"Theres never been a time when You've ever failed me, theres never been a time when You've let me down. You are faithful, Jesus, You are good - all of the time, all of the time, all of the time." ("All of the Time" Rachael Skrobot)
Three weeks ago last Friday I Facebook messaged a friend about a missions trip I was so excited about going with him on. We had talked about it before, a place he returned to often, a place he had sown love many times. But that is how he "did life", he loved. This man was one of the many God has put in my life to teach me what love really is. He didn't TEACH love he WAS LOVE, it was a part of his spiritual DNA as much as his bright blue eyes were part of his physical DNA. He radiated the love of Jesus to generations of kids. Many of whom are adults now and fondly think of the days of kid's camp, world's largest ice cream sundaes spread out in plastic conduit in the church parking lot and riding the bus to pick up kids all over our city. But most of all we ALL remember the love. You could not possibly be in his presence without feeling it. I knew he loved me and so did eveyone else that was blessed enough to call him friend.
I have dreamed of India and in my heart there was no better person to go with than the man who mentored my husband and I in children's ministry for many years, the one we traveled with doing children's outreach all over California, the one who carried such a strong anointing that miracles flowed as freely as tears. A man who counseled my own son and never gave up on him when most wrote him off. This man, was the real deal.
A few hours after our messaging, I got a message from his daughter that he was found unresponsive. Next the coma, the prayers of people from all over the world believing that he would wake up and then, this past Friday his returning Home to his First Love.
I hate it. I hate that I couldn't climb through the phone line to be with his family on the other coast. I hate that his family and friends are grieving the loss of a truly amazing man. For days I had been listening to the song above, it has been stuck in my head. It was the first thing that came into my head as I read the text of his passing and the tears burst out. He is a good, good Father and my friend is in His embrace right now - He is good all of the time, even when it doesn't feel like it.
Sunday I was supposed to preach at a friend's church, I had wanted to cancel, I was not feeling up to it, heavy hearted, but I felt the Lord remind me that Tim would want me to be doing just that - bringing the love of our Daddy God to those that need it.
I had been planning to pick up a few friends downtown that I had invited to come. I got a text asking if another friend could come as well - that he had heard I was speaking and wanted to come and support me. There are some people that God just puts on your heart, this guy is one of them. My athiest friend wanted to come to church to show his love for me - wow! (I can relate to him since I felt that way years ago as well - we had talked about how my heart was changed a few weeks ago.)
Worship started and so did his tears. I sat next to him and he said he didn't know what was wrong with him. I told him I loved him. He looked me right in the eyes and said, "I know you do Sally." It was a moment that slowed down time... "I KNOW you do Sally." Simple words that are everything. Every week, our meal is not about the food - the food meets a physical need but the love need is so much greater. Love changes everything. Love brings hope to the hopeless. Love saved me from the pit I was in and saves others from their pits as well.
He got up and went outside for a few minutes and another friend went out to talk to him. A few minutes later she tapped me and motioned for me to go up front. I really wasn't even sure what was happening at first, but they all went forward - no altar call, no message had even been spoken yet - just a few worship songs and my friend, raw and real, fell to his knees at the altar. we surrounded him praying and crying as a woman from the church came and prayed for him and asked him if he wanted Jesus. Another man came and grabbed his hands and prayed with him as I cried at His goodness.
The Word says that all heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. Yesterday morning heaven had a party because my friend's name was added to the book. It was added because of love. Because Jesus saw him as a Pearl of Great price, loved him enough to be willing to pay the price with His life. Because a man years ago loved a 7 year old boy that was so ADD he was hard to handle, that had a broken heart from a broken family, that caused trouble, but he was able to see past it all to see the treasure within him and love him with the heart of the Father and it changed that boy forever. Then it changed his hard hearted athiest mother who only came to church that day to get her boy to quit asking her to take him to church and then SHE saw the love of the Father and was forever changed. THEN it changed the heart of a wounded spirit that had given up on himself, that didn't even want his family to know that he is homeless in another state, that came to support the friend that loved him, because she had been loved years before and had never forgotten it.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you for loving my friend Tim Ditmore, so he could love my son, and me and my family so well. Thank you that he got to rejoice with all of heaven yesterday as my friend's name was added to Your book. I hope he got to be right there as that book was opened and I kinda hope he was the one that got to write his name in it... right there with all the other countless names he helped to get written there.