For about a year, I have been an active participant on the Church of God email list on Yahoo Groups. Most of the other participants are pastors, and quite a bit of the discussion is theological in nature. People do share prayer requests (some more than others); and when there is an opportunity to meet (such as during the North American Convention), participants are eager to meet who have never met each other face to face.
I received an email late Friday night regarding Terry Adams, an active list participant who was the pastor of the Church of God in Simpson, LA. He was nearing the end of his service there, and he and I had corresponded outside the list briefly. I had become aware of some of his potential post-retirement plans and had been thinking of him throughout the week, wondering how his plans were progressing. He died Friday evening, apparently very suddenly. I learned later that he had a massive heart attack.
No one on the list was aware that he had been facing any health conditions. He posted quite regularly and was one of the most active intercessors on the list. His most recent post had been about his community’s Thanksgiving service. There are only three churches in Simpson, and all had joined together for this service. It was to be the last such service where Terry would represent the Simpson Church of God before retiring.
I am feeling a significant emptiness; but more than that, I am struggling with my feelings about the way that I know that some people would react to some of my attachments and losses. I didn’t really “know” Terry. But I read his writing every day, and it was not like reading a book. It was interactive. I knew more about his beliefs and ideas than I do about those of some of the people who sit next to me in class. And he knew me. He knew that I had surgery on my nose. He knew that my equipment broke down. And he prayed about these things. I had no idea what his voice sounded like, whether he was fat or thin, what it felt like to shake his hand... But he was alive to me, and I experienced that life as we hashed out theology and as God answered his prayers in my life. Now he is gone, and I experience that loss.
I have known a lot of people who believe that friendships cannot be formed without a face-to-face meeting. I disagree. Those that form online are certainly enriched by the face-to-face meetings, and I am very sorry now that I was afraid to meet with the group from the list when they met during convention week. I won’t let that fear make my choices for me in the future.
I am singing in chapel this morning, using a new song that I finished writing on Saturday morning. The title is, "My Glory Will Be Revealed." The song has taken several months to write, and it is very different from most of the songs I have written up to this point in my life. Where in the past my songs have been expressions of prayer or songs about particular situations that illustrate biblical principles, this song takes several types of situations, packs them down into a single line, and then brings biblical principles to speak to the situations. It is really about immersing the listener in truth to cover situations that are extremely painful.
Finishing the song was a rather appropriate experience, especially considering what the last verse says. I think that Terry and Sarah both would have loved it. I needed this to happen, too. My own experiences this year have been very painful, and I need the same covering that I am hoping to give through the song.
When loneliness has overwhelmed you and your heart is filled with grief, My glory will be revealed. Let my Spirit give you peace and joy. I am strong when you are weak. My glory will be revealed. Put your hope in my word. You will know that I have promised. I don't abandon what I've started. My good work will be complete. My glory will be revealed.