Tomorrow I will preach the funeral for a dear friend of mine. He was the definition of a selfless person. I truly appreciated all that he did, but, when I was meeting with the family on Wednesday a memory came to me suddenly and I was suddenly overcome with emotion. Let me back up a little bit: After my stroke in December, 2008 my license was revoked for obvious reasons and it took me some time and practice before I was able to drive again. I finally got my license back in February, 2009. But, shortly after I got my license back the reality of the severity of my stroke became evident: my stroke had seriously impacted the PONS area of my brain stem, and therefore, a lot of my nerves were negatively impacted. One of the nerves that was damaged was the nerve that controls my eye movements; my left eye would would twitch, at times almost uncontrollably, and that made it really difficult to drive, particularly at night. That brings me to the memory that left me so emotional. Fast forward to about 2010. I had come to Stratford (I was still Senior Pastor at New Covenant Church at the time) to preach a funeral; after the funeral I stayed to talk to some people and catch up with good friends. Finally about 6 pm or so my family and I decided to leave to drive back to Knoxville, about 120 miles away. After we left I looked in the rear view mirror and thought I recognized the car, but, there are a lot of cars that look the same so I forgot about it. When we got back to Knoxville, I pulled up to my house, and the car that had been following me pulled in behind me...Don and Sharon Peterson had followed me all the way from Stratford, 120 miles. Don, who had been a truck driver for over 30 years at the time, knew that I had trouble seeing at night so he followed me to make sure I was safe! He did that on several occassions. He did not come to Knoxville for any other reason than that he cared for me and wanted to make sure my family was safe. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "our fingerprints never fade from the lives we touch..." Don is not a person that will be highlighted on the Today show, he is not going to be memorialized with a statue somewhere, but he definitely left fingerprints that will not fade!
A few years ago I was presented with the opportunity to come back to Stratford, Iowa, to First Baptist church, as their pastor; for those of you who have followed this blog for some time, FBC in Stratford was my first pastorate. Let's just say I prayed about it as I was jumping at the opportunity. The church has a parsonage, so I could live there and not have to worry about a houe payment; and I needed to slow down, and this was a part time position (which, as a side note, allowed for me to get a greater disability from the VA than when I was working full time with St. Croix Hospice...) We love Stratford, and absolutely love the church; the people are wonderful and accepted us, again, with open arms. This was, for me, the perfect position: I get to pastor a church I LOVE, I get to do life with people I LOVE, and I have already had the opportunity to do weddings and baptism services for kids (adults now) that I have known their entire lives. IT IS GREAT. The longer I have been here,