Last week he was walking through the halls and stopped at my door to say "Goodbye"...the next day he was gone. If you've been around HighPoint Church for a while, you probably had the chance to interact with him. I don't know if he hugged you or high-fived you or fist-bumped you, but I do know he greeted you - it's what he loved to do. Owen Campbell, one of the initial Greeters we had in place, went home to be with The Lord last week. We will miss him!
Over the years, I have met many people who came here and stayed here because they felt at home here the minute they came in here. He had a lot to do with that. Psalm 84 talks about having that kind of heart, where this song is recorded for us as a prayer of longing for the house of The Lord. As you get to the end of the song, there is this climactic moment where the author is filled with joy as he realized his desire to return to the serving in the temple. Here is what he said:
"Better is one day in your courts that a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked..." (Psalm 84:10)
Owen took that seriously, and I think we'd be better if all churches did the same. What if we were so thankful for what He's done that our soul yearned and fainted and longed for being in God's House? What if we knew we found a home for us and for our young because we got to go there to praise Him? What if we grew stronger in our faith and resolve the closer we got to church? What if we knew this is the place we had to get to so we could experience God's protection and favor? What if there was no other place we'd rather be than right here at home in the presence of God? What if we, like Owen, kept showing up every week so we could help everyone else feel welcome here?
I also think there are more "Owens" out there...I think there are more people here at HighPoint who are so grateful that God would accept us and welcome us in that we take every chance we get to help others feel that same Love. And there's one more thing I'm thinking about: I think there are more people who will come to HighPoint that need that kind of welcome.
So now that The Lord has taken him Home to be with Him forever, what will it take for us to step into this role? Here are a few things for us to pray for God to do in our lives this week and in the weeks ahead. As you pray for these things, know that they aren't impossible character traits that can only be developed in seasoned veterans of the faith. These are things that should be happening in the lives of all of us saints of God, who are saved by Jesus and who seek to live holy lives because of that. In order for us to live like that, here are some that come to mind when I remember the example Owen set:
1. Be committed - I'm sure there were some days he didn't feel well, but you'd never know it. I never saw him be rude or get frustrated with people. If he was still alive and in town, he was here greeting people...knowing that he was part of the "starting point" for people's journey of faith here at HighPoint. He loved Jesus and he wanted others to experience that love. And maybe, just maybe, someone will be in Heaven someday because they were welcomed into a building by a friendly man with a great Jamaican accent and an even greater faith.
2. Be compassionate - Treating people well would be easy if we got to pick-and-choose who we greeted. Those we liked got to say, and those we didn't got to go (somewhere else). In all the years I spent with him, I never once heard Owen talk bad about anyone. I watched him give willingly and serve passionately and do all he could to grow spiritually (and to help others do the same). Maybe this was easy because he knew who he wanted them to be like - to be like Christ.
3. Be Christ-like - This one may seem like a given, but have you ever been in a church where people told you they were excited to see but didn't seem like it?!? Either they looked over you or overlooked you or looked down at you or looked past you, but they sure didn't seem like they were looking forward to seeing you. But when we greet people the way Psalm 84 challenges us to do, we know we hold the door open for people to come into the House of Almighty God - where they can meet Him and ask Him to come into their life so that they might never be the same.
For this reason, we ought to take that seriously. These are things we should pray for and strive for, where we ask God to make us more willing and more open to helping people meet Him. Owen lived that way, and his example makes me want to do the same.