Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”
2 Timothy 4:2
Do you think they would mind,” she asked? It was over a year ago but even now I savor the moment. It was very early in the morning on our last day at Key Colony. I awoke from a good night’s sleep (I mean we were on vacation), made a cup of coffee, and headed down to the beach. Sunrise was a good hour away, but the water and the air were both calm. The only sound was the gentle lap of the waves against the sandy shore. This is my time of the day. God is in the labor room delivering another day for us to enjoy…and I love it.
After a while, the sky slowly turned gray, and you could see the beginning of the sunrise. It was going to be a good one. About that time, my wife Judy wandered out and sat down with me. Just when you think something couldn’t get better…it does. Judy seems to make anything better. We chatted and sipped coffee enjoying the creation process. After another few minutes, the sun peeked over the horizon and another day was born. Good job, Father, and thank you. Now that it was daylight, you could see that the water was not only calm…it was crystal clear. It was then that Karen walked up.
We had talked with Karen and her boyfriend the night before. We talked about life, faith, and God. It was an opportunity for me to share some about how much God loved us. Gary had a large tattoo on his left arm that said, “Faith.” That gave an opportunity to talk about not only faith, but where that faith should be directed. I shared it wasn’t enough just to have faith…you had to direct that faith in the right direction…right toward God.
When Karen walked up that morning, I noticed that she was carrying two small containers. I could tell that something was on her mind and that is when she asked the question. She asked, “Do you think they would mind if I poured my son’s and husband’s ashes in the water?” I quickly assured her that I was sure they would not. It turned out that her son had tragically died of an opioid overdose at the age of 22. I didn’t get the details of her husband’s death but since she was in her early fifties, I assumed he too died young. Then, it was my turn to ask a question. I asked, “Would you like me to say a prayer?” And, without hesitation, she answered yes.
Judy asked if Karen would like to have a picture taken and she agreed to that too. All three of us walked down into the water and slowly Karen opened the containers and poured the ashes into the water. As they touched the water, it turned to a color very similar to wet cement but then just as quickly the color disappeared. She said a few words, speaking to the souls she could no longer hold. And then, I asked God for His peace to be on Karen. I thanked Him for His love…even in hard times like this. With an amen we were done. Almost.
Judy and I both gave Karen a hug…that was the only way we knew we could tell her we cared, and that God cared too. As we left the water, Karen headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for a cup of coffee and Judy and I returned to our chairs by the beach. We knew that we had kept a divine appointment. I wish I could write and share how Karen and Gary both placed their faith in Jesus but that wasn’t the case…at least not that day. But I do know we scattered seed in their lives. I know we left fingerprints on their lives and heart and who knows what God will do with that.
When I woke up that morning, I didn’t know I was going to preside over a funeral standing in the Florida Straits. Judy didn’t know she was going to act as a memory maker for Karen…but our Dearest Daddy did. He knew…just as He always does. We just need to be ready whenever He opens a door or a window and then simply walk where He leads.
Paul, the one who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, told a young preacher named Timothy one day, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” When he said to preach…trust me, it was more than standing on a stage on any given Sunday…and it wasn’t just for preachers and teachers. It was for all of us Jesus followers and it is for all places…planned…or not. I learned a long time ago that the best sermons are often not preached on Sunday…rather, they are lived out over the course of the other six days. So, let’s be ready to be used. It may be at the store, on the job or at the ballfields. Just remember this. When the time comes, He will be there to help and you can rest assured, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne