facebook google linkedin twitter

 

 

the Bible teaching ministry of Sam Gordon

31 years on ... coping with life after death ...

March 1987 is a month which my wife Lois and I will never forget!

A few months earlier in the autumn of 1986 we as a family - Lois, Timothy (our son), and I - moved from a pastoral ministry in a mining community in Ayrshire to take up a new role based in Loughborough, Leics. Those first few months of finding our feet in a totally new situation were challenging, to say the least; however, life was made so much easier because Timothy settled quickly in a new school, making many new friends in the process. Life was never dull with a young teen in the house. Great. We loved it.

Our days were full with all kinds of stuff and we felt fulfilled in the will of God; my preaching ministry around churches in the UK was being blessed of the Lord - we were both hugely encouraged - in fact, as an aside, Timothy, keen to make a few extra pounds in pocket money got a job delivering newspapers to folks in our neighbourhood. He enjoyed it. We were thrilled to see him developing into a well-rounded young man.

It was also a joy for us to see a spiritual spark ignited in his life when he positively responded to the claims of Jesus Christ at a youth meeting in Holywell Free Church. There was something about him and his demeanour that clearly indicated he was living for God in a world where few of his peers showed any interest in eternity and biblical truth. Our prayers, as parents, were being answered in God's way and time. Lois and I pay tribute to God's outrageous grace in his young life.

For me, brought up in a Christian home in Bangor, Co Down, Northern Ireland, the road to faith in the Lord Jesus took many twists and turns. Sure, I knew the gospel inside out, but my personal encounter with God only happened in my mid-teens when the light shone through the darkness. It was Jim Byers, then my pastor, who led me to the Lord on Sunday 11 February 1968 - I remember it well all these years later, such was the colossal change in my sinful, rebellious heart. Thankfully, Jim faithfully discipled me over a period of time and, today, I gladly acknowledge my indebtedness to him for his investment in my life.

Lois and I were married in June 1971 and around 15 months later Timothy, our first and only child, was born - an unforgettable day, in the best sense of that word. Back then we had no idea how things would pan out in his life ... we committed him to the Lord as a very young child and trusted God to watch over him. Our attitude then, and now, is that Father knows best.

After theological seminary, I spent a number of years in pastoral ministry before going into an itinerant ministry. Over the second weekend in March 1987 I was booked to preach at the anniversary services of Bathgate Baptist Church, just off the M8 going west from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I never did get into the pulpit there as I was urgently called back home - the message was relayed to me by the church secretary that Timothy had been rushed, blue lights flashing, to the Leicester Royal Infirmary after a potentially fatal traffic accident.

That was an exhaustingly long, lonely journey - over 300 miles on snow covered roads; it was an emotional roller coaster, as I didn't know what to expect when I would eventually get there in the wee small hours of the Sunday morning. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw in that intensive care unit. To all intents and purposes, Timothy was being kept alive on a life support machine. Lois and I simply clung to each other, our hearts breaking. The next day, Monday 9 March, we gave the consultant the go-ahead to switch off the machine. For us, it was the toughest thing to do, it was also the right thing to do.

Timothy, a few months short of his 15th birthday, was 'at home' with his Lord and Saviour. He was laid to rest on Tuesday 17 March, St Patricks Day.

How did we cope? The reality is, we struggled to come to terms with all that happened. It took many, many months for us to accept that this was all in God's best plan for us as a couple and for him as our son. Down the years since Timothy's homecall, in the best of times and worst of times, we have known a very real sense of divine peace in our hearts and, in other ways, the Lord has wonderfully given to us many tokens of his kindness. Sure, to be honest with you, we still have days of inky black darkness when a host of unanswered questions rise to the surface; there are misty moments when we shed tears because the sore heartache and profound loss is difficult to handle. We miss him so much and we often wonder what he would be doing in terms of career and family, etc. That's normal for every mother and father.

Our story as a couple is summed up in the carefully chosen words engraved on Timothy's headstone, and culled from the writings of Jeremiah: "Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love" (Lamentations 3:32).

31 years on since that life changing moment in our lives, both of us are constantly amazed at the people who have crossed our path - many have helped us in one way or another and we thank God for them; there have been others, I trust, to whom we have been an inspiration and encouragement. My ministry now takes me all over the world in my role as a Bible teacher with Truth for Today; you can check us out online at www.truthfortoday.co.uk and, as a kind of bonus, there is barely a week goes by when I don't have a unique opportunity to share with someone who is passing through something similar to Lois and I. Yes, in God's gracious providence, nothing happens by chance.

If our story does nothing else, I believe it puts the 'amazing' back into God's grace. And, for both of us, our investment in Heaven certainly gives us a different perspective on life - actually, truth be told, we look forward with anticipation to the day when we meet again and, together as a family, we shall worship the Lamb upon the throne.