Today's Lectionary Text
Joshua 1:9I’ve commanded you to be brave and strong, haven’t I? Don’t be alarmed or terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
During my seven years severing a church in Florida, the Mark Berglund family (wife Ann, children, Allison, Gracie, and Jake) were a part of our congregation. They were a military family and I was honored to journey this life with them, even with all the ups and downs. Mark was deployed for long periods of time, and it took all of us to help Ann watch Jake while at church. Jake (around 3-4 yrs. old), was “the life” of wherever he was. He did not know a stranger. He was the best greeter for worship! He would stick his hand out, say “good morning, I’m so happy you are here, I’m Jake and what is your name?” And then he would show them to a seat!!
We never knew what Jake had up his sleeve, yet we all knew to be prepared. If he was not following me around on Sunday’s and Wednesday nights, asking “what can I do, what can I do?”, he was chasing me around yelling, “Pastor Hollie, Pastor Hollie, let me say the prayer, let me say the prayer”. One look at that cute little “life of the party”, and I couldn’t help but allow him to pray on Wednesday nights, sometimes. We knew not to allow him to grab a microphone on Sunday!!
I watched Jake grow into a beautiful soul. He never lost his love for Jesus and what it meant to be a disciple. Always had a smile on his face, many times it was a goofy smile, yet it was there. This kid inspired people of all ages!! Never met a stranger.
In 2018, Jake complained of not feeling well. Mark was deployed somewhere, many times we didn’t know where he was stationed at. Ann rushed Jake to the Jacksonville to Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital. It did not take long for the doctor to tell Ann something was terribly wrong and to get Mark home. Jake was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia.
While this news took the wind out of our sails, Jake continued to live by his new motto, “it’s not the amount of time you’re here, but the amount of impact you make during that time”. He became an ambassador. It was never about him, but he gave 100% of being the ambassador for all the other children that were facing terminal diseases.
Holy week of 2020, Jake, at age 15, knew what Easter morning was going to be. He told his family, “losing is not an option, I’m not losing, I’m going to heaven, I’m going to be winning”! Jake was baptized as a small child, yet on Good Friday, he wanted to be baptized again. Jake wanted to publicly profess his faith in Jesus Christ. Holy Saturday was filled with deafening silence, as we thought of Jesus’ week, and as we waited for our daily update from Ann.
At 12:04am, Easter morning, Jake took his final physical breath, and then his first heavenly breath. Jake’s words, “I gave it my all”. Yes you did, buddy.
-Rev. Hollie Tapley
Disaster Response Coordinator
Prayer for Reflection
Father, give us the courage to be brave and strong in whatever we face in life. May we live such a life that our final words will be, “I gave it my all”. Amen.
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