A Saint Heads Home

The man in this picture, Dr. James Gardner,  was my pastor for about 9 years, from my early teens into my twenties.  He pastored a very traditional church in a town in the South.  He was my pastor when I had hair down to my waist and was an unsaved wretch.  

And he showed me Christ.  Not as much in what he spoke from the pulpit, because, sadly, most Sundays I wasn’t listening.  But he showed me Christ in the love he had for me.  In all my sin, in all my stupidity, I never once felt like this man judged me.  He loved me.  He encouraged me.  He urged me to use my life and my gifts for Jesus Christ.  I did not come to a saving knowledge of Christ during a service Dr. Gardner preached, but his life and his love had a huge mark on me.  In a time when many people in the church judged me (or so I thought), he never did.  
He exuded joy to all he met.  You could not meet this man and not be impacted.  He was a giant of a man in both size and heart, and the fact that he is not on this planet anymore is a detriment to us all.
But he’s home, and I rejoice with him!  He suffered from poor health for years, even dying once and coming back to finish what the Lord had begun in him.  I know part of that work was to show the love of Christ to a skinny long-haired goofball drummer.  And I’m so thankful I got the chance to know him.  One day, I’ll tell him in person.  
And when he arrived,  I know the Lord met him with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Master.”  
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