The Blessings of “Well Done”

My throat ached with a sudden well of tears and I made mental commitments NOT to cry as I entered the full sanctuary for Ed’s memorial service last night. A man of God, and a man who loved people, Ed lived a full life, one that attracted people of all kinds like, well, kind of like Jesus on the hills of Galilee. Ed was both gracious, and absolutely dedicated to truth. He was honest and hardworking,  playful and fun-loving. He was a Jesus follower who anticipated the joys of heaven, while making every moment on this earth count. He was a father, a husband, and grandpa, who knit his family together with the bonds of Christ-love, yet opened his arms and received as family those not of his blood. And that’s where we come into his story.

Ed and Patti adopted us as part of the family not so very long ago, when we were in a place of deep need. And this adoption was so unconditional and so warm, that it never felt like mere charity. Instead it was extended as a true offer for fellowship in a Christ family, one that gave because it was part of its Christ nature to do so. Not an obligation, but a privilege.

My heart aches, because God chose to take Ed less than a year after this bond of family enveloped us in loving connection. And I didn’t get to spend the kind of time I would have longed to with this genuine, gentle, spiritual giant. But I can’t dwell on the regrets. Instead I have to celebrate with joy the gift of being part of Ed’s family even for a short time. And in that celebration I recount the ways that God used Ed in our lives as we began our journey here in WI.

You see, Ed believed in second chances, even for people like Joel. Ed believed in a God who restores, a God who redeems, a God who brings beauty to life in the midst of our own tendency to destroy. And because of this Ed helped Joel to get the job he now has at Milwaukee Working. But it’s not just the job, although I can’t minimize its practical importance, it’s the heart behind it. Ed never treated Joel as if he should be grateful for the hand-out. Rather, he treated Joel as if this was a God-designed opportunity for Joel and MW, a partnership in which both could minister to the glory of God. Ed gave Joel the gift of restoration.

Our family’s move last year would have been so different in a myriad of ways if God had not led us to the Edwards’ family (whom we’d known 20 years ago when we lived here as Bible School students) and renewed our ties with them. So while Ed is now celebrating a “well-done” life in heaven with Jesus, I am celebrating some of the blessings that flow from that “Well-done.” Thank you, God, for your servant Ed. My life and my love for you, is deeper because of him.

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