Today being a Labor Day and also being part of the week that we celebrate and mourn together the life of Brother Crenshaw made me think about his love for his labor.
Many of us enjoy our labor. But fewer of us are lucky enough to have a job that we truly love. I think that Brother Crenshaw not only enjoyed his work, but he loved his labor. He saw the importance of following God and teaching others to do the same and he had the great honor of doing that for many, many years.
Evangelist just isn’t a big enough title for the work that he did. Preacher, pastor, friend, leader, teacher, motivator, encourager, patriarch, father, husband, uncle, pawpaw, and so many more are the titles that were used for him.
I think it’s pretty normal to think about the past times we’ve had with someone when they pass away. That’s what I’ve been doing over the last week since I received the news that his time here on earth had finished.
First I knew him through his daughter. We met during our college years and became friends and roommates. I may not have known it at the time but I think much of her excellent work ethic was inspired by him. In the same way he tirelessly studied the Bible before sharing it with us, she focused on her studies and learned the material well. Whatever she was tasked with doing, not only did she do, but she did it well. I’m thinking much of that persistence came from observing him as she grew up.
Next I met him a handful of times as he visited her in California and then at her wedding. Though those times passed very quickly there was no mistaking his love for family. I could easily see it.
Then I moved to Oklahoma as a newlywed and worshipped with him at the Northeast Church of Christ. His passion for God’s Word was undeniable. Not only did he know it well, he also explained it well. The energy and passion he shared as he preached was engaging. At times it seemed he had most of the Bible memorized. Yes, he was holding one in his hand, but he sure seemed to just be quoting most of the time. I was encouraged by his obvious love for not only his church, but also for the surrounding area. He was passionate about finding ways to improved the daily lives of people, and he looked for practical ways to help do that.
While in Oklahoma I had the privilege of meeting more of his family. What a blessing! I could see his love of God had permeated his loved ones. The welcoming spirit that Brother Crenshaw shared with so many around the country had been passed on to his loved ones. They too were welcoming, focused on knowing God, and serving Him. It was cool to see his leadership in action both at church and in his family.
Then I had the privilege of reconnection last year after quite awhile apart. The peace that washed over me as I said hello and was welcomed with open arms was a true testament to the power of Christ in him. He lived out the sermons he’d preached about reconciliation, and I and my family benefitted from that living sermon.
Though struggling with significant health issues he built a relationship with my kiddo and loved on both of us. One example of his generosity and love in action: at Charlestons he had ordered salmon and broccoli. When my 4 year old said that she liked salmon, he immediately handed over a piece for her to sample. When she followed that up with “I like broccoli too” another forkful of food came her way. Yes, he shared right off his plate.
So, as I join many who are preparing to attend a wake and funeral services this week, I am thankful to have benefitted so much from this humble servant. I’m thankful for the way he labored and loved.