Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"I'm Ready!"

Dr Ted S. Rendall, along with his lovely, engaging wife, Hester, made the arduous journey from Memphis, Tennessee, to Three Hills, Alberta, for Brian's final send-off. They arrived in time for dinner with their family on Monday evening, and they had a flight out of Calgary at 6:00 pm on Tuesday. Their daunting flight plan home was this: Calgary to Las Vegas; Vegas to Atlanta; Atlanta to Memphis. They would be travelling all night, but they had to get home because Ted was teaching a class on Wednesday.

When I expressed admiration to Hester for the enormous effort it had taken them to be able to be at the funeral, she replied very simply, "A promise made is a promise kept." Years ago, they had promised Brian and Char that Ted would speak at his funeral if Brian passed away first. Those were the flights they could get at such notice. Here they were.

Char had shared a little bit of Brian's last Saturday evening with Ted. She and Rebecca, along with some of Brian's closest friends, were in his room when he asked Char to read Scripture. She asked him what he would like to hear, and he responded, "Psalm 23." Here is the full text of this short but powerful Psalm, in the timeless poetry of the old King James version of the Bible:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Char told Ted how Brian was saying the word Amen ... Amen ... as the Psalm was spoken. Then at its conclusion he said, "I'm ready."

Ted took these words as the title for his sermon.

He said there were six texts he would like to expand on briefly. Each of them talks about being ready for something. And with each one, you could hold Brian up to the test and see that he was indeed ready.

  1. Ready to Give A Defence: 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 15 says this: "... be ready always to give an answer to anyone that asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you ..." Brian was born again, Ted stated, and that experience brought a thrilling hope to his life. And he was always ready to talk to people who asked him what gave him hope.
  2. Ready to Hear: Ecclesiastes chapter 5 verse 1 says this: "... be more ready to hear ..." This is the mark of a real friend, Ted said. He could share hard matters with Brian and know that he would be heard. He said that Brian was an example of the three-fold virtues listed in the book of James chapter 1 verse 10: "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."
  3. Ready to Every Good Work: Titus chapter 3 verse 1 says this: "... be ready to every good work." As is recounted in the obituary, Ted commented, it is very apparent that Brian performed a variety of good works. He drove for the school when there was a need. He taught - Ted himself was a student in his Hebrew class, along with Miss Dearing (who got an A+, Ted added!). He did the job.
  4. Ready to Preach: Romans chapter 1 verse 15 says this: "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you ..." Although Brian did not do much pastoring, per se, whenever he was given the opportunity, he was willing to preach the Word of God. In addition, he taught the preaching class, and for three or four years he travelled with teams that went out from the school on ministry assignments.
  5. Ready for the Son of Man to Return: Matthew chapter 24 verse 44 says this: "Therefore, be you also ready; for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes." This is a serious one, Ted cautioned. He told a beautiful story of a man (sadly, I don't recall the name) who left his home in Scotland and went on to a great degree of success in America. Before he left, he promised his mother that he would come back to see her. Years went by and he never came, although he would write her and send her wonderful gifts. She would talk to her friends about her son returning; they tried to reason with her, saying that the letters and presents he sent her were in place of his physically coming back. She remained adamant, however: "He said he'd come back himself, and he will." And one day, many years later, he arrived back in his home town and said, "Mother, I'm back!" She had been waiting. Brian was like that mother, Ted, said, waiting for the return of his Lord Jesus.
  6. Ready to Go from This Life to Heaven Itself: In the second book of Timothy chapter 4 verse 6, the apostle Paul says this: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand." Ted could say with confidence, "Dear Brian was ready to die. He had made his peace with God." Ted went on, "This is the challenge Brian would want me to give this afternoon: Are you ready to die?" Someone might say about a person who died suddenly that they didn't have a chance to get ready for their death. In reality they've had their whole lives to get ready for their death! 
And then Ted concluded his sermon with one more verse - "the other side of the coin," he put it. There is one more wonderful instance of someone being ready. Verse 5 of Psalm 86 says this: "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive." Ted encouraged us with these words: "God says to us, 'If you are ready to make peace with Me, I am ready to forgive.' He's ready to give pardon and peace in your heart as you trust Him."

In closing, he recounted the sweet story of the shepherd boy ("There are variations of this story, but I think he was Scottish!") who was caught and perished in a dreadful snowstorm. When they found his body, they saw that he was holding onto his fourth finger. They wondered if there was any significance to the gesture. And then his pastor spoke up.  "I know exactly what that means," he told them. Some time earlier the pastor had taught the class Psalm 23. To make it more personal, the pastor had said to his flock, "Starting with your thumb, count down the first five words of the Psalm. If you can say 'the Lord is my shepherd,' hold onto your fourth finger."

The shepherd boy knew that God was his shepherd; he died with that reassurance.

And Brian, too, died with that reassurance. He asked for Psalm 23 deliberately. He was ready. 


  1. Karyn, you certainly captured the essence of Dr. Rendall's message of comfort and encouragement. Thank you for sharing.... The clear, simple, beautiful words of Psalm 23 are powerful. No wonder Brian wanted this Psalm read.

  2.'s as if I was there personally-while reading this. Thank you sooooo much for sharing.
    Thots & prayers continue for you & your families during this time.

  3. I appreciated your compilation of Mr Rendall’s sermon for Brian Bates. Well spoken and well stated.

  4. How very precious. Ted always knows just how to say things too.

  5. Thanks for blogging this wonderful retelling of Brian's celebration of life. I will now have to contact Dr. Rendall for permission to plagarize his dynamic sermon. Brian and Char ministered to my family and I with great dedication and selflessness following the drama team accident in 1989 at PBI. It was nourishment to my soul to read such a detailed account of this precious man of God's Celebration Service. Blessings...

  6. I considered Brian a great teacher as well as a great friend. My prayers go out for Char and his kids.

  7. How kind for Ted and his wife to fulfill their promise to take part in the funeral even though it was a sacrifice for them. Excellent thoughts.

  8. Thanks for sharing this link....was a blessing!


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