What a crazy hard, delightful, heart-wrenching, celebratory few days we’ve had! We drove up to Marion on Sunday and spent the evening with a wonderful friend with whom we had been on staff for five years. The next morning, Ken and I divided and conquered a couple of different visits with friends and colleagues, and then met back together to travel the final 90 minutes to Pastor Dave’s memorial service.
The last few weeks of his life, God woke me in the night to pray for Dave. On this side of heaven, he never knew how many times I was breathless from the pain he was in, or that I was “sitting up with him” praying over him — even hundreds of miles away. I believe God woke me when he breathed his last breath. I had learned when I was in full-time medical practice, God always told me the moment when one of my patients passed into eternity. Each time it happened, the Holy Spirit made it very clear to me that I had just lost my patient, even if I was miles away from the hospital, and even when death came unexpectedly. I would confirm it later in the patient’s chart, and it was always the exact minute. Though Pastor Dave was never my patient, I believe God woke me when He called him home too. The following night, after weeks of insomnia, I was finally able to sleep — until the night before the memorial service. It was time to pray over his family.
Pastor Dave’s family graciously offered to extend “family” status to us, and we met with Pastor Dave’s family, sat with them at the service, and then dined with the extended family afterwards. I don’t think I’ve laughed and cried simultaneously so much in my life. I miss Pastor Dave deeply, and a part of me had somehow hoped that we would be able to work together again — to relive the laughter, to see hundreds more souls come to Christ, to dream God-sized dreams together. I still can’t quite believe he’s gone. Though we’ve not lived in the same town for nearly a decade now, I feel his absence, and the world doesn’t seem quite right.
Pastor Dave preached at his own memorial service on video, and I’ll never forget the seven most important things he talked about. His genuine love for his lovely wife Susan, his family, his church, his neighbors, and his Lord were so clear. In the midst of all the tears as he said his final good-bye to all of us on video, and after the final song was sung, the officiate announced one last crazy plan that Pastor Dave had orchestrated: a treasure hunt. Clues had been placed, treasure had been hidden, and instructions were given to those who wanted to have one last adventure with Pastor Dave. Even at his memorial service, Pastor Dave couldn’t have us leave without smiles on our faces.
We shared more laughter and stories after the funeral with several former coworkers — one of whom is now living in Minnesota, one now living in Maryland — who had also knew they couldn’t miss the chance to honor and celebrate the life of the man who had such clear anointing on his life, and we were each blessed to have been a part of his ministry. Dinner with the family was like being “home” again.
We arrived back in Nashville in the wee hours of the morning, and we spent much of the drive remembering all the miraculous things that happened to Pastor Dave, all the fun times we had sitting at a table with him, how in some very dark days his love and friendship meant the world to us. I never want to forget a single story, a single laugh, a single lesson.
Here is one of my favorite Pastor Dave stories that happened during the time we worked with him in Marion, as he wrote it. Even if you don’t know Pastor Dave, please read –you’ll catch a glimpse of God’s anointing:
I was on my way up the elevator to the 5th floor of the jail chapel wondering what I was going to speak about. Chaplain Brady had called me just an hour ago to fill in as a speaker for someone who had cancelled. For some reason, I was reminded of a tragedy that had happened twenty years ago while pastoring my first church . . . four children were playing near a stone quarry the week before Christmas. Their mother had warned them not to go out onto the ice because it had not been cold enough yet, but as children do, they wandered out on the ice and one of them broke through. His brother tried to rescue him and broke through too. The sister tried a rescue as well, and yes, she broke through the ice also. The only one left on shore was the seven-year old brother and he ran for help. When the rescuers came, it was too late. All three of the children had drowned. I officiated the saddest funeral of my life. Three children, all of one family, three days before Christmas. If only they had heeded their mother’s warning!
Well, I told this story to the prisoners and made the comparison: You are in trouble now because you did not heed warning after warning. When are you going to listen? It’s too late for those children, but it’s not too late for you! You can still be rescued. Come to Jesus! He is reaching for you!
Thirteen men raised their hands to make commitments to Christ that night. When the service was over, one prisoner on the back row stayed with his head down, weeping. The guards were nudging him, but he continued to sit there and weep.
The officer gave me a look that meant, “Come tell this man to go, or we will.” I went over and sat next to him. The prisoner asked, “Are you really the man who preached the funeral for those three children twenty years ago?” I told him that I was. He raised up his head for the first time and looked at me. “I was that seven-year old boy who ran for help.”
By now I was weeping, the guards were weeping, one officer went over and looked out the window so it would not be noticed that he was crying. I asked the prisoner, “What are you in here for?” He said, “A car backed out and hit my car, and when the officer ran a check, he said there was a warrant for my arrest.” When I asked what for, He said, “It was for failure to pay child support, but I have neer been married and I don’t have any children. It’s a mistake, but now I see that God wanted me to be here to hear a message from a man who preached the funeral of my sisters and brothers. Now that I have accepted Christ as my Savior, does this mean I will get to see them again?”
“You will see them again,” I replied.
Now I understand why God would have a volunteer cancel in the last hour, why Chaplain Brady thought of calling me, why a ‘mistake’ in the police computer system held an innocent man in jail, why this twenty year old tragedy came to my mind. God had orchestrated all of these events to create a divine appointment to help heal a wounded 27-year-old man who saw his siblings drown when he was only seven years old.
Coincidence? No . . . A Divine appointment.
–Pastor David Terhune
How fortunate we were to spend some of the early years of our ministry with him! I’m so thankful that a Divine appointment caused our paths to cross with Pastor Dave.