Let me set the stage and then I will introduce you to Tom. This past weekend I was invited to fly to Milwaukee, WI to speak at a Celebration of Life for Rob Stevens, a friend who was a part of New Venture Church for the first several years of our existence. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he and his family moved back to Milwaukee to be close to family during his last years. Rob passed away a week and a half ago, just in his 40’s.
Rob’s celebration of life was held at a huge farm grounds complete with a live band, a big barbeque, roasted corn, games and lots of renewing of old acquaintances. The celebration was pulled off by Kitty, one of Rob’s lifelong friends, who just happen to be an event planner. She and rob had walked the farm and discussed his desires for the celebration day, just a few weeks before his passing.
In addition to myself speaking, Kitty and three other lifelong friends of Rob shared their memories and feelings about Rob. I must say I have never been to a celebration of life for someone who has passed quite like this, and I liked it. I really liked it. It was a unique and enjoyable experience.
My only regret was that I had to leave before it all ended due to my flight out, in order to get back to Richmond for Sunday. The “formal” part of the celebration ended at 4:50PM and I had to get on the road to the airport by 5 to catch my flight. And I hadn’t enjoyed any of the food yet. But I wasn’t going to leave empty handed. So I slipped over to the food table that had just been opened, and filled a plate for the road. If women can put their make-up on while driving I certainly could eat and drive.
I turned to slip unnoticed through the barn to the parking area when I was met by Tom. Tom was one of Rob’s best friends. Tom was one of the four that shared during the service. Tom is at a very different place in life than Rob was when he passed. Rob loved the Lord and wasn’t afraid to let anyone know. Tom only spoke of the Lord in profanity and not only isn’t a Christian, he isn’t even religious. Rob made him promise not to use any profanity in his talk, which he painfully kept.
Tom said to me, “Can I tell you what happened in Rob’s hospital room the night before he passed?” I was in a big hurry but I figured if Tom thought it was worth sharing I needed to take the time to listen. He said, “The night before Rob passed the room was just filled with visitors and Rob was highly disturbed. He was turning blue, unable to breath and clearly uncomfortable with it all. So I went out to Melissa and said, ‘What’s going on in there is not what Rob would want.’ ‘What do you mean,’ she asked.? ‘All the company, Rob is clearly disturbed by it all.’ So Melissa went in and asked all the people to vacate the room. Tom said, ‘I then went in alone. I knew Rob had a Bible somewhere, so I searched his backpack and found it. It had verses underlined throughout that were meaningful to Rob. So I just opened it and started reading underlined verses.’ “
Now you have to understand, Tom is the kind of guy that has probably not read a Bible in years, if at all. With this shocked look on his face, He said, “The most amazing thing happened. Rob calmed down immediately, his breathing stabilized and his color returned to normal. So I sat there and read the Bible for a long time to him.” Then Tom looked at me and said, “I have never experienced anything like that in my life. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.” Rob peacefully slept through the night and was able to be visited by his children the next day before he passed.
I knew the word of God was powerful. I have seen its power work in many lives. Tom just got his first taste of the power of the Word.
I smiled and nodded strong approval and understanding and then just before I begged off to head for the airport I added, “Maybe that is a sign that you need to spend more time reading God’s Word.” He just smiled and mentioned that I wasn’t the first person who had interpreted it that way.
God’s Word is supernaturally powerful.
The word of God is living and active. Hebrews 4:12