Wednesday, April 06, 2005


With the death of Pope John Paul II, I have started thinking more about my own faith and spiritual life. Even though I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian church which in my youth taught us to believe the Pope was in league with the devil, I have come to love this Pope. The strength of his faith as he faced death is to be admired. I think the world will miss this man.

Another man who faced death with more courage, dignity and faith than I could imagine was my brother-in-law. Tom Edwards had spent his life as a minister, missionary and writer among other things, but it was the way he faced his own death that made his life stand out to me. He emailed me often before he died. We had never been that close really, but his emails were a ministry to me during one of my deep depressions. How he found it in his heart to minister to me as he faced his own death is still a mystery to me.

There is no doubt in my mind that Tom had faith in his own salvation and in the God he had served all his life. I have heard him preach about faith and belief, but his all time best sermon in my mind was the way he faced his own death. It was with a certainty I had never seen before and have not seen since in a person that I knew personally.

Maybe Tom Edwards and John Paul are meeting in heaven right now. What will they discuss? Of course I really have no idea, but maybe they will chat about why some of us have such a hard time with faith.

I started preaching in my early teens while in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, with my parents who were missionaries there. I was last in a pulpit over a decade ago speaking about the need for the church to reach out to folks like me who suffer from a mental illness. Do I believe anything? Am I a person of faith?

Among other things Tom’s faith helped him face his own death. My faith has kept me alive. Since a child I have been suicidal. Sometimes I have been locked away in a hospital, but the real thing that has kept me alive when I most wanted to kill myself was my faith. I have just enough faith and belief not to risk making God mad at me by killing myself. Not enough to live by, but too much to die with. Maybe someday I will have enough faith to face the day of my death with the dignity of Tom and John Paul.


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