Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
During the months of June & July, I want to take the opportunity in the Pulse to remember some of our brothers and sisters in the faith who have gone before us into the presence of Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In that spirit, I want to remember and honor the work of the Lord that was done by some truly special men and women and testify to how it was not in vain.
At this time last year, I received a call from the Fearon family while they were in Maine, letting me know that Brian’s breathing had gotten much worse, and they were not sure he would be able to make it back down to Connecticut. Over the previous few years, Brian’s lungs had been getting steadily worse, and a few days after they called me, on July 20th, Brian stopped breathing and entered into the presence of His Lord.
If you’ve been around NewLife awhile, you know that every few months I will give an opportunity for people to come forward and share testimonies of God’s work in their lives. Over the years, I would always sit in the front row and pray that Brian would get up to share. Inevitably I would hear him shuffling up to the podium in his sweatpants. He would lean forward, grab both sides of the podium, say a couple of words, begin to cry, clear his throat, and look upwards. Eventually he would compose himself and testify to how God rescued his life from the grip of drugs and alcohol, and how grateful he was for Laurie, who had patiently showed him the love of Christ until he believed for himself. And then he would sit back down. Brian didn’t need to be super eloquent. He just needed to put his heart on display and people would see Jesus: His love, His grace, and His power to transform a life.
At Brian’s Celebration of Life service, I shared this Biblical story, which reminded me of Brian:
Luke 18:9-14 - To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Tragically, many people in our culture think Christians are like the Pharisee in this passage: smug, self-righteous, and looking down on other people. But Brian was a reminder that Christians are more like the tax collector in this story: well aware of their own sins and faults, no better than anyone else, and desperately in need of God’s mercy. Brian used to say often that the shortest prayer is just “God!” That’s the cry of the tax collector in Luke 18 – no case to plead before God, just a simple and heartfelt plea for God’s mercy. But Jesus ends the parable by declaring that this is the kind of person God accepts.
I miss Brian. I think of him at every testimony time, wishing I could hear the shuffle of sweatpants behind me just one more time. But his everlasting testimony is that God is a God of mercy, who does not favor the put-together, self-righteous religious types who look down on others, but instead forgives and accepts those of us who know we have nothing to offer Him but our very lives.