Note: The following is a blog that I send to the credentialed ministers of my denomination in my role as Church Ministries Director. However, I think the message is good for all of us–no matter our occupation and station in life.
I was saddened to learn Monday morning of the passing of Miriam LeBuhn.
Vernon and Miriam have been a part of my life since my teenage days. My dad gave them their second revival back in the early ‘70s when they first came to South Carolina. Believe it or not, Vernon and I served together on the State Youth Board (right after the Flood) and I was privileged to serve several terms with him on the State Council.
In addition, our paths have crossed many times in many other capacities and events as well.
Finally, as Church Ministries director in South Carolina, I am now occupying the same office (and parsonage) that Vernon and Miriam occupied as well.
So as you can see, my association and friendship with the LeBuhns has deep roots and my respect for them both is profound.
It was with that history in mind, that later that morning, I made my way over to the beautiful retirement home that Vernon had provided for his lovely wife. When I arrived I was greeted by a deeply grieving husband who mourned the very recent loss of his soul mate and partner in ministries.
But there was one thing that I did not observe—regrets.
Four years ago this week Miriam started down a long tough path of constant sickness and struggle. Her triple whammy of suffering a heart-attack, stroke and Parkinson’s disease left her in constant pain and with physical disabilities that made even the most rudimentary tasks difficult.
Yet through all this she never lost her faithful or gentle Christ-like spirit. If anything, her suffering provided a more poignant backdrop to highlight her indomitable spirit and Christian character. I tip my hat to this dear lady and bid her adieu as she now enters into her rest and the joys of the Lord forever.
Ah but the husband that remains…
As far back as I can remember Vernon has been a bit of a “health nut” and is still in better shape than most men many years his junior. With his health and abilities, Vernon had many options available to him, but when his wife was stricken with her physical difficulties he chose the only option that really mattered—being true to his covenant of marriage.
Brothers and sisters, we have witnessed before us the last several years, a beautiful parable of how Christ loves the Church. I admire and respect Vernon so much for how he made the decision to retire early so that he could take care of his wife. Vernon was a very successful and loved pastor but made the decision to leave all that in order to be her caretaker.
Oh, he has continued to contribute to the work of the Lord in our State and has been faithful to the call of God on his life, but he has not lost sight of his covenant before God with the wife of his youth.
Oh how often I have seen people become so focused on ministry, career, great projects and missions to the neglect of their marriage and family.
Let me remind you, no matter who you are and no matter how important you are and no matter how much your people love you, there is going to come a day when you turn your keys in and another person is going to take your place. Trust me, the church can make it without you. Your people’s love and loyalty can be transferred to another pastor in a matter of just a few days. This doesn’t mean their current love and appreciation is not sincere, this is just the way of life.
But there will be one person who will still be with you when you drive away for the last time. There will still be one person with you the first Sunday you get up and “your pulpit” no longer exists. That one person is your spouse.
Vernon’s example is an inspiration and example to us all. With all our doing and with all our important ministering let’s not forget it will all be over one day and what is going to matter most to you will not be the people waving good-bye but the person sitting beside you holding your hand.
Invest in that relationship now; don’t wait and don’t allow other things and other people to crowd out giving your best to the one that loves you best.
Who knows, you may have the same sad task that Vernon LeBuhn has today—burying your sweetheart and life partner. If that should happen, like him, I pray you be moved deeply by what you have lost, but also like him, that you will also have no regrets.
Rest in peace Miriam till we meet again in a better land; and thanks Vernon for showing us how to live these last four years. You will be in our thoughts and prayers my dear friend and brother.