So often when someone talks of extended family they are referring to cousins, aunts, uncles, in-laws, etc. We tend not to consider friends as extended family, but in so many cases they are just that. When you have known someone for 30 years, been friends with them, been to dinners, prayed with them, had them preach at relatives funerals, had them marry your children, then I think you become extended family.
Last week we lost a very dear member of our extended family. You see, my husband and I met Thomas Brown and his wife Jean on our wedding day! From that day on, they were members of our family, and I always have felt that they were members of our family. I had the special priviledge of becoming friends with both of their daughters, Vicki and Liz, and later son Paul. As the time passed I met other members of their family and each and every one always treated me as if I had been a member of their family my entire life. I never had anyone in that family treat me with anything less than love, grace, and compassion.
I have learned so much about love and grace and compassion from each and every member of the Brown family. Anytime that you see any of them, be ready because they have a hug ready for you! They are always ready and willing to pray with you, or for you. If you ever had a need in your life, whether for you or a family member, or even just someone you knew, whether it was a physical, mental, or financial need, they were ready to do whatever they could to help.
As owners of the Christian Book & Supply Store in Jasper, I can’t begin to tell you how many Bibles I saw Bro. or Sis. Brown give to whomever the customer might be. Or in many cases, they would hear a story of someone in need, someone struggling and their first response would be to give…whether it was a Bible they would give or some other material item, or even a financial gift, they gave. They gave because they knew that God had already given them so much and they delighted in sharing their blessings. They truly enjoyed helping someone in need and it didn’t matter to them what color someone’s skin was, or where they grew up. It didn’t matter to them what someone’s address was. All that mattered to them was if the person had a need and God led them to help.
You see, unlike so many of us, this family listened to the Holy Spirit. In each and every thing that they did, every decision they made, every gift they gave, they listened to what God told them. They would always pray and listen. So many of us fail to do that and then we wonder why our decisions or our actions don’t go the way we think they should.
We pray, oh BOY do we pray! We ask God to give us this or do that for us. We rarely ask what we can do for someone else or how we can do something for someone else. If we would simply pray with our hearts and ears open, pray humbly, and pray seeking God’s will, we would see that things would turn around and be so much better for all around us.
That is what the Brown family does. When they pray, they trust that God is going to answer. They don’t know if God’s answer is going to be yes, no, or not right now, but they knew WITHOUT A DOUBT that God was going to answer. And they knew that He was going to answer in His own time, not in our time. The faith that family has is so inspiring and encouraging to me.
Oh, they have had their difficulties, their downs and disappointments, but through them all they maintained their faith. They always KNEW that God was going to take care of things. They KNEW that He was going to supply what was needed, open the hearts that they encountered, and they had no doubt that “All things are possible with God.”
And, because of the beautiful and wonderful Brown family, I also know that “With God, all things are possible.” I will always, always love each and every member of that beautiful family, and I am so eternally grateful that God introduced us almost 30 years ago.
Brother Thomas Edgar Brown, Jr., I will always love you and miss you. You now know what a profound affect you have had on my life, on the lives of all my family members, and on the lives of all those you have touched in one way or another. You have had a hand in leading so many to come to know and accept Jesus, too many to count! But God knows, and that is what is important. You are now there in Heaven walking the streets of gold, enjoying reunions with family and friends that have gone before you, but most importantly, you are in the presence of Jesus! I am so thrilled for you! Yes, we miss you here on this cold, hard-hearted earth, but we look forward to the day when we can celebrate with you there with Jesus. Until that time, thank you for being a guardian angel for me, and the many others that you are. We love you so very much!