Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Mighty Man

I lost a friend today...Joe Taylor. A tragic accident. Earthly life instantly snuffed out. Lost is a relative term. I know exactly where he is. He is in the presence of the Lord. But he is lost from earth. Thus through tears of grief and joy I write.

To say that Joe is one of the best friends I have ever had is a gross understatement. By the grace of God, Joe entered my life (more accurately, I entered his life) in the Fall of 1981. Janet and I had gone to Eastman, Georgia, along with our baby girl Merea to preach, as they say, “in view of a call” to be the pastor of the First Baptist Church.

It’s strange that I can still remember Joe from that morning, sitting in the section to my right on the second or third row, in what I would come to know as his usual seat. I still remember, 27 years later, his walking up to me after the service and, with the passionate look in his eye that would become all too familiar to me, telling me that I simply must come and be their pastor. Something about him struck a chord with me. It wouldn’t take me long to find out why.

When I think of Joe, I think of David’s “mighty men,” who stood with him in very difficult times—men who were absolutely dependable through thick and thin. That’s what he was to me...a mighty man, a friend who stuck closer than a brother. In the midst of some of the most difficult times of my life, Joe Taylor stood with me, bearing much of the burden, often holding me up, even at great personal cost to himself. Countless times I made the trek to his office at the bank knowing I would come away a stronger man than when I went. I wouldn’t have made it through those years without Joe Taylor.

One of the greatest joys of my life as a pastor was baptizing Joe’s son Vince. I’ll never forget Vince, who was wise way beyond his years, but who was afraid to be baptized, coming to the conclusion that, if Jesus could die on the cross for him, he could take a chance on being baptized. What courage and joy he showed in that simple act. A whole church was blessed by that young life.

Then, joy turned to painful sorrow, as we walked through the valley of the shadow of death together. Vince, who almost died as a very young child from a brain tumor, had the tumor return with a vengeance. He was rushed to the hospital on a Friday morning and on Sunday, while we prayed for him in church, he went to be with the Lord. Losing a child simply has to be the greatest pain a parent can suffer. I watched this man wrestle with God and come out of that valley a stronger man. Yes, his heart was broken, but how true it is that “a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise.”

Through the years, though separated by many miles and many years, the friendship never diminished, though the contacts did. How well I remember the closing words of every conversation, every phone call: "If you need anything, call me." He really meant it. He was that kind of friend. Well, Joe, God knew what I needed. I needed a friend like Joe Taylor. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to God for His gift of this friend to me.

10 comments:

don said...

God bless you Walter.

Don Adam

Allyson said...

I love you Daddy. I wish I could hug you.

Dicky Clark said...

Walter,
That is a great article. I liked the comparison of David's mighty men. Joe was a mighty man in my life. It was good to see you last week.
Dicky Clark

walter price said...

Dicky,

Thanks. Good to hear from you.

Rae Spradley said...

Thank you! Dad sure did love you Walter...I am going to miss him so very much. He was our rock. I would love to see you guys. Give Janet my love.
Rae

Becky Pritchett said...

Dear Bro Walter;
You may not remember me but how well I remember you and your family. What a blessing you were to First Bapt. Church Eastman. Your stay there much too short. Your departure;grieved to this day.
Just wanted to say I read your article about Joe and you described him just as he was. He will be greatly missed but one thing that gives me comfort is knowing that now he has Vince back in his arms.
Thanks for the blessing that you continue to be in our lives even across these miles. Our son,(Stephen) sent me your address and I'm glad he did. Wish you could see what a wonderful young Christian man and devoted father and son he has turned out to be.
I don't know if he told you, but we just lost our X-daughter-in-law,(Donna Peacock Dobson) who was married to Stephen and had a precious daughter (Madison, now 11). It was a tragic loss, the details would take too long. Just please add Madison and her family to your extensive prayer list. Stephen may share his story with you one day. He's always had custody of Madison and I truly belive God put her there for a reason.

May God continue to bless your ministry and your family.

Becky and Ray Pritchett

Kathryn said...

Dear Brother Walter and Janet,

I knew you were here in prayer if not in body. How we love you and to this day miss you.

Joe was a TRUE friend to many including Randall and me.

You know I still remember the first sermon I heard you preach. You spoke on Rahab. Your presence here may have been short but your ministry continues to this day. God used you here in a mighty way as I know HE has and is using you still.

Hug your lovely wife for me and tell her that I love her.

Kathy Lewis

Steve Benfield said...

i have been trying to find and old army buddy for years. his name is raymond l. pritchett from eastman, ga. he served with me in b co. 1/9th inf, 2nd div and i believe his wife's name is becky. if this post was from my friend ray pritchett, please have him contact me at steve@soubblaze.com aka "big duck" thanks!

Becky H. Pritchettsordpallow said...

tried to reply to steve bedfield. postmaster notfied it would not go through. tried several times.

Ray Pritchett

walter said...

Ray & Becky,

Maybe it's a typo. Try @soulblaze.com or something like that.