When the news came last week that Doug had been in a bad accident on the farm, I wondered if this might be his last. The week that he survived gave us all some time, not only to pray for him and his family but to remember this simple man’s kindness, loyalty to his friends and willingness to help. Doug didn’t read much. Besides repair manuals, the only books I think he ever read were the Boy Scout manual and the Bible. All his life, Doug had struggled with learning. His slight speech impediment also made it difficult for those who were not friends to understand all he said. But at 6 AM on Sunday mornings when the church furnace didn’t come on, Doug got the call. When someone’s car broke down and they couldn’t afford to take it to the garage, he fixed it at his house. Over the thirty plus years we knew him, Doug had rewired two of our homes, and replaced most of the plumbing in one. Doug also helped take care of the farm I managed. When the pipes leaked, the irrigation wouldn’t come on or the fields needed mowing, Doug was there.
But age wasn’t kind with our friend and after a few accidents falling asleep at the wheel, heart surgery and a fire that took out his big garage, Doug was hurting. But just as always, he assured me that he could cut the fields one more year, once he got the old tractor running again and bought 100 gallons of diesel at the crazy high prices of 2022. Then came the phone call that Doug was in intensive care, with nine broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Throughout the last week we all prayed that God would work a miracle and bring him back one more time. But it was not to be. Jesus had made other arrangements for our friend. He had a schedule to keep with the almighty and a home prepared by grace that would never need the furnace serviced. There would be fields to walk through, but never mowed. There is fresh living water that doesn’t run through pipes that freeze up in winter and a place prepared at a table.
No, my friend wasn’t perfect, but he had put His faith in a Savior who was. Despite his failings, he kept hoping to get his kids pointed back in the right direction or help out any neighbor he could. I can hardly believe I can’t call him up today or send him a thank you note for whatever work he had done lately at the farm. Goodbye Doug. May the Lord watch over us both until we meet in that city where there will be no more night, neither tears nor suffering. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for letting us have such a wonderful faithful gentle friend who will be sorely missed.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 ESV
With a name like Caligiuri, you can imagine what it was like for me in school when the teachers took attendance the first day of each year. Usually, after a while they would get it right but sometimes, I just gave up and simply smiled and nodded at their mangled attempts. The great thing about Jesus is that He not only knows our name, but He also knows how to pronounce it as well as every other detail of our lives! In this time as we are passing through storms of violence, division and confusion, it is a great comfort to know that if we have given our life to Jesus and repented of our sins then God has our names written in Heaven. There, no one will ever erase it, forget it or replace it. We have an eternal place with Jesus and there is no greater joy than being His! Today’s song – When the Roll is Called Up Yonder reminds us of this time of celebration, in a toe-tapping and upbeat way that has made it one of our favorites at the nursing home. I wish I could show you more of the faces of my friends there, but with usually this is not permitted. But one day we will have the chance to all meet on the other side and the good news is that we will all be younger and better looking there!!
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:1-2 KJV
While Jesus spoke these words things might have seemed a little chaotic for the disciples. They had just finished a Passover meal at which Jesus spoke of giving them his body and His blood, told them one of them would betray Him and then washed all their dirty feet! We cannot be sure of the exact scene, but as they listened, they were probably making their way through the dark streets of Jerusalem on their way towards the Garden of Gethsemane. As they walked, they would have been passing all kinds of homes – small homes overflowing with large families – rough looking hovels where the working poor slept and candlelit mansions of the wealthy merchants and the Pharisees. Jesus turned to the worried disciples saying, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. In my Father’s house are many mansions…and I am going to prepare a place for you!”
Questions whizzed through the disciples’ minds in a mixture of hope and puzzlement. “What kind of home? – How would they get there? – When would it all happen?” That same chaotic mixture of faith and puzzlement walks through the scene every week at the nursing homes where I visit. You will see in the video a nurse passing by the camera to check someone, hear the sounds of the intercom calling for people and people moving about and yet they sing. They sing, they smile, and they believe. Their faith lifts me every week as I get the chance to share a half hour of worship with friends who I will meet one day on the other side. There we will have all our hair, nothing will hurt and no one will sit in wheelchairs. Instead, we will find out just what the mansion that Jesus has prepared will be like and we will get to live in it forever with our blessed Lord Jesus Christ!
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