“Facing the Music” When I Don’t Like the Song

        Sorrow.Sunset

(Note: This post was the sixth most read of 2013)

David Cawston, in a sermon entitled “Ready to Face the Music,” began with this riddle. Can you guess the answer?

“There is a preacher of the old school, but he speaks as boldly as ever. He is not popular though the world is his parish, and he travels every part of the globe and speaks in every language. He visits the poor, calls upon the rich, preaches to people of every religion and no religion, and the subject of his sermon is always the same. He is an eloquent preacher, often stirring feelings which no other preacher could in bringing tears to eyes that never weep. His arguments none are able to refute, nor is there any heart that has remained unmoved by the force of his appeals. He shatters life with his message. Most people hate him; everyone fears him.”

“His name?”

“Death.”

“Every tombstone is his pulpit. Every newspaper prints his text, and someday every one of you will be his sermon.”

We know this is true intellectually.  But we forget it emotionally.  Until it hits close to home. In our family or circle of friends.  Yesterday it hit close to home. Again.

I was eating lunch at Applebee’s.  Checking my facebook messages.  And suddenly a message appeared from Nathan Ward.  It said that Marty Pickup had collapsed while playing tennis.  Went into cardiac arrest.  And died.

What?  I must have read this wrong.  It wasn’t Marty.  Nathan must had made a mistake.  Left a name out of the message.  Or received some incorrect information.  Over the next few minutes I realized it was so.

I was stunned. Shocked. Dazed.  While sitting there in a very public place, reading from a very public medium, I was in my own private world, almost in a stupor.  I thought of the many times I sat and listened to Marty preach. And teach Bible classes.  He did so with such clarity.  Kindness.  And concern for properly presenting Truth to the hearers. He was MartyPickupalways well prepared and he delivered his lessons with power, but in a true spirit of love.

My Mom and Dad attended the Valrico church where he ministered.  Later when her health declined Mom moved her membership to a closer congregation.  I remember how good Marty and Aimee treated Mom.  Their genuine concern.  Their gentleness.  And compassion.

Marty preached for five years at the Hickman Mills church where I now minister.  He is greatly loved and highly respected here in Kansas City.  And the news of his passing is shocking to our members as well.

His death is difficult to accept.  He has left us too soon.  Far too soon.  And yet we know the words of the Hebrew writer, “It is appointed once to man to die” (Heb. 9:27).

Indeed death is a sobering word.  A cold word.  A frightening word.  We don’t even like to say it.  We prefer euphemisms.  We say, “he passed away.’  “He expired.” “He’s gone.”  In a lighter vein we speak of someone “pushing up daisies’, or “kicking the bucket,” Or being “six feet under.”

Our joking, however, has a tinge of nervousness attached to it.  We don’t like death.  We don’t like to think about death.  And we don’t want to lose our loved ones to death.  From a human viewpoint death seems incomprehensible.  Albert Einstein once said, “What is incomprehensible is beyond the realm of science.  It is in the realm of God.”  Death?  It’s in the realm of God.

Thankfully, God gives us some insight into His realm.  The Bible provides us a different perspective than my human eyes allow.  A better perspective.  A clearer view. An eternal outlook.  And that is all made possible because of Jesus.  Who he was.  And what he did. And how he did it. Yes, He arose!  His victory over sin, Satan and the sepulcher, gives me hope.  (And it gave Marty hope.)  They remove death’s foreboding feeling and its solemn prospects.

We share the sorrow of Marty’s untimely passing with his wife, Aimee, their children, his parents as well as family, friends and brethren.  But  as we are once again reminded of death’s unpleasant intrusion in our lives,  we can be strengthened by these words from Paul:

 “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:54,57)

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

11 Comments

Filed under 2013 Top Posts, Death, Eulogy

11 responses to ““Facing the Music” When I Don’t Like the Song

  1. While I didn’t know him personally, I have read his articles (& have many saved) for some time. The description of “a ready scribe” always came to mind upon reading his material. I have learned/grown much spiritually, from his efforts.

  2. EZEKIEL, western uganda

    it,s a pity that our brother has rested from the duty his master gave him! God clearly says we live and die by him. I painfully had the same experience in February this year when i lost my Grandpa at the age of 94yrs. Fortunately, he had obeyed the truth and was a member of Isule church of christ, western uganda.
    Hopeful Marty and my late grandpa will meet the lord. THE Bible says, blessed are those who die in the lord…
    we should pray that when our turn reaches , we should be in faith lest we regret our service for the church

  3. Bill Hood

    Some deaths, as we see them, are such a great loss to the Lord’s people and to His purpose for us in the earth. I believe Marty’s was such a death. My heart goes out to his family and our brethren who knew him.

  4. ann white

    marty finished a meeting for us on monday evening. they were powerful lessons and he was passionate in his presentation. never expected what has happened to happen. please pray for his parents, harry and joella, as they have lost 2 of their 5 children in untimely ways!

  5. Jim

    I remember very well when we had Marty here in Fort Scott for a meeting. A great loss for us and shock but we never kow when that time will come. We will pray for the family and we share in their feeling of loss
    Jim and Renee Gerteis

  6. Houston Elmore

    Ken, thanks for that beautiful story of Marty. He like you stayed in our home when he held Gospel Meetings. We so enjoyed him being here. He always was such a joy to have him stay in our home. We have good memories of him. Love and sympathy to his family. Houston & Martha Elmore

  7. Shannon Key

    I too was shocked when I received the news of Marty’s death. I heard his lecture at FC last month and it was so informative about why it was so critical (in the Jewish mindset) that Jesus rise the third day both from a physical and legal standpoint. I had never heard this presented before and he made it extremely interesting.

  8. Reblogged this on ThePreachersWord and commented:

    ThePreachersWord is taking a holiday break and reblogging the top 9 posts of 2013. This one was #6.

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