When I was a very young man, I heard a story from my Dad about a branch of the Toussaint Family that lived somewhere in Indiana. I didn’t learn much about Lowell and Alverta Toussaint as WWII got in the way and the sides of the family lost touch with one another. All I kew was that Lowell wanted to become a pastor and Dad tried to enlist in the Army, to no avail. He was rejected, but then drafted! Go figure.
Anyway, Lowell went on to serve in various churches in Indiana, including Southport, a south suburban area near Indianapolis. Throughout the years, their son, David, and I have become very close friends and, in fact, we have done ministry together for many years.
The first time I met this side of the family was a little surreal. Lowell and his wife, Alverta, were both very welcoming and kind to me as they invited me into a weekly lunchtime Bible study held on the north side of the city, near my office. I came to look forward to Thursdays when we would all get together and share what had happened the previous week. Then, we all gave our attention to the teacher who devoted his time to educating us on a chapter by chapter analysis of Scripture.
I really grew to cherish both Lowell and Alverta. In fact, Alverta in certain ways reminded me of what it was like to still have a mother. While my Mom had already passed away years earlier, Alverta almost treated me like a son. She made it a point to tell me that she prayed for me EVERY DAY! Yes, every day!
As Dave and I grew closer throughout the years, we did Bible studies together and I eventually became a Bible teacher myself. I actually took over the original study that I had joined years earlier when John, our esteemed teacher, finally retired. The remnant of that group still meets in our home each Thursday evening during our Bible study season that runs from June through November.
In 2007, Lowell passed away and last week, at the age of 99, Alverta joined him in heaven. I attended her funeral on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. What a blessing to have known Dave’s Mom. It was kind of him to share her with me. I could feel the love she exuded and to this moment I have never gotten over the fact that she prayed for me every day! To the best of my knowledge, I have never had anyone else in my life ever do that – ever!
All Alverta ever wanted out of life was to marry a pastor and to do the Lord’s will. Recently, she has been having trouble walking and finally got to the point where she either wanted to improve or go home to the Lord. She got her wish… I certainly feel the loss already but it is impossible to feel sad for her. She was one of the most Godly women I have ever known. Yes, I will miss her – but she is reunited with those believers who preceded her in death.
The thread that ran through her service was the idea of being face to face with others. Certainly, Alverta is achieving her life long goal of meeting Jesus face to face.
Our verse for tonight comes from the book of 1 Corinthians, written by the apostle Paul. Right after the famous chapter on love, Paul goes on to tell us that some day we shall fully know God. Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
I can’t help but be reminded of this verse whenever I think of Alverta and the time she must be having in heaven. Another cousin of my father’s and Lowell’s, Dr. Stanley Toussaint of Dallas Theological Seminary, had similar plans for his entrance to heaven. He suffered from polio and had been unable to run since he was a very young boy. He shared with me that he couldn’t wait to run with Jesus in heaven – healed of all his infirmities, just as Alverta is. He got his wish several years ago…
My encouragement this evening is that we will all, as believers, meet God face to face some day, healed from all our human frailties. My prayer is that, in the meantime, we will continue to have faith and to dream about what we will do when we finally meet Jesus face to face, just as Lowell, Alverta and Stanley have! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…