It’s 2 o’clock on a Thursday, which means my friend Jack should be pulling into the parking lot and knocking on my office door shortly. He’ll have his pheasant hat on, which I envy, and his Bible in his hand. Folded into that Bible is something from his collection of resources printed off for me to read and consider. We’ll talk about theology, church, marriage, and my walk with God. We laugh, we cry, and we pray.

But today Jack is not coming. His fight has been fought, his race has been run, and he has crossed the finish line into glory. He has taken off his armour, put down his sword, and rests in the presence of the King. Today, tomorrow, and forever he is gathered around the throne of Jesus singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” He is absent from the body and present with the Lord.

And I miss him.

But his witness and testimony to the goodness, faithfulness, and power of God will continue as I keep fighting, keep running, and keep pressing on until I follow him into glory as he followed Christ.

Jack’s friendship was an answer to prayer. When I started working at Bethel in April 2020, I prayed for an older Christian to come alongside me as a mentor in this new pastoral position. I wanted someone who had “been there” to ask questions, to help temper my emotions, and to push and prod me where I needed to be challenged. And God had been preparing an answer to that prayer before I even asked by sending Jack and Mae back to Sault Ste. Marie after many years away. Esther and I will be forever grateful to God for his provision of Jack and Mae to disciple and counsel us in the work God has called us to do at Bethel.

Jack showed me the power and value of being generous with the time God has given me. Even with his busy preaching schedule and treatment regimen, he carved out time each week for me and genuinely looked forward to our chats. I hope I can be as ready and willing to give my time for the young men God puts in my life.

Jack was an example of what trusting God to provide looked like. The life of the itinerant preacher and pastor is not a glamorous one. But time and time again Jack and Mae depended on God to provide for them and the freezer got filled, and the car got fixed, and the bills got paid. Can I resolve to leave my family’s needs in God’s hands rather than my own? Because of Jack’s witness and courage, I want to strive to that end.

Jack also taught me what it means to be resigned to the will of God. If Jack had his way, he would have spent his life sitting on a tractor not standing at the pulpit. But as Proverbs 16:9 reminds us,

“The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Jack did not determine in his heart to spend over half a century preaching and teaching God’s Word, he didn’t even consider that was something he was built for. But the Holy Spirit empowered him beyond his natural abilities to discern, to teach, to preach, and to counsel the people of God well. Countless men, women, boys, and girls over the decades have heard the Gospel from Jack. I pray God will lead me in paths of righteousness and fruitfulness as he did for Jack.

Jack wanted his life to count. He would say the years after his cancer diagnosis were his most fruitful years of ministry. He never gave up accepting preaching engagements, meeting with people, or praying for the people and churches he loved. Even in his final days, he spent much of his time encouraging others to press on toward the goal of Christ. He was an example of hope and trusting in the promise that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.

Weakness is not an attack of the Devil; it is a tool God uses to refine and shape his children into the men and women of faith he desires us to be. I sometimes think that the highest reward is in great accomplishments, using my gifts and talents to glorify God in grand and visible ways. But Jack taught me that true reward is found in faithful endurance as he embraced God’s gift of suffering. Jack took what he was given, the joys and the trials, the strengths and the weaknesses, and multiplied it by God's grace. His fruitfulness in suffering means he heard those much-desired words, 

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
– Matthew 25:21

Jack is joyful in his Master’s presence. I am thankful to God for the time he gave me with my brother Jack. I look forward to eternity when we can talk together again about the depth and height and width and breadth of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Was Jack perfect? Probably not, but his flaws and sins were not on display to me.

Jack would probably be uncomfortable with how much I am talking about him in this post, and I truly do give God all the glory for the life and witness of Jack Correll. I pray God will raise up such examples in every generation and church to shepherd the people of God until Jesus returns.

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