I found out this morning via a post on Facebook that a good friend has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. While this diagnosis by itself is not necessarily a shocking thing, the fact that my friend is 42 years old is. His heart is operating at 15% capacity currently and, most likely, somewhere in the future a heart transplant will be necessary. News of this type invariably takes me back to one who was a very important person in my life in the shaping of me as a pastor – Rev. Dr. Fred Moore. And, invariably as well, my thoughts go to God’s grace and the nature of it. And this moment is no different.
I have mentioned Pastor Fred in previous writings, but I am going to do so again because he knew, understood and lived God’s grace. It is far too common, in my opinion anyway, that grace is just seen as something ethereal or theoretical. Or if it is seen as something tangible, it is seen as something which is dainty and frail. But in reality, grace is very rugged and physical because of the power it provides because it is from the almighty God. Pastor Fred lived out this rugged, physical and powerful grace. Because of having a rare genetic disorder called Von Hippen Lindau disease, Pastor Fred didn’t live one day without pain. Because of this disease, which I severely detest even saying the name by the way, he never slept more than 4 hours at a time because he just couldn’t. I remember some very intense discussions with him about what he experienced on a daily basis; conversations that gave me a glimpse into what he lived every day
But there was one thing that I never experienced with Pastor Fred; I never recall him lashing out at me even though his days were filled with pain and certainly stress at some level because of it. I only saw grace flowing, even if he was frustrated with me for some reason or by some situation. I find, in my own life, that if I am stressed by some situation or circumstance, it is easy for me to allow the stress to cause me to treat a loved one in an improper way. This was not Pastor Fred. Even though every day was filled with pain, he never allowed that pain to affect how he related and responded to people, at least not that I remember. He lived out the powerful and physicality aspects of grace which allowed him to be sustained every day of his 45 years on this earth.
There may be a surface characteristic of grace which is refined and may appear as frail, but under that surface, the character of true grace is powerful, physical and very rugged. Because of the 3 ½ years during which I was blessed to serve and minister alongside and learn at his feet, I know what true grace is, its character and how it truly impacts a person’s life because I saw it lived out.
This is at the very core of my prayer to my Father in heaven for my friend. Will it be an easy road? Unfortunately, the answer is no, but can it be a road that is saturated with real and true grace with grace’s power, ruggedness and physicality being truly present and impacting those who experience and observe it? Absolutely yes, and that is my prayer.
It has now been over 16 years since my mentor in ministry finished the race our heavenly Father put before him, a race that he finished well, better than anyone I have personally ever known in my life and, even still, I have tears coming to my eyes just thinking about him and how much I miss him. Much like I am sure Timothy owed much to the Apostle Paul for the pastor and leader in the church he became, I owe more than I can ever repay to Pastor Fred. The only way I can even repay in some small way is to continue to carry on what he planted in me through his teaching and life.
I have a list of people that I want to see when I have finished the race that my heavenly Father has given me. Topping that list is the Reverend Dr. Fred Moore. Oh my, how I look forward to that day.