Ed passed into the arms of his heavenly Father last Tuesday, Aug. 18th. I had written this piece before he passed, but could not seem to post it. Maybe I just wanted to pretend that he was not dying…maybe it hurt to know that Ed would not post his comments here anymore, as he regularly did. I don’t know if people in heaven can see and hear us, but if they can I know Ed would say to me “Don’t cry Lizard; I am so much more than fine now; one day you will see it for yourself.” One day indeed. “I am the Resurrection and the Life; he who believes in Me will never die.” John 11:25
Written on August 12, 2015
My dear friend Ed is dying. Not metaphorically, but really dying. Technically he has been for a while I guess-outlasting his cancer by a year or two, according to the experts. But as we know, Ed has never been one to do things on the typical path.
Ed has had a very rough time with all the pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual. He has wrestled with his God whom he loves with all the power that a human heart, mind, soul and strength can muster. And in my opinion he has done it quite well, much better than I would, trust me. Those who know and love him have watched him do it with grace, dignity (ok, most of the time) and lots of humor-some which may be offensive to those with more delicate sensibilities. To those who know and love him however, his humor is quite endearing for its boldness and honesty.
He has a blog, We Do Not Lose Heart which is always worth the read. In addition to being an excellent teacher, Ed it turns out, is a wonderfully gifted writer. When working with a patient who was also dealing with cancer I would suggest his blog to them with this caveat: Ed is a pastor but he is not a holy holy type. He is honest, bold, funny, and may seem irreverent. He understands the human heart and shares some of his own-even the darker places. Ed knows that we are all sinners, but that a wonderful God loves us and has mercy on us. He is a grateful, redeemed son, and therefore even in his suffering he does not curse God. This is one reason that people love Ed. And in a strange and surprising way, but not ironic when you think about our God, Ed has helped strangers know more about God and His great love for us as he has been slowly dying these last few years.
I first met Ed when we were all in our twenties, newly married, and young in our Christian walk (so young that we thought we were mature). I still recall his visit to our Roswell home so many years ago after attending a pastor’s conference at Perimeter Church, and talking to him about why he would be a great pastor for our denomination. Years later when we moved to Athens, as luck would have it (my word for providence, and if this offends you-maybe you won’t enjoy Ed’s blog so much), Ed was our pastor. Under his teaching (along with some other great teachers) I learned that being respectable was not what Christianity was all about, what it meant to acknowledge myself as a sinner, and just how beautiful God’s forgiveness was. He helped me and my family understand the love of God, and for that I will always be grateful to him.
But there is so much more. He made me laugh. I love funny people, and Ed was very funny-but not in a let me tell you a joke kind of way. He was funny because he was extremely smart, and a keen observer of human nature. Sometimes his humor caught me off gaurd, which made me love him more. It still makes me smile to recall one such incident years and years ago. Joe was away at a conference and our toilet had backed up. Ed lived down the street and knew how to fix just about anything so I called him and together we took the toilet apart and got it fixed. As I handed him tools and helped him remove the toilet from its base, I repeatedly told him how sorry I was to involve him in this mess. His reply to me: “Don’t worry Lizard, I am used to dealing with people’s crap.” Caught me off guard-and I still am laughing about it. Good one Ed!
Another thing I loved about Ed was his honesty. I interviewed him for a book I am writing on cancer patients. His comments were insightful, and bold, and as always refreshing. One of the first things he told me was “Liz, we’re all dying.” That’s how Ed rolled-cutting to the chase but doing it in a loving way. Talking with Ed always made me challenge my own preconceived notions and self-righteousness, but not in a way that made me ashamed. This is the part of Ed that I thought was the most like Jesus. Not many are able to pull this off but he did. I think it is because he counted himself in with the sinners and was so grateful that God found him and redeemed him. And he made it safe to say you were a sinner too.
In a recent chat I told Ed he was much bolder than I could be, and I admired that. He told me I was much kinder than he could be, and back at me. But of course he knew he wasn’t really that bold and I knew I wasn’t really that kind. But we both understood that God was at work in our lives so that they could be used to glorify Him, despite our flaws. With Ed one could admit to flaws without any embarrassment.
If you want to know more of Ed and his God, read his blog. He explains it all so much better than I could. I know I will read all the posts again and again. Today as I reflect on his life and ministry I already miss him, though he is still with us, in hospice care.
See you in heaven, Lizard Gabriel Faure-Requiem: ‘In Paradisum’