I received word yesterday that “Grandpa Jerry” – a dear friend and follower of Christ died. I am no stranger to the passing of people I have had the privilege of pastoring. However, today I felt a deep sense of pain and loss at the passing of this man. Maybe, it’s because of the investment he made in me. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t see him due to COVID. Whatever it is, I am sure of one thing – this man is leaving a legacy, and the best part is that Jesus is all over it!
I don’t remember where I read it or saw it, but I read once that legacy can be defined like this:
Legacy is planting seeds you’ll never get to see fully grow!
Jerry was a perfect picture of that for me, and I’m writing today not to necessarily memorialize him, but instead to encourage and spur myself and others on towards a good example. There are so many negative examples in front of us right now and finding positive examples at times feels difficult. This is my attempt at sharing the good that I saw demonstrated.
Jerry was generous.
While I know very little about Jerry’s financial standing, I do know that when we had needs around New Story, Jerry was always ready to share financially and to share encouragement. For years, he and his wife helped to supply our food pantry and brought in things to share with others. I know they also helped people in need very quietly. Generosity is one of the clearest examples of God’s extravagant grace. Generosity of spirit and speech were also greatly demonstrated by Jerry.
Over the past months of quarantine and COVID-19, Jerry called me every Sunday before he was so sick. He would talk with me about the sermon and encourage me. I’m not sure I deserved all those kind and generous words, but they were a help to me. He was generous.
Jerry was kind.
There is not a lot more to say about this because it is related to generosity. However, his kindness and gentleness was evident in the way he spoke to people. If Jerry was telling you about Jesus – he would be passionate, but he would also recognize that it was really a decision that you had to make for yourself. He wasn’t pushy or rude – but perpetually kind.
Jerry would praise the Lord when it was easy and hard.
He had a phrase that he was known for aroudn here – “Thank you Jesus and praise the Lord.” Jerry could be in deep pain while gathering for a worship service, but he would still say – “Thank you Jesus and praise the Lord I’m here!” What an example of gratefulness and contentment.
Jerry talked about and shared Jesus everywhere he could.
One word: McDonalds! Jerry and Mary had their signature place not far from their home – McDonalds. I heard so many stories over the years about times that Jerry and Mary were talking with people about Jesus in McDonalds. He had an old school McDonalds cup that apparently he got free coffee with or refills for a quarter and he would just sit there and talk to people about Jesus. The number of people who have showed up at New Story over the years because of conversations at that McDonalds is amazing! What a legacy.
Probably my favorite story about Jerry and sharing Jesus came from a different store though: COSTCO. One day, while shopping at COSTCO, Jerry and Mary ran into a woman and started talking about Jesus. Little did they know how difficult things were for this woman before they met her. From what I remember of the story, this lady began to cry and they were able to pray with her. The next morning (Sunday), she arrived at New Story and began following Jesus along with Mary and Jerry and the rest of the body! What a powerful legacy!
Jerry loved his wife.
Last, but certainly not least, Jerry loved his wife. I watched these two take care of each other and love one another. Don’t get me wrong, they would disagree with each other and bicker every now and then, but they chose to serve one another and care for one another. In our society – to stay faithful and love your spouse is a godly legacy!
So, why do I share all of this? There certainly could be more to share, however, we need good examples, my kids and your kids need good examples. Now it’s time for us to follow the footsteps of another and begin planting seeds we might not ever see grow fully in our lifetimes.