December 30. 2012 “Finishing Well”
A few months ago I learned that my dear friend Ellery Lawrence was dying of cancer. Ellery was the deacon chairman in the first church I pastored. He was such a godly man and a real encouragement to me as a young pastor. He and his wife Bettye taught us so much about Christian grace. He was always hopeful and faithful. In 1979 when a tornado ripped through Wichita Falls his home was destroyed along with many of the rest of the members of the church. But Ellery didn’t think about his own needs. You would find him most Saturdays working at someone else’s house helping them to recover. He loved non-believers and would often take me to see friends and loved ones who needed to know Christ. On a recent trip to Wichita Falls Nan and I stopped by to see Ellery at the hospice facility where he was receiving care. We hadn’t seen him in several years and we weren’t sure if he would recognize us. When we walked into his room, he was lying in the bed, his body emaciated by cancer, but his face lit up with his typical joyous smile. And we spent a half-hour just rehashing good memories. At one point in the conversation Ellery talked about how God had been so faithful to him throughout his battle with cancer. He was concerned for his wife and family, but his faith was still strong. With tears welling up in his eyes Ellery said, “Mike, I know where I am going and I am excited!” Just a couple of weeks after we visited Ellery he went to be with Jesus. He finished well. I want to challenge us today about finishing well.