“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15 NIV)
Late last Friday, March 11, 2011, we got word that Jim Maher, an amazing man of God and friend of our Bridgewood church family was killed in a motorcycle accident. As a leader from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Jim was a member of our church advisory board and frequent minister in our midst. The news of Jim’s death hit those of us who knew him very hard. We grieve and pray for God’s comfort and strength his wife Elizabeth, their children, grandchildren and extended family.
The verse above from Psalm 116 offers us a viewpoint of death that is both unusual and insightful. We are told by the psalmist that the death of a godly man or woman is something God regards as precious. In fact, the Hebrew word from which precious comes is also translated splendid or weighty. However, an untimely death like Jim’s is not something we would consider precious. To the contrary, at least from our vantage point, such a death seems to be the very opposite, a senseless waste. And it can engender an almost endless string of unanswered questions spinning uncontrollably from the central question “Why?”
So there you have it – two perspectives, one from heaven’s eyes and one from human eyes. Seeking to see things from God’s perspective lifts us into to realm of eternity and frees us from the limitations of human perception and rationale.
So how could Jim’s homegoing be precious to God and thereby also precious to us?
1. “And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4) Jim is like Abel, referred to in this verse. His message and ministry do not cease with his homegoing. First and foremost, Jim’s life and legacy will live on through his wife Elizabeth and their offspring, daughter Rebekah and grandson Daniel (2), and their son Ruben with his wife Alison and grandchildren Kaitlyn (7) and Ethan (3).
And beyond that Jim will continue to deeply impact lives by the Holy Spirit through the legacy he leaves as a gifted worshipper, leader, teacher, pastor, minister and author. His audio and video recordings and his writings will continue to speak to us and generations to come while bearing fruit until Jesus comes. He was the author of several very impacting books including “As Storm Clouds Gather” (about the call upon the Gentile church as it relates to Israel), “The Coming Kingdom” (an overview of end-time events) and the “Watchman Prayer Guide” which has transformed our prayer life at Bridgewood. That is precious in God’s sight and should be precious in ours.
2. “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2 NIV) Jim’s death can also be precious to us if we take to heart the brevity and uncertainty of life. Jim made his life count for God. His all consuming passion for God and the things that move God’s heart made it easy for him to put God first in his life. And that is what Jim did. It was inspirational and a gift God gave to us through him.
I believe Jim was one of those rare individuals who literally lived every day for Jesus, as if it were his last. His life and death beckon us to do the same. We do not know what tomorrow will bring and so we must bring our very best to God today.
My friend Tim Roehl, a fellow Bridgewood advisory board member of Jim’s wrote this when he heard the news. “Only the Lord knows our days…so every one is precious!”
Please feel free to share any remembrances of Jim. His funeral was on Wednesday, March 16, in Kansas City at the International House of Prayer 12444 Grandview Road, Grandview MO 64137. www.ihop.org
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