“…they visited Phillip… and said, “We would see Jesus” ( John 12:20)
I think the best thing you can say about any Christ-follower is that being done with visiting him, you just want to see Jesus. That is the way of the very best teachers of the Word: they make you hungry for more of Him, you want to go apart yourself, and get out your Bible again. You want to see Jesus. That was how Pastor Phil made you feel. There was no boasting with him, his loveliness was all of the Lord. You could clearly see how he had been with Jesus. He died peacefully last Saturday.
But he died in pieces. The infection fiercely took hold, and was relentless. It took his legs first, and when I heard that, I said to the Lord, “Just leave the rest of him. Please spare his life and leave his fine mind and great heart. Go ahead and take his legs if you must, leave an even more broken vessel, oh, but leave the rest of him here, oh have mercy on your people oh God.”
The Lord paid no heed to my pleas, to my abandonment issues surfacing yet again; He ignored my cries for stability and security, saying tenderly to me “hold lightly to the things you can see, and tightly to the things you can’t'”, as He took Phil to be with Himself. To be with Him in glory, laughing and leaping and praising God face to face, eating the leaves of the trees there that are so much better than insulin.
The tender mercies of the Lord are different than mine. I felt the Lord speak to me the other day that He did leave Phil’s heart and mind. They are impressed upon my own, preserved in the notes I keep of every sermon he preached, that I do look at again and again, tucked in the pages of my Bible. Especially the last sermon he preached four days before they amputated his legs. “Who Do They Say He Is?”, on John 19. Like a man who knew his time was short, he opened with the most important issue of all, the one forever forced on the sin-sick soul in Communion. The bread and the wine were presented, and he reminded us that it is not a table spread before us, but a trial we come to. The question the terrified Pilate asked– “Who are you?”– must be answered by us over and over again. Phil said, “We come to the cross, we smell again, see again, feel the pain again and say, Jesus, don’t let me forget! Who You ARE! You made your way to the Father’s will, you ask us to do the same.”
So will we do these things to remember Him.
I feel the anguish now in those words I quickly scrawled that I did not feel then, but I knew even then a drama was taking place. I have never before taken notes on a communion preamble. I cannot think, as I read those words now, that Phillip Busbee was not unaware of what the Father was asking of Him. He had left the hospital to deliver his message. He was in a wheelchair again. He was weakening again. He captured so movingly the turmoil and chaos of the trial of the Son of Man because I think he knew the verdict of the Father on his own life, and Phil was used to yielding to Him. He was a man who so often was with Jesus, and had learned through the trials of his life to say “yes” to Him. That is why the Son of Man’s Word shone so clearly through him.
So I will follow Phil, the way he followed Christ. The way he led us to Jesus. The way he said, and like his Master, it cost him everything he had to say it, “Not my will, Father, but Your will be done.”
And here is a beautiful song. Worship your King, as Phil does now in glory, and serve Him wholly, as Phil did on earth.