Union Ridge Church

January 18, 2023

by Reverend Dan on January 20, 2023
In the last few weeks, some folks I grew up admiring have passed away. Jeff Beck, the incredibly gifted guitarist for the Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group. (The title of one of his songs still cracks me up every time I think about it: “Constipated Duck.”) Randy Bachman, the drummer for Bachman-Turner Overdrive. (If you’ve ever sung (screamed) “Takin Care of Business” while driving down the road with your windows down and hair blowing everywhere, you feel me.) Lisa-Marie Presley. If that doesn’t make you feel old; I remember when that child was born. I also notice in the paper just about every day someone my age or younger has passed away; some who were friends. Gone way too soon, as they say.

I guess that’s one way you know you’re getting old. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It seems that because of all these little “reminders”, lots of old friends and I are starting to get back in touch. Some by accident (or maybe divine providence) and some intentional. I went to dinner over the holidays in the county where I grew up, and I saw three people I went to high school with. Even though 45 years had passed, memories instantly came flooding back behind the smiles on our faces as we greeted each other. It seems every time I go back home now, I see someone from my long ago past and there’s always that same reaction and feeling. For others, maybe they’ve seen one of my devotionals and still, after all these years, can’t believe I’m a preacher so, they reach out. Or maybe I’ve seen pictures of them with their grandkids and message them and promise that even though the child looks a lot like them right now, maybe it will outgrow that curse one day. (I never said we grew up, just grew old.)

What happened? Decades have passed by, and we hardly noticed. What happened was that we got busy with life. We went away to school, started careers, got married, had kids, and lost touch. But the realization of our own mortality has us suddenly remembering all those people who meant so much to us at some point in our lives. And the farther back, the better. You see, we want to feel the attachment to our pasts – our youth - because it reminds us of times that were simpler and easier. We want to remember. Remember that at one point in our lives something didn’t hurt every time we stood up. That we could eat anything we wanted and stay the same shape. That we could run faster than we could walk (they’re both the same pace now.) That we could spend the day at the beach and on the boat, and late nights riding the country roads and still get up the next day and work all day. (Didn’t WANT to, but we could.) That the doctor was someone we saw only when we got sick or hurt something playing ball or did something stupid right after we said, “Hey, everybody, watch this!” Now he or she is someone we’re on a first name basis with, have on the Favorite’s list on our phones, and see more than we do our kids. (Before my dad passed away, he told me the reason folks have to retire is because that’s the only way they can have enough time to go to all their doctors’ appointments. Right again, Pop.)

Memories are an incredible thing. They allow us a chance to relive special times in our lives. They reconnect us to when we were young and invincible (or so we thought) and our entire lives were ahead of us. I believe memories really are a gift from God. Without memories, our lives would be infinitely poorer. As someone once said, “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” The Psalmist says, “I remember to think about the many things you did in years gone by. Then I lift my hands in prayer.” That’s where I am in my life. Remembering and thanking God for the moments and people that now mean more to me than anything I own or possess. I feel a genuine joy in my heart every time I see the face of an old friend or hear from them on social media. (Bunny trail . . . remember when we were young? That curly phone cord that was 15 feet long and you’d lay on the floor by the phone in the kitchen and talk until your time limit was up? If you’re under 40, I know that’s all like a foreign language to you. Ask your parents, they remember.) My prayer for you is that you will take every chance possible to look back over your life, remember the friends who have helped you to write the story of your life, and get in touch with them. Don’t take them for granted any longer. God sent those friends to share your journey. Embrace them and I promise, you will lift your hands in prayer that our God is so incredibly good


On Monday evening, I did the final edit on this week’s devotional and loaded it to appear on Wednesday. In between, on Tuesday, January 17, my brother Tom passed away after a year-long battle with cancer. (I’m not going to use words like courageous and with dignity . . . for the faith he lived and displayed, we’d have to make up words much stronger than those.) Obviously, the devotional wasn’t on my mind yesterday, but when it popped up last night, I realized that the message was one God had given me; you just got to hear it.

In moments like those, I cannot fathom how anyone can say that God is not here and intimately involved in every part of our lives. At that moment I could feel His presence reminding me that He will never leave or forsake us, and that even though I grieve, it is not as one who has no hope.

Rest well, big brother. You truly fought the good fight, kept the faith, and finished the race. I’m proud you were my mentor. And for everyone else, call someone and tell them you love them. It’ll be the best time you spend today..​​​​​​​