Dealing with Loss – lessons from the mighty Totara

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Over the last few months a couple of our loved ones have passed away.  I have written these thoughts down in reflection of the loss of our dear Pastor and friend, Pr Ed Gallagher, and Pr Graeme Loftus who mentored and baptised my husband, and then married us.

Some things in life, I just don’t understand.
But in those times of misunderstanding, God says ‘trust me’ through this.
He says ‘when you don’t understand, trust me that I understand, and know the reasons.’
When life gets turbulent, God says ‘I can calm this storm, but if it needs to pass for a while, I will be with you in the storm’.

Why does God take the good people so soon?  We miss them terribly.  We wonder about the amount of good they could have done if God had spared them.  But then I am reminded that this earth is just a short chapter in an everlasting story.  Perspective is everything.  And while it hurts now, we can look forward to ‘forever’ down the track.

As I talk to my 10 year old son about the loss of his mentor, I talk about life eternal.  I talk about that day when the voice of the Lord will shake the chains of death and our loved ones will rise again.  I talk about how it is ok to feel so very sad, and to cry.  I encourage him to re-play memories and talk about the good.  And then as I stand in the moment of my son’s baptism, I cry for many reasons.  I cry for the mentor that should have been standing there with my boy in the waters of baptism.  I cry for my loss, for his loss, for my church’s loss.  I cry for the abundance of other mentors in his life, our lives.  I then cry for the rebirth of my son as he rises from the waters, and am reminded about the physical re-birth when Jesus comes again.  I cry for witnessing my son’s commitment and in that moment recommit myself to God.  For I want to be found in Heaven with those I miss now on earth.

My boy sent a text from my phone to Pr Ed’s phone, a few days before he passed away.  It said ‘Pr Mike is baptising me on the 30th.  I thank you for helping me, you have made a big impact in my life.  God bless you.  Love Daniel ‘.  And the reply he got was ‘Thank you, Daniel!  So happy to have a spare pastor or two keen to bless you in this way.  God be with you, big-time!  You in turn have blessed me’.  Words to treasure.  I am thankful for all the many people that God puts in our lives for a season, and pray that I can be that person to someone as well.

2017-07-01 10.54.01
Pr Ed baptising Elizabeth July 1 2017
Pr Mike and Vincent baptising Daniel in Pr Ed’s place, Dec 30 2017








Totara Peel Forest.jpg

My husband led a worship for some young people recently, where he talked about the mighty Totara trees in our forests.  They take a long time to grow to full size, and are large and strong.  But once they do tower above the rest of the trees, they are mighty in the forest.  Their roots grow deep into the soil, and they are strong and steadfast.  They support other trees and plants, and many life forms in its branches, bark, and forest floor.  We have giants in our lives who are mighty like the Totara.  They are tall, mighty and their roots are deep in the knowledge of Jesus, as they support others in their growth.  Yet even the mighty Totara will fall, and leave in its way a gap in the canopy for other seedlings to take hold and grow.  The blessing of the new gap in the canopy is sunlight that now touches the leaves of tiny seedlings.  They can now take advantage of that and soar in their growth.  The roots of the Totara remain long after the tree is gone, and there is often new growth even from the roots.  When the giants in our lives are gone, there will be new growth here and there for years to come.  Their influence is not forgotten.

Lord, please help us to make the most of today, to love each other big time and find time to show gratitude to You, and each other.  Help us to be a friend and mentor to someone, to be the Totara to someone else.  Give us the courage to share our experiences here on earth, and our faith in You.  


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