I love to preach every Sunday, but I especially love to preach about the cross and the resurrection at Easter.
At Easter, I proclaim that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and give us a way to forgiveness and heaven. Yet, He didn’t stay in the grave. Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave! The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive. He lives!
Easter is a gamechanger because Jesus’ resurrection is a life changer! The power of the resurrection certainly changed Buddy Smith’s life. Buddy joined our church in March 2014. He was struggling. Alcohol abuse had taken its toll.
He had already come to a crisis point when he began attending the previous November. He loved his beer, but he loved his family more. Thus, he made a courageous decision to enter rehab. He was determined to get his life back on track. I remember his showing me a medallion commemorating the number of days he had managed without taking a drink. He was making great progress.
From that night in 2013 when he checked into rehab until the moment he left this earth, March 9, 2018, Buddy never took another drink of alcohol.
Buddy began attending our Wednesday night Bible study along with Sunday morning small group Bible study. He sat quietly for a long time, but then started asking questions. Then he began contributing to the discussion.
He regularly attended worship, then started participating in a Thursday night men’s Bible study. He demonstrated a great hunger for God’s Word. He wasn’t perfect, but he was eager to learn and grow closer to Jesus. He knew he had a lot of people praying and pulling for him.
For two and half years, Buddy struggled with his health. Fluid would build-up, then he’d have a hard time breathing, and he’d finally go to the emergency department to get some relief. Often, he would spend several days in the hospital. Eventually, the cycle would repeat. Fluid, ER visit, hospital stay, medicines and finally, temporary relief. Through it all, Buddy pressed on and stayed faithful. He loved his family, his church family, his Bible study class, his pastor and staff, and he loved Jesus.
Buddy got sick again and made another courageous decision. The doctor told him he had two choices: He could go into the hospital once again and have the fluid removed, or he could go home and choose home hospice. Buddy was tired, and he choose to go home. He said, “I’m going home to meet Jesus.”
As Buddy started growing spiritually, two of our men especially poured into his life and became spiritual mentors. Hardly a day went by that Buddy didn’t call his Sunday School teacher and ask a question about a specific scripture he was reading. Along with a thirst for God, Buddy’s life was filled with joy and peace.
On Sunday, March 4, 2018, the choir was entering the choir loft as worship started, and I looked up and saw Matt, Buddy’s son, pushing Buddy in a wheelchair across the balcony. Buddy made it to the Bible study hour but didn’t have the energy to stay for worship. I was deeply touched as I realized how much effort it took for Buddy to get there.
Our ministers visited Buddy the next day, and I commended Buddy for making it to the Bible study time. Buddy said, “I wanted to get to my class one more time.” He told his son the day before, “If I have the energy to go to doctors, I have the energy to go to church.”
That was his last time. Buddy shared with us that he was so excited to meet Jesus and go to heaven. He had a peace that can only come from being right with God. He had a faith that only comes from intentionally walking with God.
Buddy came to Jesus, and Jesus made a powerful transformation in his life. Jesus can change your life, too. What happened on Easter changes everything.
Bring someone to church Easter Sunday. It may change his or her life.