Most people chase after temporal riches, and though I have my own thoughts on the matter I don’t begrudge anyone their “success”. But it is a privilege to be called a friend by someone who lived his life to help others and change this world without any attempt to gain an ounce of fame, fortune, or credit apart from pleasing his Lord.
It was an honor to attend the funeral of Kebede Teshome this past Saturday. A truly great man who earned that title by the only Measure that counts.
Though we didn’t see each other as much over the last few years, I will always remember his encouragement to me during those times when I felt I was stumbling a bit out of the blocks as a new preacher. Sometimes after I finished preaching and felt drained, he would simply come up to me and give an encouraging word or a big bear hug and tell me how the Spirit spoke to him through something I had said.
Other times he would just smile at me.
For those who knew him, if he smiled at you, you believed him. I can’t think of a much higher compliment for someone in these cynical days in which we live.
On a lighter note, I will always remember playing golf with him. I never saw him laugh harder then when we attempted to play a round of golf in the pouring rain and my tee shot on the first hole hit a tree and landed right back in front of my feet. I wondered if I was going to have to let him use my asthma inhaler because he could hardly catch his breath from laughter. Remember it like it was yesterday.
If you ever left his presence discouraged then something was wrong with you. He truly exuded the love and joy of Christ. He was such a great example…..and still is. He left an incredible legacy of love.
Right after the funeral, a friend from a different circle who didn’t know I had attended a funeral, reminded me of a great song and it resonated.
“You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been. A place that has to be believed to be seen. Home. I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going Home.”
For those who knew Kebede, I think these few verses sum it up. For me anyway….
The first verse speaks to how he lived his life. The rest sum up the end of his earthly life but the beginning of an incredible journey.
Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (The guy lived this verse.)
2 Corinthians 5:8 – We are confident, I say, we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Psalm 116:15 – Precious in the sight of the Lord is the passing of his saints. Matthew 25:23a – His master said to him, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Kebede loved to sing. And just like his smile you believed every word when you heard him sing at the top of his lungs. So in closing I want to share one of my favorite hymns. It’s an old one, but only in the temporal sense.
The words will ring true for eternity…..
We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed
And our spirits shall sorrow no more
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest
In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
“Well done my good and faithful servant.” We’ll see you soon.