Faith and Some Airplanes.

I started thinking about her at 4 a.m. today. Exodus is on her way. She must be at the airport soon, probably for the first time in her life. It’s certainly the first time she’s been on an airplane. Passport in hand, she’ll do a short hop from Monrovia to Ghana. The next leg will take over a half day; leaping the big pond from Ghana to Georgia. One day and two hours from when she boards the plane, Exodus will arrive in Seattle, WA.

It seemed to work out that I would be able to see her tomorrow. I am flying from Seattle to Palm Springs, and there are a bunch of flights I could take later in the day that would allow me to bump my flight long enough to get a glimpse of this weary traveler. After all, it’s been over a year and a half since we first tilled the soil to grow this vision. I want to see our first patient, aka “the Alpha Patient”. I want to see her expression when the nurse that identified her as a potential candidate is there to greet her at Seatac. I want to see her host mom’s expression when she welcomes this stranger into her heart. I want to see my psychologist friend, Dr. Denny, as he melts at the sight of this girl that he is working with to adjust to American culture, and adjust to her physical transformation through skin grafts.

That’s a lot of “I’s”. If the focus is on what the Lord wants, my wants must diminish. It isn’t important for me to be there. Exodus doesn’t even know who I am, so the only reason why I would postpone my flight and wait for her is because that’s what I want to do. I don’t think I will be there tomorrow.

We have church service on Sunday, and I have a God-given and joyful responsibility to be there in time to devote my attention back to my family and my church family.

Long before I knew her name, I had faith that this day would come. My faith is based solely on what God has asked me to do. What he requires of me, I will gladly give. This passage from John where Doubting Didymus (Thomas) requires physical evidence of Christ’s resurrection seems to me to apply:

John 20:26-29  A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

I’ve not seen with mine own eyes what Christ is doing in a 13 year-old girl’s life, but I believe. Please pray with me for a safe journey. For both of us.

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My eulogy for my father, given at his memorial on 1-15-2011

The following is my eulogy, as read word-for-word today at the memorial service for my father, Rex D. Manley.

I looked up the definition of “eulogy” in Wikipedia. If my dad were here, he’d be thinking “wiki-what?” It’s an online encyclopedia. Anyways, the definition of eulogy comes from Greek. It means to share good words. My father deserves many good words; he was a great man.

Rex Duane Manley lived a life of tenacious integrity. I can say without reservation that my dad never lied, cheated or stole from anyone. He was faithful and completely committed to living a life for Christ.

One example of this was in the way he treated people in business. I remember going with my dad to work. Even in my elementary years, people my dad worked with told me what an honest man my dad was. He didn’t spend much time lecturing me about how to live in veracity. He just did it.

Proverbs 4:23-27

Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

My dad did have a habit of fibbing, but it wasn’t what you might think. Some of you may not know the name “Mr. X”. This was the persona that dad created when he gave gifts in secret to people in ministry for Kingdom work. I first met Mr. X when he wrote me a letter in high school for a mission trip. He enclosed $100 to help me in my efforts to travel to Mexico with Northwest Foursquare Church. Mr. X helped a couple more times with mission trips.

Early into my 20’s, he shared with me his secret. He told me that he’d helped many other people, always anonymously. He derived great joy from giving to people, especially in secret. I believe that we are never more like God than when we give, and this action of giving was very much a part of his worship to the Lord. When he told me about Mr. X, he told me about some of the people he had helped, and what types of people he’d like to help. I arranged for some of these gifts.

His favorite gift was to a friend that wanted very badly to travel to Washington D.C. to be a part of a Christian rally. He told me whom he helped, and that after Mr. X passed on, I could reveal my dad’s hidden identity. You know who you are.

My dad had many great attributes. Here are a few of my thoughts that define his character.

I remember when he kissed my mom every day before he went to work

I remember when he spanked me when I needed it, never in anger

I remember when he honored my wife and his daughter and daughters-in-law by taking them all out for dinner around Christmas (I think he just liked all of the attention that these pretty ladies gave him)

I remember when he taught me how to drive

I remember him coordinating our family reunions

I remember at one of these reunions when my aunt Becky told a group of us that he was the dad she never had

I remember how he faithful he raised me in the house of the Lord

I remember how much he could be in the moment with a person, never too busy listen intently and crack a joke when appropriate

I remember how he demonstrated admiration for my mom

I remember how he never stopped doing something just because it was hard

I remember our last conversations were about how he didn’t think he could wait any longer to be with Jesus

On this very patch of earth, exactly 20 years ago, I had a conversation with a youth leader about death. I made the comment that I didn’t think I would cry if my parents died. It was a statement made by a naive 16 year-old who was attempting to work out his theology. At the root of that statement is a belief that God works all things together for good for those who love him, and a knowing that death is an inevitable part of our existence on earth. It is in some ways the best part, as it is the moment in which we pass from sickness, brokenness and fatigue to a complete immersion in God’s glory.

During the last year of my dad’s life he had many, many struggles. There is nothing wrong with my dad now. He’s been healed.

I Corinthians 15:54-55

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

I have since shed a few tears for my father. I don’t think from his Heavenly stance he would even understand why. I’ll have more grief to sort through, and I cannot imagine the struggle that my mom will endure, but I am grateful for the 36 years we’ve known each other.

About two months before my dad’s accident, the Lord called my wife and I to move our family to Southern California. In the midst of our move, I took on two roles that greatly pleased my father. I am now a campus pastor for Desert Foursquare Church, and I am the President of an organization that brings injured or ill children who need surgeries from other countries to the U.S. for surgical procedures.

Each new trip to his bedside brought similar responses, “Hey nurse – let me introduce you to my son the pastor”. Or, “Hey, I found somebody that would want to help you with those kids”. Just a few weeks ago he called me up to give me the number of a doctor that might help with our kids. I stopped writing the phone digits on my notepad when I realized that through his mental haze he could only think of his home number.

That was my dad. Always connecting, relating and encouraging… even to his last breath. He fought to live his purpose in spite of his battered flesh. And now, he’s up there, making new friends, connecting them to the old friends that have preceded him. He is reunited with his parents, his two siblings and many other people he’s shared this world with. I’ll bet that right now he’s trying to convince someone they need a foodbank.

Thank you, Dad. You were a great man.