Yesterday a man whom I was privileged to call a friend went home. Charles Butler was called from this life to be in the presence of Jesus Christ, his faithful Lord and Savior. I believe Charles lived on this earth for 87 years. It was but for a time, with much that was good and also with its share of struggles. Charles has left us and is now in his Lord's presence, forever. And much as he loved life here, with his family and friends, the place he is now is his true home.
I didn't meet Charles until fairly late in his life. And I think that by the time I began to consider him a friend the illness that claimed the life of his wife, Marilyn, was already advanced. My perception of his later years was that his greatest loss was his wife and his greatest longing was to see her again, which I have no doubts happened yesterday.
Among my own memories of Charles, the most dear are the ones of the mornings we spent together in prayer. For a number of years we were involved in the leadership of a men's ministry and one of the activities of the ministry was a regular prayer meeting on Wednesday, before work. The number of people present varied but for several years the core of the group was Charles, another man, and myself. As Charles got older we moved the meeting to his home, so that it would be easier for him to attend.
Good prayer meetings begin with scripture. Sometimes one of us would open a Bible and read but often it would be Charles who started us, reciting from memory either Psalm 51:1-12 or Philippians 4:4-7. In the Philippians passage Paul says this:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Today Charles is rejoicing with a gladness that overflows and will never end. The Lord is near to him in a way that I can only imagine. His Savior has been faithful and brought him home, to join in the everlasting praise of His glory.