Wednesday, January 9, 2013

going to miss you friend

One of the privileges I have is to meet people at the crossroads of death. I don't take it lightly and I consider it special to be there at their funeral.

Today, we said goodbye to a  faithful Grace Community member, Ben Reschly. He passed onto heaven this past Friday.

I always find myself asking this question as I do funeral services, "how will I be remembered?" Well today I want to honor Ben, as I did earlier in the service.

First, let me say this, Ben's wife Marge, has been a picture of what a committed wife should look like. Few people that I know have matched her faithfulness, courage, and love for her husband; as she watched this strong man's body slowly erode  away because of Alzheimer's Disease. Marge remained loyal throughout and gave up so much to love her man. God bless you Marge.

Ben was on the search committee that called me to Grace 17 years ago. I would often say if you had a problem with me blame it on Ben. He has been one of my  most loyal supporters these past 17 years, and did more behind the scenes to love on my family then most realize.

Let me share a few things. One Sunday after a morning service in our early years, he noticed that our front tires were completely worn down and quite frankly unsafe. He approached me and said he wanted me to stop by his home that week. When I arrived at his home he had purchased two new tires and put them on our vehicle. Now to a young family that was barely making it through, it was a tremendous help.

He put a rebuilt water softener in our home. He gave us our first tent to camp in. He gave us a rebuilt lawnmower to cut our grass. He wanted to give me a motorcycle for free but I asked him if I could give him a small sum of cash for it and he let me.

But the one thing that really impacted my life was when he gave this.... One Sunday after laboring hard on a vision message and expressing how God had laid a fresh vision on my heart for Grace Community, Ben did the unthinkable. Let me explain.

There are many spike moments I refer to, in the history of Grace Community that helped move us from a small church to a thriving community. I mean, we weren't always a church of 2500 people. We were longing to make a huge impact on this community and to see thousands come to now Jesus as their personal Savior. But resources, and talents seemed to keep that from happening.

I shared that I felt like we could move to a more contemporary, relevant, and life-impacting church. Anyhow, I had more vision then we had people, talent, and resources. So later that week, Ben walked into my office and said I believe in that vision. Now remember he was retired at the time, in his mid 60's, and very content. Yet, he said I think we need to reach those people you are talking about. So he reached into his pocket and counted out 6 one hundred dollar bills and handed them to me. Then he said, now go buy those drums. 

Well, I just about passed out, but before doing so I snatched the $600.00, and handed them to my associate and told him to go buy some new drums. Keep in mind, we had no drummer, no guitar player, or for that matter no one even capable of running the tech board. 

That following Sunday, on our stage set a brand new set of drums. During the service, I shared that I would like to thank the person who purchased the drums and asked them to stand. In the back of the room Ben stood to his feet, dressed in blue jeans and suspenders. Not a single person could say a thing, because he was one of them, and he spoke loudly for his generation. In a matter of 5 weeks, God provided a drummer, an electric guitar player, and an acoustic guitar player. And thus began one of the greatest movements that we have ever witnessed at Grace.

That gift directly helped us to set aside the traditions of the past and allowed us to become the church that I believed God wanted us to be. Thank you Ben, that one act helped us reach the couple thousand people that had never entered our doors up to that point. May God give you a large corner of heaven, friend. I will miss you!

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