This evening I heard that an elderly man in our church died last week. I have shed actual tears, not something I do that much.
It’s partly because I have had a really hard week. Meeting two of my sisters for drinks on Wednesday was an exhausting and demoralising process. So I’m pretty vulnerable right now. But actually, it’s down to the man himself too.
When I was nearly 18 my parents started taking us to a large church in our nearest city. Mostly because the American organisation ‘in authority ‘ over my parents said we needed to go, though forewarned against assimilating into ‘the church’. They picked this one because it was least likely to have anyone in it who used to go to their Jewish church thing.
I was a lonely, hurting, questioning, awkward teenage girl who wanted so desperately to find friends and fit in, but was torn with doubts about God, church, family and … well, everything.
One Sunday evening at the youth group I doggedly persisted in attending, even though I often felt like the outsider, they had in a guest speaker – a gentleman who must have been in his 80s, Don Maxwell. He was asked questions about his life, his faith and why he had kept on believing all these years.
After the official session, the youth leader brought Don over and introduced us. Ever since I had started going to the youth group my name had been on a list of young people to be prayed for. Don Maxwell had been praying for me Every. Single. Day. He’d never met me, didn’t know a thing about me except my name, but had been praying for me every day, and now he wanted to meet me.
My mind was completely blown. I was overwhelmed that someone had been so faithfully remembering me, even though they’d never met me!
Maybe you can appreciate how, coming from a large family, with high standards, strict rules and conditional love, this was revolutionary.
And now I hear he died. My heart is feeling broken.