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Come to the Garden Book | Coronation Day…A Personal Tribute to a True Disciple

Coronation Day…A Personal Tribute to a True Disciple

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ~ Matthew 4:19 (ESV)

This past weekend, a giant in my life’s faith journey was called home by his beloved Lord.

My Uncle Don was a quiet gentleman that faithfully obeyed God’s call to “follow me” and in mid-life left his job as an engineer to go into full-time ministry.  Don fully embraced Jesus’ command to follow Him and become fishers of men.  Jesus was passionate about the eternal condition of the hearts and souls of all he met, and Don was the same.

Don was always a beloved uncle, but one summer he also became my spiritual mentor.  Our families gathered every year on the shores of Lake Michigan to vacation, and this particular summer I had the opportunity to spend an extra week with my Uncle Don, Aunt Adrienne and their family.

At that time in my life as a young teenager, I was struggling to understand my relationship with God.  My parents had provided a strong foundation for my faith, yet I could not comprehend the passion for Christ that was evident in many people I knew.  I often wondered “how does one get that passion?”

I was soon to find out. That summer week in Michigan, Don and Adrienne took me sailing out on the breezy, beautiful bay in their little red and white sailboat.  The further out we sailed, the more afraid I became…the water turned a dark blue and was hundreds of feet deep.  Observing my fear, Uncle Don shared with me the story of Jesus calming the sea – and the fears of His disciples.  I was intrigued.  I asked to go sailing again, and for the next week we sailed every day.  As our boat rocked gently on the lazy rolling waves, Don shared more stories with me about this wonderful Jesus who loved me and wanted to be a permanent resident in my heart.  Amazingly, I felt my heart falling in love with this Jesus.  It was kind of like the Grinch in Dr. Seuss’s ‘The Grinch That Stole Christmas’ when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes in one day!  At the end of the week, Uncle Don and Aunt Adrienne joyfully stood by me as I knelt and asked Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of my life.  I had found my passion!  The rest is history.

Don truly was a fisher of men…an authentic disciple of Jesus.  Whether he was sailing on deep blue waters or ministering in his church, he led many hearts to Jesus, just like he did mine.  He understood Jesus’ passionate concern for the condition of our hearts and souls, and he faithfully followed his Lord’s call to “follow me” to the very end of his earthly life.

As I write this tribute, I am reminded of Dwight L. Moody’s (founder of The Moody Bible Institute) quote as he lay on his deathbed:

“A few hours before entering the ‘Homeland,’ Dwight L. Moody caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him. Awakening from a sleep, he said, ‘Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.’  His son who was standing by his bedside said, ‘No, no, father, you are dreaming.’

‘No,’ said Mr. Moody, ‘I am not dreaming: I have been within the gates: I have seen the children’s faces.’  A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle he spoke again: ‘This is my triumph; this my coronation day! It is glorious!’ ”

I have no doubt that Uncle Don was welcomed into heaven by his cherished Lord Jesus who embraced him, placed a crown of glory upon his head, and lovingly whispered into his ear, “Welcome home, my beautiful, beloved son!”

Although my heart mourns the loss of this special man, I rejoice in his glorious coronation as a beloved son of the Most High.  Godspeed, Uncle Don.  I love you.

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