For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
I am so excited to be God’s handiwork. I grew up knowing that I was God’s handiwork, and not just me but everyone around me. Growing up in Southern California wasn’t always easy but for me it was perfect, or as perfect as it could be. I had two parents that loved me, aunts and uncles, grandparents all close by that wanted to be a part of my life as well as my sister’s and brother’s. I grew up knowing that I played a part in my family. We worked with each other, played with the kids in our neighborhood, had family get together and went to a church that taught us to love and help those around us. I didn’t know what it meant to be prideful in my home or church. Humbleness was inadvertently taught by how we acted and cared for each other.
Yesterday I received the very sad news that a person I highly respect passed away. This man was a pillar of his community, he worked on major projects and even helped his city he lived in win great awards for the changes that were implemented to help make the area safer. He urged the church to get involved in lives of the people that lived in and around the building. He was a great pastor who lead our church and helped in growing the congregation. He worked with the new pastors, he guided and he encouraged them. The best thing about this wonderful man…….he was humble. He cared for the kids that came to the church, for the families, and for the elderly. My favorite memory was walking to church with my family, passing his home and having him make sure to stop what he was doing say hi and give each of us kids a candy from his pocket. He was very involved in the church and he made sure to encourage people as he passed them.
Harold and his wife had five sons, some of them became pastors, one is the senior pastor now at Emmanuel. This one family changed so many lives, not because of the words that came out of their mouths but because of the actions they did. One of Harold’s sons Ken married my husband and I. Other sons moved to pastor other churches. Some of his grandchildren are pastors, others play major league sports. Because of the love and humbleness that was taught to the congregation people set aside themselves and their selfishness to work with teens, college students. Basketball tournaments were set up around the city for outreach, and the pastors would go and play alongside gang members and people who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable at a church.
when I moved away from the influence this church had, I missed the humble nature. I missed hearing the messages and even at times when I felt homesick I would listen to live streams that were available. When I went to work with teens at a youth group, I wanted them to help others and be an influence in the community that was good and powerful. Powerful only if it was my God’s grace, and flowing with humbleness. If we do things for others to notice we have our reward, if we do things because we are called to do them we won’t need others to notice.
Pastor Harold’s celebration of life, I imagine will shut down a large part of the city in which the church is located. I know people with fly in from other states, and that there will be a lot of tears. I know that there will be laughter and joy too. Pastor Harold ran the good race. He lived out 2 Timothy 4:6-8:
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.