Friday I attended the funeral of a man who has always been very dear to my heart, Mr. Earl Vander Meulen.
I met Mr Vander Meulen when our family moved to Holland and my Dad became the Pastor at Bethany CRC. I was entering the 9th grade and it was a time that felt full of transition and uncertainty. I came to really enjoy Sundays because I believed Bethany CRC was blessed with some of the most very kind people.
It has been 22 years since we left Holland and that in itself felt shocking to me as we drove into the Church parking lot.
22 years is a long time, but it all felt as if I had just walked back in time and was home. My Mom, Suzi and I remembered scenes with amazing clarity. We named the names of people who were walking into church. People looked the same, the scene’s in my memory felt oddly familiar and the feelings in my heart swelled with sweetness….
As we stood in the back of church and connected with so many familiar faces, my eye was drawn to the casket. I felt a pang in my heart. A man who was always present with a smile and a hug was missing. I stood by his body, I felt the ache, and it was evident to me that a good man had been claimed for his eternal home!
As I sat in the pew and looked around, I was reminded of the gift I had been given at Bethany. During a difficult transition in my life, I had been given a place to worship. In High School I worshiped as I knew how and yesterday I realized that I knew and understood very little about who God was and who I was back then. I also realized that it was in people like Mr Vander Meulen that I experienced faith in action….
I had been given a gift in the people who surrounded me, believed in me and loved me.
I had been given a gift to experience my Dad’s leadership, both in his preaching of the Word and in his day-to-day loving and leading of the congregation. My Dad seemed right at home in the pulpit yesterday and I was reminded again of my Dad’s passion for the Church and it’s people.
I had been given a gift in the years we were at Bethany CRC….a gift that fits into a perfect spot in my heart still today, a gift that I have even a deeper appreciation for after yesterday, a gift of kind people who loved me well and embraced me….
As we remembered this very dear man together on Friday morning, I was struck by God’s use of people to deepen faith…
I can almost hear Mr Vander Meulen minimize his impact, but in that struggle to embrace his deep goodness, I can also see his eyes twinkle and his grin reach from ear to ear. Mr Vander Meulen was one of the people in my High School faith story. He
endured enjoyed his leadership as a youth group leader and was a faithful man of deep faith.
Friday morning was a very sweet morning for me….
Friday morning left me with good reminders of my faith journey…
Friday morning was a morning I will not quickly forget, as I said good-bye to a man I enjoyed and was reminded of God’s promises, provision, presence and comfort!
To God be the Glory!