The last few years have been particularly rough, with my parent’s memory loss increasing, and taking a more active role in their care has been challenging. But something else profound happened in the last year. Before I tell you about that, let me back up to 2014. My wife and I had left a church where I experienced spiritual abuse. It was a confusing time for me, and I was having a hard time at this church in Southern Idaho, even to the point where it felt like I was losing my Christianity. Whenever any of the pastors who had treated me poorly would preach, I came away not encouraged and helped but more confused. Here were men who held to the same doctrinal convictions as me but did not have the same warm doctrinal practice I had. It was disorienting and difficult. After a conversation with my wife one weekday evening, we resolved to resign from our church membership at this church. We had no idea where we would go and where we would head. But we both knew the Lord was sovereign and that Jesus is our Good Chief Shepherd, and He would lead us.
Around this time, I began to pray that the Lord would send us to pastors and elders who loved the Word and people. Boy, I am telling you, if you will pray that you are about to be amazed at what the Lord is going to do, here is why. Through some friends, we found a medium-sized church in Southern Idaho, and I met one of my closest friends, a man who helped me through what I experienced at the previous church. Then he also helped me deal with my father’s dementia and my mom’s Alzheimer’s. Along the way, he helped me and showed me where I was lacking in my walk with God. He didn’t give up on me. There were many, many tears shed in that office of his in that church. There were also many tears in the text messages I sent him.
When my wife and I moved from Idaho to California, I remember him standing in the garage and the look in his eye, and how I felt at that moment. We had worked together in every way to that point for five years. He had sent me some of the most challenging counseling cases. He sent me to the hospital to visit people in our church, which I so loved. He allowed me to fail, and I knew he would help me when I did and not beat me up. He gave me space to grow but also to be accountable.
Well, I was in California, and it was about the middle of 2018, as I recall. I had been in Southern California now with my wife for about six months, maybe a little more. He texted me to let me know he had a heart attack, and it was serious, but he was okay. They had put a stent in his heart. He ended up okay, and time went on. A few months later, I would see him in person when my wife and I visited family and him in Southern Idaho. It was a great time in Southern Idaho during that visit, and Mike and I had many good conversations.
Fast forward now to 2021. He texted me around August or September last year, letting me know he and his son had been in an accident. He was okay, but it was a serious accident. Thankfully, the Lord had been merciful to all parties involved. Around early October, my dear mentor and his wife contradicted COVID-19. My dear mentor quickly had COVID pneumonia which wasn’t good. While he didn’t keep from me how he was, he also didn’t tell me the full story. He was on his stomach, hooked up to all the machines, and having a hard time. About a week into his hospital visit, he started to get better, and it seemed like he would recover. The damage to his lungs was significant, and he never told me how bad it was. In reflecting on it now, a year later, he was telling me how bad it was at the time without revealing all the fact of what he experienced at that time to me.
The day my dear mentor and adopted big brother Mike Beaudin went to be with the Lord, he had a massive heart attack with blood clots in his brain and leg. They rushed him to surgery and got rid of the clots in his leg but couldn’t get all of them out of his brain. Around 2 pm on the day he died, my wife and I were having lunch, and I said abruptly, “Mike is going to die.” I don’t know how I knew that and I don’t claim to have any special inside information, and my wife immediately said, “Don’t say that,” almost right as the words came out of my mouth. I did say it, though. My wife and I went to our small group at our church here in Southern Oregon, where we live, that same night, and I got back around 10 pm. I called one of the guys from the church we were a member of in Southern Idaho when we got back from our small group, and I asked him if Mike had gone to be with the Lord. He said, “Yes,” and he told me he had heard earlier about his passing that evening. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I let him go to bed.
I say all of this to say something today, and I know this is already a long article. The last year and the previous few years have been challenging. With two parents with growing memory issues is not easy to deal with. Both memory issues are unique. Given my job as an author, writer, editor, podcaster, and speaker, I end up very tired at night. Some people can handle one of those jobs. The Lord has been so gracious to me to enable me to keep up with it all.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about Mike and how the Lord has used him in my life. I know the Lord sent Mike for a season of my life. I know that season is over, and I’m so thankful for it, but dealing with the reality of it is very challenging. The Lord used Mike in so many powerful ways in my life. The Lord’s work in and through Mike will forever mark my life and ministry. At the same time, though, I’ve realized in the past few months that I need to move forward. Moving forward from losing someone who has meant so much to you is not easy. I don’t have a magic formula, and I’m not here to tell you how to deal with your grief from a loved one or someone who has left a significant imprint on your heart and life.
