I buried another friend on Saturday. I miss him already. His name is Dick Wilkerson. Yes, he was a great servant in the church. He taught the Bible for more than 50 years, beginning preparations for the next Sunday on the previous Sunday—no Saturday night specials for Dick or his class. He was also the Property Director at the church—a volunteer position that comes with an office and a generous budget. He oversaw matters of maintenance and remodeling on the church property. I will certainly miss his service in these important areas, but that’s not why I miss him.
I miss Dick because for years he and another man, Bob Deist, joined me every Wednesday evening in my study to pray. We prayed for church matters and church people. We prayed for the lost. We prayed for our nation and world. We prayed for each other. In recent years, we did a good bit more of the latter because both Bob and Dick were stricken with nagging illnesses from which they could get no cure. Across the years, Dick went from striding into my study to hobbling in, steadying himself on the furniture as he made his way to the chair. But it didn’t keep him from praying.
And you know what he prayed? Sometimes through tears he prayed, “Lord, you are a good God and so very good to me.” He meant it. No bitterness over his condition. No doubting God's love for him in spite of his situation. Dick had walked with God for so long and at such depth that broken down health couldn't shake his faith in God's love for him. The man walked well through adversity. He prayed in the spirit of Job whose prayers included lines like these: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” And, “Even though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
Dick taught me a lot about walking through adversity. This is what I learned: pray honestly; keep the faith; lean on friends; keep serving God in the places he puts you; leverage your suffering to point others to Jesus and give him glory. If God ever puts me in that level of adversity, I pray that I will be able to live through it like Dick lived through his.
Well, no more adversity for Dick. All is well. He is with Jesus. No more suffering for him. No more walker. No more limp. No more struggle for breath. No more pills to take. No more oxygen through a nasal cannula. Dick is just fine.
I am so glad for him. But I’m going to miss him. I’m going to miss those seasons of prayer. I’m going to miss his prayers for me. Sad, yes. But it gives me something to look forward to: that day on the other side when we join hearts again and pray around the throne, that day when we will get to see the ways God answered the prayers we prayed in that study, that glorious day when all our petitions and intercessions give way to nothing but praise.