In Memory of DAG

Less than two weeks ago, I heard the devastating news that my first pastor, David A. George - who signed many of his notes and memos as DAG - had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Then at an appointment on September 9, the doctors confirmed for David and his beloved family that nothing could be done, medically-speaking; none of the medical professionals involved in David's case had ever seen such an incredibly aggressive tumor. But it seems that news - knowing there would be no point in suffering through painful medical treatments - was what David needed because his anxiety evaporated that day. And then, on the afternoon of September 11, the physical pain he'd been enduring stopped as well, and his wife and children were able to sing and pray over him. Shortly thereafter, he was gone - at Home with his Lord.

David was instrumental in my faith journey. Here's what I wrote on the tribute page that has been set up in his honor:
When I was a messed up, confused, angry 18-year old, two friends invited me to come to a Sunday night service at New Hope Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I agreed because it was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and, even though I was an avowed atheist, I knew even then that abortion was wrong. So I went, as long as my friends could promise me there wouldn't be "too much God-stuff" during the "meeting." 
In the Lord's sovereignty, that evening was a regular Sunday night service at the church with some emphasis on the pro-life issue, of course. But that's not what I remember from that night. No, what I remember is that there was something markedly "different" about the preacher - David George. He spoke with such conviction and clarity - and yet with such love and grace as well - and I knew I'd heard from God through that pastor that night. I remember thinking, "I want what he has." 
Just a few weeks later - after a bit more searching and an event that caused me to realize God was very clearly pursuing me - I gave my life to Jesus Christ and began attending that church. And I can honestly say that, though I've been privileged to sit under some other very good preachers since, David's teaching - which grounded me in the faith - was the most solid, consistent, "meaty" instruction (Hebrews 5.11-14) I have yet received to this day...all delivered in the context of real relationship and genuine care. 
My husband - one of those friends who'd first invited me to the church - and I did our premarital counseling with David just about three years after I came to faith, just before God moved him to plant a new church in northern California. Sadly, we did not have the joy of having him marry us; his fine associate pastor did so in David's stead. However, many years later, we are together and strong and raising our daughters for the Lord...and that would not have happened if David were not there in that pulpit that Sunday night one January long ago. 
Many years later, people from Green Bay still speak of David's legacy in their lives. And it's become evident to me from reading posts on the tribute page that he continued on as God's faithful servant all the days of his life. It's also clear that he continued to be the devoted husband and father I knew him to be. I can imagine him as a doting grandfather to his eight grandkids as well; what blessed children they are for having known him!

The tragedy of a Christ-follower's passage from this life is not that he has died; after all, we know that he has actually simply gone from this life to the next and that he is now reveling in the glory of the Lord he served so well here. And we can also acknowledge our trust in God's perfect timing for everything - even something like this. So our grief is for ourselves - most especially for David's family but also for all who had the privilege of knowing him on this journey - in feeling that he was taken from us too suddenly and too soon.

However, we also know we'll see him again. In fact, what David told his family on Wednesday afternoon is the truth: "It's not the end of the world. We're waiting for the world that is to come. I'm just going there sooner."

David's favorite psalm - so fitting for him -
which some friends also set to music this week in his honor:


Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

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