By Johnathon Goodenow
PEORIA -- Carol Sims shared the experience of losing her father, the Rev. Dr. R. Paul Sims just before Annual Conference last year.
“That day is etched in my memory, she said utilizing the text of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, she reminded those who had gathered to remember clergy, clergy spouses and lay members to annual conference that even if God doesn’t work the way we ask, we are still called to follow.
“He met the Jesus he had known almost all his life,” said Sims of her father, who died on a Sunday morning preparing to attend church. “That morning he met him face-to-face probably before his earthly body hit the floor. Now he worships in the presence of God.”
After his death, Sims struggled to come to terms with how life just went on. “It was astonishing to me the next morning when the sun still came up, traffic passed by on the street, joggers came by, and I wanted to scream. How dare you! Don’t you know what has happened? Don’t you care?” she said of her anguish.
However, Sims was struck by a memory. She remembered traveling by plane to Europe on a trip, but was met by a storm forming at the East coast. Amazingly, her flight still took off with assurance from the pilot that all he had to do was take one turn and fly above the clouds to avoid the powerful winds. It was a shaky start, but the pilot did what he said and as soon as the plane passed above the clouds, the sky was peaceful. The moon shined brightly at them over the water, and the eventual sunrise was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen. The fear and danger of the moment was temporary, and just like the anguish she felt when her father died, joy did come in the morning.
The “morning” might not always be tomorrow, and your suffering may not disappear overnight, but joy will come. “There is no night so dark that morning fails to come,” Sims said.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told King Nebuchhadnezzar had faith that God could save them from the furnace, but they told him that even if God didn’t, they would still never worship another God.
“This was not the hedging of a bet, but an incredible statement of faith,” Sims said. “Even when the vote doesn’t go our way or when someone that we love dies, we worship God anyway. We know that God can change these things, but we are called to love and worship Him regardless of whether we get what we want.
Even Jesus cried out to God when He didn’t get what he wanted at the crucifixion. He cried out that God had forsaken him, but he went ahead and finished the task God had given him anyways. In the face of our disappointments we need to trust and love God because he still cares. “Whatever crisis you’re facing. Whatever crisis the United Methodist church is facing, through it all the son still shines!”