Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Steel on Steel


Today I am writing this post on behalf of Derek and myself...in memory of and in honor to our friend Greg Makcen.

It was on this date four years ago that our hearts were deeply grieved and sorrowful to learn that Greg had died. Even though he had been battling a mysterious illness for a time, it still seemed unthinkable that someone so exuberant and full of life would indeed be taken from us. The shock was great.

Death has been a part of my life almost since I can remember. I know, that sounds like a bizarre statement. But most of you know that my dad has worked in the Funeral 'business' for many years. His very livelihood counts on the certainty of death. I have also been acquainted with grief through the loss of loved ones, and friends, some of which were so young to die, by all earthly standards. I guess it is because of this familiarity that I came early on in life to deplore the platitudes and cliches that come along with grief. Not because I think people don't mean well; only that hearing once again that "God needed another flower for His garden, or another 'angel' for His choir" brings me no comfort at all; indeed, it flies in the very face of who I believe God to be. Neither a selfish gardener, nor Choral director. Still, the death of this friend was very hard to accept; it was painful.

But I have digressed. I wanted to share some thoughts about who Greg Makcen was to us. Ten years ago, he was a total stranger! Then we received a call to come and be part of his pastoral staff in the capacity of Music Ministry. When we accepted this call, to join Bro. Greg and his family there in Tuscaloosa, we were new to full-time ministry. And Greg was relatively new to having a "team" to work with. What an adjustment of learning, growing, stretching, accepting, mentoring, leading, and following we encountered! As we felt our way through developing a common philosophy of ministry, there were times of major "discussion" that occurred! Boy, did we go 'round and 'round sometimes (you know, in the sanctified sense :) ) There are a lot of people...even those in places of ministry across the CHM and church world at large...who cannot or will not sustain their friendships through these times of 'sharpening each other like steel on steel.' I guess the greatest thing about our relationship and friendship with Bro. Greg was that it only became stronger and deeper with time. We feel like we grew as people and as Christians for having known him. I'm especially glad that we went back for a visit and enjoyed some precious fellowship together just a few weeks before he died. In our minds, Greg didn't leave behind a legacy that he was this perfect, saintly, have-it-all-together man, but his humanity and his ability to correct course and have a teachable spirit are a HUGE example to us. It is no trite thing when I say that the impact that Greg Makcen left on us was Jurassic in size. The way he viewed people and his intense passion for "right living" (as he would say), and whole-hearted Service to God, has left a mark on our lives and we are forever grateful.


Our memories of our time in Alabama are exceedingly precious to us now. So many fun games played around the table, and stories shared. Greg loved tall tales :)
We miss him, and look forward to seeing him again someday in Heaven. It will be interesting to find out if Greg will really be able to sing now that he's crossed to the other side. Lord knows, he drove us nuts in this world wishing that he could!!!
And, if there's Skip-Bo in Heaven, I fully plan to say "Skip Bro. Greg", just once more...for old times' sake!
We have often laughed at the thought of Greg slipping in to sit on the back pew during his own funeral service. He would have gotten such a kick out of it; all the accolades and well-known preachers on the platform. He would have loved every minute of it!


So, here's to you, Bro. Greg: our friend, our Pastor, co-worker, neighbor, and teacher of hard truths. You are Missed!

I know I have shamelessly used my blog today to vent some very personal thoughts and reflections. I hope you'll forgive it, and understand that this was good therapy. When I'm tempted to feel sorrowful for Greg that his full and exciting life was cut short, Derek reminds me: don't feel sorry for Greg! Feel sorry for us! His journey is over; no more pain, sickness, temptation or trouble. He's arrived: now it behooves us to do the same.

14 comments:

LaDonna said...

What a great tribute! Loved reading your memories of Bro. Greg. It doesn't/didn't seem fair that he had to leave us so soon, but he did make an impact on many people, especially young people. Thanks for posting this.

~Heather~ said...

A very good tribute. I didn't get the privilege to meet him, but remember hearing about his sickness and death and remember PRAYING HARD for his family during that VERY DIFFICULT TIME.
Enjoyed reading what you had to write.
Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for your sweet comment. I'm proud of you for making an apple pie, sounds yummy. I need to make one for Phillip too, HE LOVES my apple pie.
Love ya, Heather =)

Kimberly said...

I know this was a hard experiece for ya'll...and I, too, really detest people trying to put cliched "reasons" to explain things that truly are unexplainable. But good to know that God can redeem anything for His glory. Very well said truths and words of love for this good man. And of course it's true that his struggles are over, but still OK to miss him. Love You!

Marty said...

Beautiful tribute to a very honorable man! Thank you for sharing a reminding me of great memories! Loved talking with you the other day! We have started school and Steven loves his new
"teacher"! Thanks for the encouragement!

jodyj said...

Great tribute to Bro. Greg. He was a great guy!

Kelly S said...

He sounds like a very nice man to know. I didn't know him, but had the privilege of hearing him speak a couple of times. His son used to attend our church and Bro. Stetler asked him to speak a couple of times when he was visiting over Sunday. He was enjoyable to listen to. He seemed to be very genuine and had a great sense of humor.

Charity said...

Has it really been 4 years?! The longest and shortest four years of our lives, it seems. You know what I'm thinking about your post, but I'll say it anyway. It was wonderful. I still miss him so bad sometimes. He always said when Nathan and I had children, he was going to move in with us to watch us ;o) What a mess he was! His singing was... well, you know...but he sure made a JOYFUL noise unto the Lord!! I know he's having a blast right now. I still owe him an apple pie (my last promise to him), and he owes me one game of Rook with no cheating ;o)
Makes heaven sweeter knowing he's there!

Sonja said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for your statements about platitudes. I have come to abhor them in a new way during the last few years. Honesty is a beautiful thing. :)

Making Memories 1999 said...

Thanks for sharing some good thoughts. I didn't know Bro. Makcen, but am thankful for mentor/friends who have helped me in my life journey!!

keri'sworld said...

Great tribute to Bro. Pastor; He thought that was funny, anyway...
Side note... You mentioned 25 days until the big day and said that stressed you out, well, I thought I would throw in that it is actually only 20 days... Stressed does not begin to say how I am feeling!!

Travis Johnson said...

What a touching post. Greg was a good friend and I miss him often.

kayla said...

I know how much you guys loved Bro. Greg, and I am so sorry for your loss.

jenny said...

What heart to share this post, Tara. What a great ministry experience for your family. I did not know him at all but greatly enjoyed reading about him. I hope we are that real with others as we partner in God's kingdom as well.

Tara said...

Thank you all for your kind comments on my reflections of Bro. Greg. I hope it honored his life in some way. Sometimes I am still overwhelmed by the 'shock' of his death all this time later.

You are good friends to comfort and sympathize in the loss of someone many of you didn't know. Thank you!