Born to be a father… gone to be with the Lord…



Jeremiah 1:4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.

Jeremiah was a youth when he was called by the Lord to be a prophet to his people. The customary age for a person to function in such a role was 30 years. We don’t know exactly how old Jeremiah was, but he wasn’t yet 30 – or likely even close. But, no matter. When God says you’re a prophet, you’re a prophet.

V.5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”

God had a plan and purpose for Jeremiah, even before his birth. The word in v.5 “consecrated” means “set aside for a holy purpose”. So it is with you and me. God creates us in our mother’s womb with the idea we will be used for God’s purposes in life. Doesn’t matter what qualifications we may or may not have.

This weekend my stepfather Buell Townsend succumbed to a disease which had weakened him for several years. He would have been 86 years old in April. I arrived at my parents’ house late Friday night because he was very close to death. My family and I gathered around his bed. We prayed for him, spoke to him, touched him, wept over him. I anointed him with oil and commended him to the Lord. About four hours later he was gone.

Over the last 36 hours or so I’ve been reflecting on his life and what he meant to me. There’s a lot to say, but one thing is for sure. My stepdad Buell was called of God to be a father to boys. Lots of boys. Some of us were part of his nuclear family. Even that is remarkable because he had no biological children. One of us sons was adopted and two of us were his by marriage. But make no mistake – he was fully our father and we were fully his sons.

Other “sons” of his were boys he coached and mentored over decades of coaching football, basketball, and more. He was simply born to be a father. And having raised three young adult children of my own, I see his impact on my own fatherhood in many ways. Most importantly, he taught me the value of being involved with my children.

Buell knew all about what we were up to growing up. All of us boys were athletes and Buell could regularly be seen at both games and practices. He knew our friends names since they were usually our teammates. He knew the girls we were seeing and even had opinions about them. LOL! He showed me what it looked like to be a husband by the way he treated my mother – with love and respect. Most importantly I always knew I could count on him to stand by me, advocate for me, encourage me when I needed it.

Young men need older men to imitate, to show us what it looks like to be men. My stepdad did that for me, for which I will be eternally grateful. He not only impacted me, but my entire family tree. He was a blessing from God, pure and simple.

And now he has fought the good fight, finished the race, transitioned to his eternal home claiming the promises God made to him through Jesus Christ in his baptism. Wednesday we will gather to say our final goodbyes at his memorial service and burial. I’ve been asked to officiate the services, which I am glad to do. It will not be easy, but it will be my honor. It is a small thing considering all that he gave me over the years.

I will especially miss him during football seasons when we would watch our beloved Texas Longhorns, or during political seasons when we would debate the candidates, or at family gatherings when we would enjoy some good Texas BBQ – which he loved. And, like my stepdad, I too cling to the promises of God in Christ, that when my day comes to be with the Lord my stepdad will be there waiting for me with open arms. And we will be rejoicing continually because, surely in heaven, the Texas Longhorns win the national championship every year!

Lord Jesus, let it be so. Well, maybe not the football part, but everything else. Amen.

4 thoughts on “Born to be a father… gone to be with the Lord…

  1. Lyn Zastrow

    Well said. I heard one message at a funeral a number of years ago (Joe’s brother-in-law) that still follows me to this day – ‘Be the man’. Buell was the man!

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