Lately, though, I have been thinking about one big thing. In this world, Jesus says in John 16:33 says this, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” There will be times in our lives that truly try our faith. With that said, James 1:2-4 says to consider these times pure joy, knowing that testing our faith produces steadfastness.
I remember fondly one of my first one-on-one meetings with Mike. When we started going to the church where he pastored, I would interrupt him on Lord’s Day as he talked with others. It became such a habit that he said, “Dave, let’s go play golf,” since he knew I played golf. On the drive to the golf course, he said, “Dave, I need to tell you something,” and he said it in the way that you knew you did something bad, but you also knew that he was going to tell you what it was and talk with you and help you with it. He said, and I’ll never forget on the drive to the golf course in his truck, “Dave, you don’t have a knowledge problem; you have an application problem.” In June of 2012, I had just graduated from seminary with my second Master’s degree, a Master of Divinity. I was very proud of the degree but lacked real maturity. Mike was right, and I didn’t have a knowledge problem. I had an application problem. I had a problem with taking the knowledge I knew and taking it home into my life. I had a problem taking the truth I believed and putting it into practice.
The last year for me hasn’t been easy. There have been so many tears. There have been hard days. There have been days where I’ve been so exhausted from crying and the grief that I haven’t gotten much done. As the months ticked one after another, I knew I would have my second book come out in due course in the Lord’s timing. And I was fervently praying and asking the Lord to help me because I was often so tired that I had difficulty getting much done. I knew I would have to do many interviews, which wouldn’t be easy. I was asking the Lord for His help. He has been so merciful and gracious to give it and to give me opportunities with the book now released to talk about it with others which I’m so thankful for and continue to be.
I’ve also been thinking a lot in the last year about Mike and how the Lord used him in my life. If you’ve ever had someone who has made a big imprint on your life, then you know what I will say is true. There are going to be days when things are hard. Jesus was talking about this in John 16:33, “In this world, you will have tribulation.”
Dear Christian friend, you and I live in a post-Fall world where sin seemingly abounds unabated. But we must also say that we have a sovereign King over all who rules behind the scenes of history, putting into order what seems like chaos and turning it by the hand of Providence from what seems like evil into good for His glory. Many times, since my wife and I moved from Southern California in January of 2021 to Southern Oregon, I wish I had visited Mike in Southern Idaho. There were ample opportunities to do so, but I didn’t take them. I regret that but looking back also, there were so many opportunities that Mike and I talked on a video call or the phone, and we always had deeply meaningful conversations about life and ministry.
I’ll likely never have a dear big brother and mentor like Mike unless the Lord wills. But I’m writing this article because I want to say something else that I’ve been reminded of in recent days and weeks. It’s to be thankful that I had a man like Mike in my life. The Lord used Mike to prepare me for how God might use me in the future. He brings men along like Mike, who are godly and have a lot of life experience in our lives. If you are a lady, that will be a lady who is older and more experienced in life and ministry. For me, it was a man with a great wealth of biblical knowledge and life experience behind him. This is what is so powerful about Titus 2 older men coming alongside younger men and older women coming alongside younger women. It is a beautiful picture of how the generations should interact within the local church.
I’m also thankful that the Lord has used other men in my life. There have been countless men, even before I met Mike, who the Lord used to help me at pivotal times in my life. When I was in high school, men came alongside me and helped me during my parents’ divorce and other issues that arose from it. There have been countless friends who have been a voice of counsel and a help to me.
The last year has not been an easy one for me; it’s been one full of a lot of tears. But I’ve realized amid my tears and weakness, the Lord is good. He sent those men to help me become the man He wants me to become in Christ. I remember a prayer I prayed back in 2005, six months before I met my wife. At that time, I was enslaved to pornography, and after I confessed and repented of my sin, I prayed, “Lord, help me to be the man you want me to be.” The Lord has answered that prayer with a godly wife who loves and treasures Jesus above everything, including me. But that prayer I’ve realized recently has been answered in so many ways, including in this way: It’s been answered in the death of my dear big brother and mentor Mike.
