes and games and legos. He laughed out loud, sang off key in the hallways, left dirty dishes in the sink. He would do whatever you asked him. We would take out the garbage together. We would line up the chairs in the sanctuary together. We would go to Costco and buy tons of food and jam it into my car together. No job was too messy for Joe to enjoy with you. And just being with Joe made any job enjoyable.
I have two daughters and never longed for a son. Until I met Joe and realized what a great thing I had missed out on.
Joe was a wonderful man of God. He had incredible far-reaching wisdom for one so young. For a young man so sick, he was really the most healthy person I knew. He understood how to relate to people and he knew how important that was. He knew his Bible and how to explain it in simple terms. He knew how to talk about God to my teens, and he knew when and how to talk about their life issues too. Joe was great with teens, he was great with old people. He could keep up with Celia and I in discussion, yet do the boy thing with Jim and the youth boys. And he loved playing with his baby Ethan. His range was awesome.
Joe was a man of passion. He was passionate about God, his work, his family, his friends, and he had lots of them. He was not half way about it at all. He may have had a lot of commitments, but he was a man of commitment and integrity. He had the rare gift of knowing what he was about, knowing where he was going and knowing why he was going there. He may have not had a lot of money but he was rich beyond measure in his friendship and his peace.
Joe was a man of wisdom. One of the worst parts about me dealing with Christina being pregnant initially was that I could not tell Joe. He would have known what to tell me and her. He always had great sense about life, about people, about God.
Joe leaving has left a big hole. There is the hole of the youth pastor that we never filled. Who could replace this man? There is a hole in our office, and more than just an empty room. It seems like the staff has never been the same since. Or maybe it's just me who has never been the same...
What do you say about such things? How do you recover from such a loss? How do you go on?
Tonight Ken and I were in the Fellowship Hall watching the slide show, photos of Joe, alive and happy with all of his friends, I said, "I can't believe he's dead."
And Ken replied, "He's not. He's just not here."
Part of the trouble with trying to get my mind around what has happened is that Joe periodically would go away to the hospital, get better, and then come back to us. It is hard to believe still, that he is not just away and will soon be coming back.
But that is the definitive truth. He'd not dead. He is just not here. He is coming back.
And, as the song says, he has left a hand-print on our hearts. Us who have known Joe will never be the same. We are changed, for good. His love for Christ and his love for us has changed us.
Joe did not have any outstanding gifts, as the world would recognize. He could not play an instrument or sing. He was not an outstanding orator, or doctor or athlete. He was just a man who with all his heart and soul did good. And he cannot be stopped. Death cannot stop Joe, and he knew that. He knew that if he obeyed His Heavenly Father, not only would he live forever with Him, but his legacy would live forever too.
And it will. With us.
1 Peter 3:13-18
If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off.
Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master.
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath.
It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.