This past week, the church of Jesus here on earth lost two of its giants. George Verwer, a humble man whom God used to found a missions organization called Operation Mobilisation, left the moorings of earth at 84 years of age to go to the Father whom he served. I met George when he came to Toronto many years ago. He was much younger then, but the passion of his cry for the lost of the world moved my friend and I to tears. From the fruit of his labours came thousands of new believers in 110 countries across the globe, but he never gloried in his work, calling himself “God’s bungler” as he made his way through life by God’s amazing grace. And then four short days after George’s passing, we heard of the homegoing of preacher, teacher, pastor and servant, Charles Stanley at the age of 90. Many years ago, I remember listening to his son speak about his father’s meekness as he endured the breaking of his marriage because he was far too much away from home involved in the work of ministry, and the subsequent scathing criticism of his own church where he spent so much of his time on. What impressed me about this man was his consistent lifestyle of loving instruction in the Word, and the fact that his spirit was never bitter. His son said in tears as he spoke, “My dad did not have a bad word to say about mom. It was his loving example that guided me to become a pastor myself.”
Both George and Charles have arrived at the Throne Room of heaven. My mind goes to that passage written by King David that said, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). It’s a verse incomprehensible in its context. Psalm 116 is David’s rejoicing that God has constantly rescued him from the jaws of death. “Because He inclined His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live!” (Psalm 116:2). He details how God delivered him from distress and anguish, from places of despair and disillusionment, and from seemingly unbreakable bonds of captivity. Yet, verse 15 stands as the anomaly – until I read of the lives of George Verwer and Charles Stanley this past week. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come,” John Newton wrote in his hymn Amazing Grace, “But grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will bring me home.” David’s accounts of God’s deliverance did not mean he was under the delusion that he would live forever, but that God’s grace was shown to him so that he could do just one more thing for God. In the end, we hear the shout, “Come up!” and He gathers us in His arms as precious to Himself. May we take a page from lives of these two giants of the faith to live to do just one more thing for God. May we rise up to take up the task that they left behind to live for God so that others may grow and others may go. May we honour God’s giants by standing on the shoulders of their faith.