The Lord used Mike to prepare me to be the man the Lord wanted me to become. I’m not a perfect man by any means, and I don’t believe this side of heaven I’ll ever be fully like Jesus, so I’m not saying I am entirely like Jesus. But I am saying that the Lord used Mike to help me get where I am now, where I can be more useful to others, because the Lord used Mike to move me from having what he said was an “application problem.” And the big part of that was learning how to minister to other people. Instead of seeing people as something or someone to receive a theological lecture, I now see these opportunities as an opportunity to minister to them with sound doctrine. The difference is big, and the difference begins with me.
I’ll also be thankful for how the Lord used Mike in my life. There will still be tears shed, and there will be hard days, no doubt. There are going to be times when I’ll go to text him or read old texts from him, which I have on my cell phone. Even so, I remind myself to be thankful. I’m grateful for Mike. I’m thankful for how the Lord used him. There will be tough days ahead, days of tribulation, as Jesus said in John 16:33. This world is not our home. Here on this side of eternity, we are going to shed tears, we are going to suffer, and through it, all Jesus is with us. The Holy Spirit comforts us on our hard days. Our local church will be there, and our fellow church members will walk alongside us. See, we need one another, and we need one another more than we ever imagined.
Life is hard on this side of eternity, and the days are only getting darker and darker. I’m thankful for the life, example, and ministry of my dear big brother and mentor, Mike. He left a big imprint on my heart and life. Even so, I’m now looking forward to how the Lord might use me in the days ahead. I’m praying to that end that I’ll be a useful instrument, that I’ll be a faithful, holy, focused, humble, and teachable instrument useful in the hands of my Lord Jesus. I’m also praying that the Lord might send other men in my life who I might help, as Mike helped me.
The last year has been a time of a lot of prayer, a lot of tears, and a lot of reflection for me. And at the end of the day, I’ve realized I have much to be thankful for. The Lord has given me gifts, talents, and abilities to be used by Him. He has sent me men to help me grow and to help me. I’m so thankful for so many friends who have been listening ear over the past year. Above and beyond those friends, I’m grateful for a wife who loves me so much. She has given herself in every way to be spent for God’s glory and the good of His people.
I wish there were a way to end this already very long article I’ve written, but there’s not because the story is ongoing in my life, and the Lord is at work in me and through me. But I will end by saying that you will have rough days. Some of those days, you are going to cry. Some of those days, you are going to suffer. Some of your days will seem like you didn’t get anything done. There is no such thing as a wasted day. Every day is a gift of God’s grace. Enjoy it. Work hard for God’s glory in whatever you do. If you are a single mom, love your child with the love of the Lord. If you are married and have kids, love your spouse and children. If you are married but don’t have kids love your spouse with the love of Jesus. If you are a church member, love your fellow church members with the love of Jesus. Prize your growth in the grace of God and make it a priority to grow in the grace and knowledge of God revealed in the Word of God.
I’ll always be thankful for my big brother and mentor, Mike. And yet, I’m also grateful for how the Lord is at work in me now and through me. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place in the last year and to say, “It is well with my soul.” With your grief and struggles, it may take a long time to get there. But please don’t ever stop looking to and trusting the Lord as He is revealed in the Word of God. He is always faithful and true and will never leave or forsake you. His promises in His Word are a sure guide.
The Holy Spirit is still aiming to take the Word you read and study and hear preached and to take it home to your heart and life to help you grow to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. Some days will be challenging, but with the Lord at your side and eternity as your ultimate aim, looking forward to receiving the prize for the race you are running now towards the face of Jesus, He will always help you. He is with you. He is with me. He is growing His people in the grace and knowledge of God revealed in the Scriptures. So, as we suffer, grieve, and go through this life, let us look, as the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 12:1-2, to the author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus. He is enough and always will be.
Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, the Church, and sound theology. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, the Host and Producer of Equipping You in Grace Podcast, and is a contributor to and producer of Contending for the Word. He is the author of The Word Explored: The Problem of Biblical Illiteracy and What To Do About It (House to House, 2021) and The Word Matters: Defending Biblical Authority Against the Spirit of the Age (G3 Press, 2022). You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or read his newsletter. Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Dave received his M.A.R. and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.