Remembering Clarence

At this time twenty-one years ago, I was preparing to go to Russia with a group of people I barely knew to minister to a group of people I’d never met. While raising what was, to me, a mind-boggling amount of financial support, I spent a lot of time in prayer with those preparing to go alongside me. We prayed for the money to come, for the red tape to be dissolved, for the Holy Spirit to equip us and for our way to be prepared by His grace. It was a good way to get really connected really quickly.
Once the plane took off toward Russia, I was pretty much immersed in the company of these people I had only briefly known with whom I’d developed a deep spiritual connection. We ranged in age, some of us still in our teens and others up in our 60s.  We’d come from Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Florida and most of us had never been out of the country. It wasn’t long before we were among few others speaking English. It was a great way to get even more acquainted really quickly.
Four weeks is all we had together in Russia. Four weeks to get to know one another–to laugh, to learn, to be patient, to encourage, to serve, to aggravate and to be patient some more. Four weeks.
Aside from the one I married, it has been two decades since I have laid eyes most of the people from that group. Twenty years. Some of us have kept in touch, and some of us have not.  Regardless, those folks hold a special place in my heart.

I received news this morning that the oldest member of our group, Clarence, went Home this morning.  His mind and body had steadily declined in recent years, and he no longer knew all that he had once known or could do all that he once did.  I heard from his faithful wife, Bea, earlier this year, and she said that, in spite of his confusion and lost memory, he still told her he loved her every day.  After more than 60 years of marriage, I’m thankful that some old habits die hard.

My husband has one of Bea’s paintings in his office.  The scene is a bald eagle, wings outstretched, soaring among rocky cliffs.  It is a picture of Isaiah 40:30-31:

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Clarence no longer stumbles.  He will never again fall.  His mind is no longer tired and weary.  He is soaring on wings like only God can grant, and he has never been stronger.
Thank you, Clarence, for running the race God called you to run.  This world was a better place because of you.

Bea, you are in our prayers as you mourn this loss of your life’s partner.  Thank you for setting an example of faithfulness and steadfastness for the rest of us.  You were a safe place for Clarence until the very end…which, as we know, is not really the end.

Come, Lord Jesus!

sunrise

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7 thoughts on “Remembering Clarence

  1. Well said. I was one of the people on that trip. Some of my favorite memories with Clarence/Bea (or as I call them….G’ma Bea and Grandad) were made on that trip.

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  2. Trista, I didn’t know you had a connection with the Herrins. Thank you for these sweet remembrances of Clarence. I was in school at JU with 2 of their daughters and was a Kiamichi mountain kid during in the years he preached at one of the little mountain churches there. Special people, loved & remembered by many. He has simply passed through death’s door, into a whole new, bright and beautiful world with His Lord, Jesus!

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  3. I, too, share these deep feelings of love and respect for these folks we call Clarence and Bea. I spent part of high school….the English teacher couldn’t say Bea’s name correctly…Clarence was in the Navy, Bea and I walked to “the corner” together to ride the 6 miles to high school, and my respect for the love shared by those two people was endless. In the 65 or so years since, our times spent together have been fleeting and seldom.. chance visits beside the freeway near Tulsa…watching a basketball game togather with a little tot who was far too young to eat pop corn…a few days helping a bit at a men’s retreat in the Kiamichi Mts….a few other short times, but always seeing two lives built on total faith in
    God, and that same faith passed to their children, and a passion the the teachings of Jesus Christ were the guidepost of every phase of their lives. Because of having known Bea and Clarence, I am a much richer man, and a better Christian.

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  4. Clarence and Bea! Those words go together like peanut butter and jelly. They have been around a long time and are so important to us , it is hard to think of life, this side of heaven without them. Their love for each other and God has been something many of us have tried to model. The love for their girls through all the good times and the bad have also been something I have tried to model. Their love for their grandchildren was never doubted. They didn’t just go to church, they are the church. When you are with them there were always times of deep fellowship, learning from the Word, pray and remembering and praising God for everything in life. How we love you both. We will see you again Clarence and Bea and family, you are in my prayers for your adjustment in living with Him so far away. He will live always in your hearts and mine.

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