Present with the Lord…
The Christian community lost one of it’s shining stars several days ago. Especially for those of us who live in Indiana, John Price was a giant of a man who was well known throughout the state for his strong faith, his conservative political positions and his selfless dedication to teaching the Bible, setting an example of solid Christian living for others to follow.
John lived his life helping others and was always aware of how many lives could be impacted by acts of kindness and commitment to others. When one of the seminaries I attended found itself embroiled in a frivolous lawsuit, John was right there to defend the school from the charges they were accused of. And he won… That wasn’t unusual for John. He was a highly skilled attorney who practiced for more than 40 years and was known throughout the state as a man of high moral, ethical and personal standards. Even his political foes knew that John would always take the high road. In fact, he ran, unsuccessfully, for Governor of the State of Indiana yet was humble enough to spend decades teaching the Bible, two days a week at lunch, to anyone who cared to join his weekly studies at local restaurants.
In fact, that’s how I met John. I was invited to his Bible study, held on Thursdays at a local restaurant, by my cousin – the first real Bible study I had ever attended. Now we’re talking almost 20 years ago now – before I was even thinking of attending seminary. I was mesmerized by the way John taught – a verse by verse study of one chapter of the Bible each week. It would take us quite a while to get through a book of the Bible but I really learned more than I thought possible from John’s style of teaching. I was hooked. Attending John’s study each Thursday became one of the highlights of my week.
Then, one day, John let it be known that he felt convicted by the Holy Spirit that his time teaching was to come to an end. He gave about a month’s notice and offered to transition the study to anyone who felt convicted to carry it on. Although something stirred in my heart, I knew I wasn’t qualified to lead John’s study and so, after many, many, years, it disbanded. I was crushed, but God apparently had other plans for me.
Almost 6 months later, I visited John in his office and asked for his opinion as to whether he thought that I was qualified to take over the group. I guess John had been praying about it also as he was quick to endorse my idea to re-establish the group. We made an announcement to everyone who had attended and several weeks later, we started up again. I thought it was appropriate to start with the book of Genesis – the first book of the Bible.
We changed locations from one restaurant to another closer to my office, but attendance was steady and I taught for many years – all through my seminary years. Eventually, as the group got older, I moved the study to our home on Thursday evenings. To this day, I continue to teach the remnant of the group I inherited from John. And I continue to use use the exegetical method (verse by verse study) that he used. So, in a very real way, John’s impact continues to this day.
While those of us who knew John mourn his loss, we can’t help but feel gratitude to God for his life and legacy. We also realize that he is now with his Lord in heaven. And God welcomes each of His believers personally – we know that from the writings of Paul. Also, we have Paul’s assurance that if we are absent from the body of believers then we are in the presence of God.
In fact, that is our verse for this evening. Paul tells us, in 2 Corinthians 5:6-10, “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
My encouragement this evening is that believers have God’s assurance that they will end up in heaven some day. My prayer is that you will rest in that promise of God and spend a moment imagining the joy that John must feel to finally be in the presence of his Savior. Have a wonderful day in the Lord, grace and peace…