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A Thanks to Our Educators – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Yes, I am a pastor and preaching God’s Word and writing about spiritual things is what I do.  However, in our community we had a tragedy in the past few weeks that has led me to address something in this article that I think needs to be said.  That is a big “Thank You” to those who teach and administrate in our local school systems. My parents both taught for more than 30 years in Georgia and retired as educators in this State.  I recognize that who I am today is a product of those teachers who poured into my life from kindergarten through doctoral work at seminary. I cannot distinguish the part each one played individually, but I know that together they have greatly shaped who I am.
The tragic and unexpected death of Larry Walker, our Gilmer Middle School Principal, helped remind us of the impact educators have in our lives and it also reminded us of the brevity of life.  I will briefly address both here.
First, would you take time to thank someone who has taught you or your children?  Teachers are often under paid for the investment they make in the lives of our children.  But, it has been my experience that they go into this career not for financial gain, but rather to invest in the lives of others.  Larry Walker did that in Gilmer County.  Teachers care about their students and often go the extra mile to be sure the student is fed, and their needs are being met in many ways.  Throughout our years as adolescents, when we were at our most vulnerable state, when we were still struggling to reconcile ourselves to the real world, there were a few who stood by us and helped us through our moments of uncertainty.  These people can be anyone – a friend, a parent, a sibling, a pastor, a teacher. So, let’s honor our teachers for being a friend, counselor, and mentor.  Thank you for the value you have added to our lives and have challenged us to learn and grow.
Second, with the death of Larry Walker we have been reminded of the brevity of life.  As a pastor, I have been with many people when they died and heard their last words to their family.  I have realized that there are basically 3 things that will matter when we die: our Faith, our Family, and our Friends.
A question asked by one of the great men of the Bible is still asked today all around the world.  Job 14:14 “If a man die shall he live again?” Job asked that question after going through a real marathon of misery.  He thought he was even facing a terminal illness.  Everything that was near and dear to the life of a man, Job found it slipping away.
-He lost his health
-He lost his wealth
-He lost his children
-He lost his friends.
His wife even said to him “why don’t you curse God and die!”  It seems to Job that even God had deserted him at this point.  It is an age-old question.  People for centuries from every corner of the world have grappled with it through philosophy, religion, and rituals.  Man has sought for immortality.
On the 3rdfloor of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky there is something very unusual.  There is the body of a deceased woman lying in a glass box.  She is an Egyptian mummy named Sheret Mehyet, but everybody calls her “Sheri” for short. Sheri was the daughter of an Egyptian priest.  She lived some 2700 years ago during the days of King Hezekiah of Judah and Isaiah the prophet. The Egyptians believed that the spirit could only inhabit a complete body after death;  therefore, embalming became a highly-developed art.  Sheri is a testimony to the skills of Egypt’s ancient morticians.  After almost 3000 years, her teeth, tongue, eyelids, and other body parts remain intact. However, despite their cosmetic skill, those ancient embalmers were as powerless before death as we are.  They could dress it up a bit, but they couldn’t prevent it.
The Bible is clear that “it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment”.  There is no escape from death.  It’s cold hand ultimately knocks at every door.   Years ago, there was a magician by the name of Harry Houdini.  He was known as the great escape artist.  He conquered jails, trunks, chains, handcuffs, but after a lecture on a college campus, a student hit him in the stomach; his appendix ruptured, peritonitis set in, and he died on October 31, 1926.  Even Houdini found that he couldn’t escape death.
Jesus gave us the solution when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  If you have your faith and trust in Jesus, you can die with confidence knowing that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”