Copyright June 15, 2013, by Sarah G. Pemberton
It was getting toward our bedtime last night, and my daughter was already asleep, when I saw a Facebook post that baffled me. It was a photograph of two, dear, favorite, prophetic intercessor friends from our previous church, on the “wall” of the lady in the photo (whom I rarely see any more, except on Facebook). Her post and the ensuing comments didn’t make sense – until I went to the wall of the man in the photo, and learned that his sister posted the notice on his page, dated June 8, that he had passed away the night before on June 7, 2013. I was shocked, as I realized that the baffling comments on our mutual friend’s page were her processing the grief of his loss. I cried, as I went to tell my husband the sad news. I knew Charles had suffered many long-term health issues from a rough “pre-Jesus” past, but had no idea he was that imminently close to death. I learned later today that he had a fairly sudden, recent terminal diagnosis of cancer, and that none of us really had time to process what happened.
I was especially sad to realize I had missed his funeral last Monday, because I had been taking a break from my newsfeed and other distractions for a week to seek the Lord in fasting and prayer. If I could apologize to Charles for missing his funeral, he no doubt would have said, with that huge, cheerful grin of his, “Sarah, spending time in the Lord’s Presence, you chose the better portion, so you were where I now am! Don’t feel like you missed anything!”
So this blog post is my eulogy and my funeral tribute to help me process my grief over the loss of my dear friend, as well as to share insights to communicate spiritual truths which will be universal, even to Christians who never knew my friend Charles.
I was initially struck last night, as is typically shared at Christian funerals, by the paradox of rejoicing that Charles’ years of quiet suffering were over (he never complained about anything), even though I was still deeply grieving in the midst of his triumph. I realize there is no looking forward to bumping into him somewhere. I will miss seeing his Facebook posts, which were always either edifying quotes of Scripture, prophecy, teaching, or of his own declarations of worship to the Lord. I will have to wait until Eternity to again hear that musically resonant voice, so full of the joy of the Lord. No more of his zealous prayers for Israel; no more encouraging prophetic words to his friends ringing in my ears; no more cheery hugs; no more of his passionate worship of the Savior who rescued him from a life of deep personal pain. There is no ever “getting used to” the feeling of grief and loss, no matter how many losses one faces in this lifetime. Our souls know we are made for resurrection, and it just feels wrong when a loved one is no longer available to visit.
But Charles is no doubt now dancing, laughing, and singing with the Precious Savior for whom he had lived the latter half or so of his life. I was sad, but knew that even if God had granted me faith to raise him from the dead, I had no doubt that Charles would have just hugged me goodbye, then said, “I love you, Sis! Now, let me go back to my Lord! I’ll save you a seat! It’s a great party!”
But more significantly than this typical grief process, I have begun to see a number of “dots” connect spiritually and prophetically with the timing of his death. First, I want to note that I now see a prophetic sign, even in the manner in which Charles left our previous church. (And I missed him badly at the time, when he did; but my current insight helps me to not question how the Lord may lead others, even when their choices may make no sense to me at the time.) Charles told me back then, that he felt our then-mutual pastor needed to “focus more on Christ’s second coming, because it is imminent,” while our pastor had a passion for equipping the saints with faith to get through a rough economy without fear. Both are great focal points in preaching. In hindsight, perhaps the Holy Spirit was showing Charles, Christ’s personal coming for Charles himself; and knowing in his spirit that his own time was short, he had such an urgency about his own ministry as an evangelist, to make the gospel known to as many as possible before going home to glory. I have attended several funerals in recent years of young people with an extreme urgency for the times we are living in. They did not know how brief their own evangelistic ministries would be, but Holy Spirit in them did. They lived hard and fast for Jesus in that short window of opportunity, as did Charles.
Secondly, I noted that his last Facebook post, before his sister announced his passing, had been a quote from one of my favorite prophetic teachers, Mark Chironna: “You’ve been entrusted with the ability to interpret your reality… Seeing [the past] with new eyes, leads to naming the present with new words.” Above this, Charles had written as his last FB status, “Praise the Lord Jesus Christ!” Charles had once shared his personal testimony with me, and it was one of those dramatic testimonies which gives life to Jesus’ words, “He who has been forgiven much, loves Me the most.” Charles focused very little on the failures or sins of his past, and was consumed with gratitude for the grace of God, which defined his present. This is the beautiful legacy of faith, hope, and love which I have inherited from him.
Thirdly, I noted that seven (the date of his passing) prophetically symbolizes completion or perfection in Scripture, while eight (the date his sister posted the sad news) is both death and new beginnings, or resurrection. Harvest (nine) is what follows. Tying this together, a friend from my current church shared on our church’s Facebook page, a prophetic word by Doug Addison, which was entitled “Time to Bloom.” It was about coming out of a current season of weary discouragement and sadness this month into a fresh season of fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives, beginning in July. This brings to mind Jesus’ parable, “Unless a seed falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit…” It is my desire to see Charles’ life and death bear much fruit for the coming season in the Kingdom of God.
I believe, therefore, that Charles’ passing at this time was a prophetic sign from the Lord – to me, at least – confirming the word God recently spoke through Doug Addison. I believe that it is a sign of Great Harvest being brought into God’s Kingdom, of many prodigals getting saved from very rough backgrounds. These rising saints will be so full of love and gratitude that they will be willing to spend their lives in a lifestyle of grateful worship, just as my friend Charles did, risking all for God’s Kingdom; drawing attention, not to their sordid pasts, but to their magnificent present in God’s Presence, and to their glorious future in Eternity with Him.
It is into this Promise of Divine Glory that I invite you to invest your life, as my friend did. I love you, my brother, Charles. I know your intercessory gifts for us are more perfect now than ever. I will miss that million dollar smile, and look forward to seeing you greet me one day, when my assignment here is complete.