I didn't know the man. I never met him. I don't think I had even read about him. To be honest, I had never even heard of him until yesterday. But, for various reasons, my heart was touched by what took place earlier this week. It's amazing how a tragedy can do that.
By now, you've seen the news stories about the death of Florida pastor Forrest Pollack. He and his son were flying to an engagement in Texas when their small plane crashed. Both were killed in the crash.
A man and his 13-year-old dying is sad. It is heartbreaking. It is difficult to explain. It is hard to make sense of it.
Forrest left behind a wife, five children, other family members, and a church that now is pastorless.
I suppose I relate to this story on many levels. First of all, for twenty years, I was a pastor. I know how I felt when a beloved church member died. My heart was torn, even broken, as I said goodbye to wonderful believers in Jesus Christ. Some of the saddest days in my ministry were those where I stood over a casket at the cemetary and watched as the workers lowered the casket into the grave. I know in the days ahead, the Pollack family will find themselves at a cemetary, saying goodbyes, shedding many, many tears. For that reason I hurt. I hurt knowing the pain death causes--whether that death is "expected" or not.
I also hurt because I too am a father. Just today my daughter had knee surgery. Some months back she injured her knee, which led to her surgery today. It was hard watching the nurses roll her out of the room into surgery. I would have done anything to be the one going into that room, instead of her. However, I couldn't take her place. I hurt for Mrs. Pollack, as she grieves, not only over the loss of her husband but also her child. We all believe that we should never have to bury our child. We are supposed to go first. We are older. We have lived life. We never anticipate the death of a child, especially our own. For that reason, I hurt for the Pollack family today.
I also hurt because a church is pastorless today. Oh, I know it is a large church and they have multiple staff members. Eventually, they will call another pastor and God will bless his ministry into the future. I know that. But, today, the church family is hurting. They have lost a friend, a mentor, a teacher, a scholar, a leader, a pastor. The relationship between a pastor and his church family is one of the most special relationships the world can ever imagine. That is especially true when the pastor loves the people and the people love him. From all indications, Pastor Pollack was loved and he loved his people. For that reason, I hurt for Forrest's church family, as they deal with grief.
While the news of their death was not joyful, the end of the story is--Pastor Forrest Pollack and his son Preston are not lost! We know where they are today! They are with God, walking His golden streets, enjoying their eternity with the Heavenly Father.
So, you see, the plane crash, as terrible as it was and is, the death of a pastor and his son as tragic and hard to swallow as it is, all of that is not the end. You see, the glorious truth of the word of God is that when we belong to God, when we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we belong to God, we are His. And, when the time of death comes, whether it is at 13, 44, or 104, those numbers matter not. What matters is that we are His and He immediately ushers us into our new home!
So, today, I hurt for the Pollack family and their church. However, I also rejoice today in knowing the end was not the end! The end of their life on earth was the beginning of their eternity with God in heaven.
Thank You Lord for this blessed assurance!