Saturday, September 24, 2016

Our Friend Pete

I never knew anyone who disliked Pete Meyer. I met Pete in 1945. I was an incoming freshman at Anderson University and he was a popular outgoing senior. Pete later served with the Board of Church Extension and Home Missions back in the days when we maintained in-house Agency people where pastors could find help they could find nowhere else. I had been in pastoral ministry more than four decades when Pete delivered his personal testimony to Park Place worshippers in Anderson, IN, in the Spring of 1993. His cancer hastened his death Christmas week--the following December 23rd.

Pete’s sister Evelyn came from Sweetwater, TX as did Pete. Their parents were sturdy church-going people and essential to the life of the Church of God in Sweetwater. Wife and I were privileged to stay in their home back in the early fifties—lovely people—mom and pop to many of us who were younger then. They enjoyed the strong leadership of such pastors as Robert E. Bowden and Alta, and Frank Couvisier and Roma Lee.

As young pastors frequently cutting out new ministries, many of us benefited from the devotion, dedication and unique skills of Agency personnel like Pete Meyer. In our desire to be ecclesiastically lean and clean we have ridded ourselves of most such services today and have lost our sense of outreach and missionary direction in the process—an unfortunate calamity that we continually pay for with our lack of direction and staying relevant.

Like other leaders I could name, Pete was not only uniquely skilled, he was also a man of strong spiritual character and disciplined integrity. When finally faced with an incurable cancer, he simply drew closer to the Christ of the Cross and found his answers to life in the power of the resurrection. Following are the printed remarks he delivered that day at Park Place (cf. p20/VC/Apr 1994):

“It is indeed a rare privilege that I have to share with you, my colleagues, and our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I was asked by the staff just this week if I could muster up the courage and the strength—that’s not only just mental strength but physical strength, because the disease is a debilitating disease. It takes a lot of energy just to take care of the daily functions of life.

“What was Easter like last year? In this intervening twelve months, word has come that I have an incurable disease. There is nothing more that can be done, according to four specialists we’ve contacted. That is not to say there is no hope. That is not to say there is no help. So I would say first of all in this particular Holy Week, the difference between this year and last year is that I am much more focused right now than I was a year ago. I seem to focus in on what is real. It seems that God has given me a clarity of mind and of thought to help me realize that some things are not quite as important as I used to think they were. And so I am a little more focused, I think.

“As I study and reflect and listen to radio and television and other ways of communicating, it would seem our world would have us think that our purpose in life is to be a celebrity—to be a superstar. This Easter the power of the resurrection tells me again that this is not why we are here. We are here to be just simple every day, loving people caring for each other.

“That’s the message of Easter. In living out this Easter I have discovered anew that one of life’s most difficult assignments is that of living with uncertainty. It is true I don’t know how long I have to live, but neither do you. Just because I happen to have a disease that doctors have found no cure for, does not mean that there is no cure. There is uncertainty, but the power of the resurrection takes away that uncertainty.

‘In these past few months many of you have been contacting me through letters with your wonderful support, your love, your prayers, and your reassurances. Some of you get down to the very essence of life itself; you’ve been sharing with me some of your fears. I realize I had some fears; we all have fears, but there is a great deal of fear among us. One of the things I would like to say this Easter is that there is an excessive fear of death.

“I’m not running to death; nor, on the other hand am I running away from it. I feel that death ought not to be looked at as my worst enemy. Just reread your Good Friday story. Jesus did not give up, tough the physical pain he had was such that he couldn’t bear it. Jesus turned it over to God.

‘‘So, let’s take a look this morning at this Easter as the power of the resurrection for ourselves and not view death as the worst enemy. It has already been licked once and it can be licked again (If you will pardon a colloquial expression). Hope offers a great power in our search for healing. You do not know, those hundreds of you who have sent cards and letters, the hope you have brought to my life, which in turn has given me the sustenance I have had olive up until this moment.   

“This hope offers great power in our search for healing. I don’t know if my body will ever be healed. That’s not the point to me right now, but I do have the hope that I will be healed in my mind and in my spirit and in my soul. I do have the hope that God will help me be the best person I can be and continue to be the message to others that God intends for me to be. Life/’s miracle to me is kin the hope rather than in the healing.

“This Easter I have discovered something that is not necessarily brand new but I have renewed its acquaintance. There is great power in humor. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the man—the human being—had a lot more fun than a lot of us today who claim to represent him in this life. I think he saw humor in life. He saw the funny things in life. He saw the funny things in life, and humor is a great healer. I thank God for humor and I thank you for sharing your humorous experiences with me.

“The power of the resurrection, the real test, is to leave the future in God’s hands without demanding a detailed road map. That requires much more trust than many of must have. There is the lesson of Easter—the power of the resurrection.

“Let us all ask more for more peace of mind: God, I don’t know about that, but give me peace of mind about my not knowing. There is peace of mind available in that sense. There is hope. God can be trusted. There are no conditions, not even death, that can rob us or have the power to divert us from the path to abundant life. May God make it so in your life.”

From Warner’s World, I am

saying thank you Pete for the lighted torch you held up for us to see and follow ...

we remain better focused in our own spiritual walk as a result … 
*Picture at top shows Jack Barnes (Ft Worth, center) visiting with Rod Bennett (right) and a 3rd unidentified friend in kitchen at former Eastland Camp Inspiration.