I’ve spent the last week with my beautiful bride Michelle listening to the memorial and funeral services for our old friend and spiritual father Pastor Jerry Hill. I don’t think I can describe to you all the emotions we’ve been experiencing (as Im sure his own family and congregation are as well) as we are grasping the reality that he has been ushered into the immediate presence of Christ our King. It’s amazing as you listen to those, if not all of those who attended his services, as they speak about Jerry’s steadfast faith, the way he loved people into the kingdom of heaven and how he stayed true to just preaching the gospel of Jesus.
I reflect back to 1986 when we were being discipled by Jerry and Grace. Their love was unconditional toward us. Jerry taught me the scriptures and how to study. I know that God used that man to stir up the love and the gift of teaching within my heart. Pastor Jerry was the vessel God chose to ignite a love for God’s word. I’ve been on my journey with the Lord ever since. I’ve had some highs and some lows. I’ve gone left when God told me go right. We’ve circled some of the same mountains as God was trying to reach our hearts. As I sat and listened to my Pastor friend speak the word, it hit me: I’ve laid down the mantle that was placed upon me to study and to give away the word of God.
It’s not as if I was in a backslidden state, but I was not owning the call upon my life. The Lord used Jerry to ignite that fire, but along the way, it seems like I may have allowed that blaze to dwindle. The beauty in all this is that as we sat in our living room and cried and laughed with the body of believers who were at Calvary Baptist Church of Carney’s Point, New Jersey celebrating Jerry’s homecoming, God was using these very sweet moments to reignite that fire. God is allowing my wife and I to process so much in the Spirit as we are sensing Him drawing us in, and calling us out. He’s drawing us into the more intimate places of his heart, and He’s calling us out of the back of the desert.
In the book of Exodus, Moses flees Egypt after he murders and Egyptian for beating a fellow Hebrew. He runs to Midian, finds a wife and begins raising a family. He’s basically laid down the mantle of his calling as the one who was to deliver Gods people. God positioned him in Egypt as the one with the favor of Pharaoh, and he kinda blew it and fled. So here he is some 40 years later hanging out with sheep out “in the back of the desert” (Ex. 1:3). It was in the back of the desert that God, the great I AM, appeared to him in fire of the burning bush and commissioned him to be the deliverer of His people. God was calling him out of his fear and inadequacy, and calling him into His will. Now, I’m not claiming to be anything near the man Moses was, nor that God is calling me to deliver a nation of people. What He is doing though, is He’s using this season in my life to peel me and my wife wide open, exposing some vulnerabilities, revealing some weaknesses and some areas that need shoring up. All the while, He’s showing us His amazing heart of love and His provision of grace for the season. Personally, He is calling me to pick up the mantle that I have laid aside. The mantle of speaking truth, teaching, edifying His people, being available and just being obedient to the things to which He has called me.
I would have never imagined that He would once again use our dear friend and spiritual father Jerry Hill to do that. Pastor Jerry lived in New Jersey and we’re in California. We haven’t talked in a couple of years. I had no idea he was battling for his natural life for the past year and a half. Not until I was promoted to call him on our spiritual birthday last week, that I found out that He had passed into eternity. He was now sitting with the very One that he introduced Michelle and I to 32 years ago. Even though I didn’t talk to him often, I valued him and loved him so much for how he effected our lives, literally for ever.
God, I miss him. Yet, even in his absence, he is still blessing us and compelling us to draw near to the heart of our Father. Bless you dear brother. Because of you, were moving out of the back of the desert, and into the light of His fire. Peace friends.