Two weeks ago, I was heading into church on another beautiful Sunday morning. As the worship songs began to play, I pulled out my phone to mute it, and I opened up Facebook to “check in”and let people know I was feeling blessed to be at church.
As my post cleared, I was about to put my phone away when I saw a post from my cousin Jared, speaking about his Dad, my uncle Mark. I had to read it twice to make sure I understood. As I saw the “RIP” at the end, my heart sank, and I fell to my seat. As I read it again, trying to wrap my head around it, the tears began to fall.
My girlfriend Tonya asked what was going on, I had no words, I just handed her my phone. After the first song it was time for the welcome, and I saw my opportunity and made a break for the door. I was consumed with grief.
As a journalist, when things happen my curiosity takes over and I want answers, but this was a different feeling.
My old friend Art Cobb had followed me out, and prayed with us. I pulled myself together enough to slide back into the service. I sat down in time to hear Pastor Mark Beigle get into his prepared sermon on how when the storms of life come calling, as Christians we need to rely on our Faith in Jesus and His promises. And the darker the storm is when we find out what we really believe.
Sometimes you just have to look to the Heavens say, “I know that was you, God” and give Him a nod for always being on point.
Military and first responders will tell you how they get through the toughest of times is that they rely on their training.
Christian hip hop artist Lecrae says, “when the storm’s brewin’, and when the tide’s high
That’s when I lean into the truth that I abide by.”
I am a member of the Goff Family. Our training that we fall back on is the Word of God.
My Grandfather, Harold Goff preached from the pulpit in churches from Ohio to West Virginia. He raised his seven children on the teachings of Jesus. They went on to raise their kids the same way, and today I watch as my fellow cousins are raising their kids with the same love for God.
I can attest, this family has seen more than it’s share of storms over the years. And in times of trial, we lean on our Faith. It is ingrained in us.
It’s a Goff thing.
So as I reached out to my family on that day, I could not help but rely on my training. I turned to the word for understanding. As I thought of Mark, I thought about what a man’s man he was, but how he was also was a loving man,
I thought of one of my favorite verses. In the past month Pastor Beigle has been going through I Corinthians at Wednesday night prayer meetings. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible.
“Be on the alert, Stand firm in the Faith, Act Like Men, Be Strong” — I Corinthians 16:13
It is a very manly sounding verse. Like a Chuck Knoll or Vince Lombardi halftime speech, it fires you up.
Watch out, be aware of your surroundings. Standing firm, cleats in the ground, gathered together with your brothers in arms, ready for an attack.
Act Like Men — in some translations it says “Be Courageous.” I like that those two phrases are considered synonymous.
Being courageous is not about being fearless. Having fear is part of being human. Being courageous is about having the ability to overcome your fear and do what needs to be done.
Uncle Mark was every bit of that.
I also know that you can’t just cherrypick verses from the Bible to suit you, you have to give it context, and look at the surrounding verses to get the whole story.
In this case you just have to look at the next verse.
“Do All Things in LOVE.” — I Corinthians 16:14
Jesus tells us that if we have Faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. And Paul tells us that if we have Faith that can move mountains, but have not Love, it is useless. We are commanded to prepare for the storms, to be on the alert for attack, but if we act without Love, we are nothing.
Uncle Mark was every bit of that verse too.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean your life is going to be perfect, it means you will be better prepared when the storms come.
I will be traveling to Ohio this weekend, as the Goff family will gathers together at Country View Baptist Church to say our goodbyes (for now) to Mark Goff, beloved son, father, uncle. We will once again weather the storm together. We will fall back on our training. And on the Word of God.
Third Day does a great version of the old Rich Mullins song, “Creed.” The chorus goes, “I believe what I believe in, it’s what makes me what I am.”
As Goffs, that is what we believe.
And we will find God’s Love, Grace, Kindness and Mercy waiting for us, as it always has.