We have all heard life is precious and no one soaked up those precious moments more than my friend Philip Meek, the campus pastor at Love & Truth Church in Savannah, TN. “Pastor Philip” and his wife Joyce were solid fixtures at the church each Sunday and Wednesday as they enthusiastically greeted those coming and going through the front doors. He was a loving man, a forgiving man, small in frame – yet a frame large enough to showcase a huge smile and even larger heart. I’m glad he was my pastor; even more so that he was my friend.
At the time of our meeting I had been writing politics for The Christian Post. If you knew Philip at all it was no surprise that talking politics or religion with him was easy – almost as easy as talking Tennessee football or how peaceful the woods were the moments before dawn sitting in a tree stand. The only subjects I suspect he enjoyed more were talking about God’s infinite mercy, Joyce and his 3 wonderful daughters and their families.
The first time I met Philip Meek was in late 2012 as I was transitioning from Franklin, TN, to Memphis, settling for a few months in Savannah. I had attended a nondenominational church and in similar fashion, was looking for a casual atmosphere where the Holy Spirit overwhelmed pretention and the fundamental truth of Scripture superseded a prosperity gospel. Love and Truth Church, along with Philip Meek, fit me to a tee and exceeded its name tenfold. I suspect it was the same for many of you.
Philip Meek was wise beyond his years. Over one of half-dozen or so meals we shared together he opened up about his childhood in Adamsville, TN, and the challenges his early family life dealt him at certain times. He talked openly about strained relationships, how emotional abuse from a loved one could cut to the bone and how the promises at the bottom of a bottle left only emptiness and insecurity.
Then as quickly as you could turn the page Philip’s eyes lit up as he described how God changed his life by extending His grace and mercy, even calling him to full-time ministry. He grinned a little larger when telling how selling Joyce on God’s plan for their ministry took longer. According to Philip, she was apprehensive to the idea of partnering with him in full-time ministry; after all, that’s not what she bought into when they married. But those of us lucky to know both see how God unfolds His perfect plan to those willing to follow, trust and obey. The results of that plan are seen through thousands touched by their partnership and ministry.
Another time over lunch I confided in him my feelings toward a particular situation and how in all honesty, I wanted to take actions that I knew were not in God’s will. In typical “Philip fashion,” he never looked up from his meat and three as I told my story, only saying, “Yeah, I’ve felt the same way before myself. I know just what you’re going through.”
There was no shock or judgment on his part. I suspect he had heard similar, even harder versions of my story from countless others. Lifting his eyes from the plate he looked straight into my soul as if he had been there. Then he began gently talking about God’s overwhelming mercy and desire for us to follow Him, and it was through His promise our hearts could be cleansed and renewed whereby our thoughts would refocus on more endearing actions. I left encouraged and fortunate I had a pastor-friend that had lived through and understood life’s obstacles and rewards.
And when we couldn’t break bread with him he shared his thoughts so genuinely through his daily Facebook posts, each beginning with “Good Morning!” Not only would the “likes” quickly hit triple-digits, the comments from his followers showed how his wisdom and faithfulness gave people hope and encouragement. We could all ask or receive nothing more valuable from a pastor or a friend. He was both. God took him too quickly for us to comprehend or understand why but time we uncover the answer.
Some talk about how wonderful it will be to meet Saint Peter when we make our entry into Heaven. As for me, I want to see Philip Meek with that contagious smile, opening the door and hugging me. “Good morning, I’m glad to see you my friend; love you”
Good morning, Pastor. God is glad to have you home and I look forward to seeing you soon too.