Jump Start # 2971
Joshua 1:2 “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.”
What a straight forward and even blunt announcement God delivers, “Moses is dead.” I think Joshua knew it was coming, because Moses had laid his hands upon him and it was understood that Joshua was going to be the next leader, but still, it had to be shocking to him. Moses died and God buried him. There was a period of mourning for one month. That month passed and now it was time to get about the business that God wanted them to do.
This verse is swirling around my mind today as yet another friend, another fellow preacher, another hero has passed. Three wonderful preachers that I knew and loved have gone through that door of death this year. A historian and scholar, Ed Harrell, who opened my eyes to the love of church history. A master preacher, Dee Bowman, who I learned the art of preaching and communication from. And, now, yet another, Gerry Sandusky, who would tell you that he doesn’t belong in the same lists with the other two, has passed. Gerry was a simple man who loved people and the Lord. The Bible tells us about Moses that when he died his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated. That’s Gerry. Tirelessly working to the very end, preaching his heart out to anyone who would listen, Gerry was a hero in my book.
And, as I think about these three wonderful preachers several reminders come to my mind.
First, as with Moses, the nation of God move on. The kingdom is larger than any of us. It didn’t stop when Moses died. Joshua took over. Later there would be other heroes like David, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, Ezra, John the baptizer, all pointing towards God’s divine son, Jesus Christ.
Historically, this year is turning out much like 1940. In that year, several well known preachers passed away. Many today would not recognize their names, but we stand upon the wonderful work that they did. They served their generation well and lived and taught the word of God the best that they could. So, it is now. The amazing work that Ed, Dee and Gerry have done continues on in the lives of those who were influenced by them. But the kingdom won’t be crippled without them here. It won’t be crippled without us here. We do our part. We pour our hearts into God’s work and then the Lord calls us home.
Second, the torch was passed from Moses to Joshua. Joshua wasn’t Moses. He would do things the best he could, but it would have his touch, not Moses’. After 1940, came the next generation of preachers. They took on the role of teaching, writing and helping others. Now, some of our current leaders are handing us the torch. It’s our turn to step up and carry on. We will not be Ed, Dee, nor Gerry. We’ll work the kingdom with our own touch. But the work isn’t done. After a period of mourning, God told Joshua, let’s go. They were marching onward. The promise land was ahead of them. And, thus it is for us. There is a new generation that must be taught the ways of the Lord. There are battles to be fought against error, virtual church syndrome, selfishness and sin. The work is great and the need for people to step up is there. Some of my dearest friends are preachers of my generation. Too many to list, I love them all. They are spread out all over the place doing good. Some are engaged in overseas work. Some are working with elders throughout the land to open their eyes to shepherding. Some are working with young men who want to preach. Some are working in small places. Some are in large cities. They recognize that our heroes are passing through the door one by one. Keeping the ship of Zion pointed in the right direction is a heavy task, but it can be done through continual preaching and teaching of God’s incredible word.
Third, the day will come when it will be my generation’s time to pass through that door to the other side. Time is slipping by quickly and there is so much to be done. One of the most important things is preparing those who follow to carry on faithfully and courageously. There is a treasure that has been handed to us, it is the honor of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must handle that carefully and soon pass that on to those behind us. It is like watching a flag being folded at a military funeral. There is such care and respect that is shown. And, in a solemn fashion, that flag that was draped over the casket of a long ago soldier is now carefully handed to the family of that deceased person. In many ways, this is what I see taking place now. Ed, Dee and Gerry have folded that wonderful Gospel that they loved and taught so well for decades. They have turned and handed it to us. And now, we must take that Gospel, spread it worldwide and when our time comes, we must carefully hand it to those who follow.
Heroes in the Gospel. Lovers of truth. Seekers of Heaven. We’ve got something in common with those kind of people. These are our people. They are loved for the wonderful work that they have done. They are friends. They are in many ways what we wish we were. And, now that they are safely home. It’s our time to keep marching toward that promise land, driving out the enemies and keeping the people of God safe. We hold to the promises of God. We long to see our heroes again in that Heavenly home.
Thank you, Lord, for allowing our lives to intersect with these spiritual giants. May we now have the courage to travel boldly and pick up the work that you would have us to do.
We have been blessed.