The Facebook post asked folks to write their pastor’s name in the comments section as a way of honoring them. A long list of names followed.
I noticed a name. It was simple. Four letters made up the first name and eight the last. The simple name may have meant nothing to the world, but it meant the world to someone. Someone had been remembered…not forgotten.
I recognized the person who had placed the twelve simple letters in the comments section. It was a long time ago, but once upon a time we were friends. I hadn’t seen him in over a decade. I didn’t know if we were still friends. I thought perhaps, well, actually I thought, probably, I’d be the last person, he’d call a friend.
I still remember the day we met. The first words I ever spoke to him were, “God hasn’t forgotten you.”
I was in town to start a church. I had no idea what I was doing. The church came together by the grace of God, and just when I was realizing my dreams, my life came undone…and I walked away. I can’t forgive myself for this—how could anyone?
But there it was. His name in blue next to another name, the name of someone he wanted to honor.
The twelve little black letters stood out like a beacon amidst an ocean of letters swirling and swimming around the screen. I wondered why. I wondered how. I thought perhaps it was a mistake, or worse…a joke.
I tasted the trace of wet and salt.
I swallowed regret and sorrow.
My past, like a dagger pierced.
How could he place my name there, in that spot?
A spot reserved for honor.
Lord, was he trying to be funny? Or mock? I hope not, but if so, it’s something I deserve… and more.
A captain abandoning his ship should be banished never to sail again, unless of course it’s to taste the sea one more time…by walking the plank.
And so deserve I, for such as I have done.
But it was a long time ago. What’s done is done.
I just can’t let it go. I can forgive everyone, anyone, but me. No, not me.
Isn’t Christ blood for everyone? Are you so great a sinner that His blood won’t reach far enough or deep enough to cover? Surely you can’t say He died for everyone but you.
Oh, what a wretched man am I, who shall deliver me from this body of death?
Jesus Christ, that’s who. And it is already done.
I looked again, and it was still there. My name in the place where it shouldn’t be…the place reserved to honor.
I worked up my nerve, and left two words, in a message to my friend. “...not forgotten”
“Nope” came the quick reply. I could almost hear his Texas drawl as I read the word.
I couldn’t figure out what to say next, until finally I simply wrote, “pastor?”
His reply came back almost as soon as my question was sent. “You can never repent the call, even if you're not in the pulpit you are ministering in another way....”
Suddenly I stopped thinking of me, and thought about him. I remembered how he filled in to preach. How he stepped up and gave his all to the work of the ministry…I wondered if he too, in his own way, had walked away. “Who are we talking about here?” I replied.
“I guess us.... Lol”
And that was that.
Although his words were light and few, he helped remove a weight I’d carried far too long.
There must be, I think, a special place in heaven for those few quiet souls who plant seeds of encouragement into someone’s Garden of Gethsemane.
And I pray that the day my friend typed my name on a Facebook page, his name was written on an Encouragers Crown waiting for him in heaven some day.
And one thing I know for sure and certain, neither you, nor I, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)and no matter who we are, what we’ve done or where we’ve been we are…not forgotten.
This post is a part of a series of stories shared over at The High Calling. This week you will find a community of wordsmiths sharing stories of living out faith in the line of fire.