I want to tell you about 'J'. I first met J in September 2008, I can't remember where we were exactly when we met (though it was bound to be somewhere at church), or what was said but I remember being struck by his generosity and his concern for others, but most of all how alive his faith in Jesus was. As the years have gone on I have heard many many stories about J, stories of how he has gone out of his way to care for others, how he has welcomed people to our church with such great warmth and sincerity which has led them to join our church, stories of his patience in many circumstances, stories of how he has led others to care for various groups of people too and stories of how his relationship with Jesus has led others to faith too.
I have visited with J and his wife M quite a bit and everytime I have they sing each others praises - "he's one in a million", "she's my precious wife". It's refreshing to see a couple expressing their love and admiration for one another instead of complaining about how "my husband doesn't do this" "my wife doesn't care about that", J and M can't help but show how much they love each other and weren't afraid to tell others. This has been a real lesson and example to me because in the time I have known them I have gone from being a singleton to being part of a marriage myself. I learnt from them how to respect and honour your spouse, to speak words of love and how to strengthen a marriage.
A year and a half ago J was taken into hospital. It shocked so many in our church because J was extremely fit and able for being in his 90s. He was always more involved in things than the average person, he always stood at the door to the church on a Sunday morning welcoming people in whether his name was on the rota or not and he came to any and every event he had time for. I remember praying that if ever I get to be his age that I'd be of similar health and able to do all he was able to do too - a selfish prayer, definitely not characteristic of J.
His health improved enough for him to be at home again, however a week ago he was taken back into hospital after not feeling too great and then on Wednesday he passed away. I thought I had already heard such incredible amazing stories about J while he was alive but since his death I have been in such awe of the wonderful incredible man he was. He was humble, patient, kind, generous, caring, genuine and most importantly a true man of God, an inspiration and example to us all.
J had the real X factor in his life - Jesus - and it was evident to all he met and has impacted on them in ways they probably never expected to be impacted. I can't help but think that as amazing as J was and is, how much more amazing is Jesus for J to have followed and served Jesus all his life?
I miss J a lot and have been fighting back tears when I talk to people about him, but I praise God for J and being able to know him for the little while that I did. I'm thankful and excited to think that J is now in heaven amongst Abraham, Moses, David and all those other great witnesses in the Bible and that they're all cheering us on to reach that goal too.
I'm thankful for J, for the life he lived, the love he shown and the example he shared. I hope and pray people will see the x factor in my life too.