I have attended way too many memorial services in recent years. Recently I joined family and friends to celebrate the life of Dwight Pearson. One of the ways I honor the person being remembered is by trying to take away something from their life that I can apply to my own journey. Some lives are easier to find those takeaways than others. Dwight’s life gave me a clear and important lesson to apply.
I met Dwight about fifteen years ago when my son married his daughter Holly. I knew Dwight as having a ready smile, hearty laugh, and giving heart. His story contained some regrets and bad decisions. Relationships were hurt in that season of his life. And that is where my lesson from Dwight comes in.
He spent the latter years of his life determined to repair those relationships. The testimonies of his children and friends indicated his success. Their words poignantly illustrated the redemptive power of forgiveness.
My personal takeaway from the life of Dwight Pearson? The importance of finishing strong in my family and faith journey. Most of us wish we would start, maintain, and finish strong. That is not the story for most of us. But one of the great gifts of grace we can enjoy is the ability to start in this very moment to finish strong. Whether you have 30 years or 30 days you can determine to trust God with the rest of your journey. Perhaps some consequences cannot be undone but without a doubt you can make a difference with the time you have left.
One of the ways Dwight made a real difference was through Bread Basket Ministries in Ft.Worth, Texas. This loving community is a source of emergency and supplemental groceries to senior citizens, the disabled and those going through a crisis. They also offer spiritual nourishment where people can learn about the Lord through optional Bible studies and chapel services. Dwight was an enthusiastic and faithful servant to this ministry. I was touched by the amazing diversity of people who showed up at his memorial and related stories of his giving heart. This ministry does more with less than almost any organization I have examined. All of us can give love and help to others if we are willing to get our of our comfort zones and decide to serve others.
A bonus lesson from this uplifting celebration came from a song that Dwight requested for his service. I have probably sung “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” a hundred times or more. For some reason one section of the lyrics touched my heart.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
How often do I try to take control when Jesus is asking me to lean on His strength? How often do I agonize over problems when Jesus offers peace if I trust Him with my life? The truth is that none of us get out this journey unscathed. We will have pain and trials. Jesus said that very thing capped with an amazing promise.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)
Can we trust that? If Jesus has overcome the world then we can know that whatever comes our way we are going to ultimately be okay. What a source of peace that promise is for followers of Jesus.
Trusting that promise gives me and you the courage to finish strong. My friend John Weber is also with Jesus today. His memorial service provided a lesson I have never forgotten.
“God does not call us to be spectacular. He calls us to be faithful.”
All of us can do that. And often in that humble faithfulness God can do spectacular things. I am praying that I will finish strong in the rest of my journey with my family and my faith. I pray you will trust God for that as well. Remember, it is never too late to begin that quest.