Reflection. Many of you are aware that just a few weeks ago we celebrated the home-going of my dad, James A. Studstill. It was sudden. Unexpected.
Realization. We were amazed at the number of people who followed on Facebook, called our family, expressed condolences, shared memories and offered support. Thank you. God’s loving mercy was evident, and we could feel the strength from many prayers for our family.
Reverberation. One of the themes we heard over and over again was that Dad had touched the lives of people, as a minister and as a friend, for many, many years. Dad, actively involved in music ministry for over 55 years, was truly a minister of music. At the age of 79 he still sang solos, directed a ladies ensemble and supplied at churches. He and I sang our ‘signature song’, “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” in Tyler, Texas, just a few weeks before his departure! Singing was one of his greatest joys in life.
Role model. I remember times as a young boy when I wanted to get Dad’s attention while he was talking to a church member. My repetitive interruptions of, “Dad!” did not always work, but if I just said, “Bro. Jim?” he never failed to turn and respond! He was focused on the needs of people in his congregation. Even though I remember his recurring attendance at meetings with deacons, committees and musicians, I remember him taking time to be with his family. When he was with us we had his full attention. We knew his priorities: God, family, then everything else.
Responsible. Dad was a minister who used music as his tool, his gift and his opportunity to reach people. He brought out the best in people musically, personally and spiritually. He was creative, flexible and passionate. He loved people and lived to serve people – in the church, community and in his home. He took seriously his calling to minister.
Rational. Dad was not prone to extravagant displays of emotion - except for the crying he and I did at sappy movies! He made conservative decisions, considered the options and did what he felt was best at the time. He never wavered from The Call on his life or the responsibility to provide for his family. He loved people: the ones who were easy to love and those who were, well, should I say “more challenging!” (The little girl comes to mind that would call every Sunday afternoon to see if we were still having youth choir!!! He would always reply, “Yes. Would you like a ride?”) Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Continue serving as long as God gives you breath.
Regrets? No, not really! Life was not perfect, but I know of no regrets in Dad’s life. Mine? Well, I wish I had called more often. I wish the airfare from Florida to Texas had been less expensive. I wish….well, I wish I could still pick up the phone just to talk about nothing in particular. Would I want him back with me now? No, not really. You see, my whole life has revolved around the promise that one day there will be no more tears, no more suffering, and we would worship God perfectly forever! I realize that this is true!
Repetition. The past week the refrain of this gospel song has played over and over in my heart:
Days of darkness still come o’er me, Sorrow’s paths I often tread,
But the Savior still is with me; By His hand I’m safely led.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story Of the Christ who died for me…
God continually reassures me that the trials, tears and troubles of this time are temporary and will one day fade into the refrain, “Holy, holy, holy,” as we worship Him forever in Glory. God is faithful. God is true. God is worthy!
Revealing. One passage of scripture we requested to be read at Dad’s celebration service was Psalm 34:1-8. It begins with, “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” This Psalm reveals the driving force behind the man, James A. Studstill. He spent his life serving God, loving his family and friends and sharing with people the importance of a relationship with God. He encouraged every life he touched to worship God through music! The hymn text we chose as Dad’s epitaph is:
“This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way!”
The Song has not been silenced!
Request. May God continue to raise up men and women who will pick up the refrain and sing His song forever! May we church musicians put less emphasis on [leading worship and more on living worship.] [being a “worship leader” and more on living as a “worshipper”:] Serving, loving, sharing. “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3)
Review. Thank you for allowing me this time of personal privilege as I reminisce over the life I shared with my father. My mentor. My friend. My prayer is that I can learn to be more like Christ because of the example set by my dad. A man who was not perfect, but who loved and lived life as a minister musician…and all-around great man!Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be the Glory!