A Glimpse of Eternity

A Glimpse of Eternity

Jun 24, 2013

A Glimpse of Eternity

by Eric Rudert


We at the White Cloud, Mich., Seventh Day Baptist Church lost our beloved pastor, Bernie Wethington, to cancer on March 19, 2013. (See the May 2013 SR obituary.) Please keep his family and our church family in your prayers during this time of transition.


p.11 PBernie at Camp CLR


Bernie was a great leader, challenging us to various needs and ministries in our community, and also to world missions. In and out of the pulpit, he was a big teddy bear when he needed to be, and conversely a bulldog when necessary. (Church members: remember the “We need an elevator” speech in the business meeting? Whew!) He was intelligent and a student of many things, including the Bible. His messages were well prepared, inspiring and thought-provoking.

With this terrible disease rapidly consuming Pastor Bernie, our church was able to have him attend a service on March 2. In many ways, it was a “living funeral,” but also a wonderful time of memories and praise. A reception line (with a basket for cards and notes) followed, but Bernie had to leave due to being so weak. During the service a photo was taken with Bernie looking up with his arms in the air, his fists clenched. It has been labeled, “God wins!”

When I first heard of Bernie’s terminal illness, my original thoughts were “Why?” and “Not fair, God.” On these “Why” issues, our minds “walk around the “block” only to return to the same place. It’s then we realize that God is God, and only He knows and is supposed to know the answers to these questions.

It’s probably human nature to make peace with someone once there’s a terminal illness. Pastor Bernie (“PB”) and I did that. There wasn’t too much baggage or tension between us for the past several years. But, with my duties as moderator and as a trustee, there were a few times we disagreed. I thanked him for the times he rebuked (I love that word) me for the good of our church. After all, Bernie had our church and God’s kingdom as his agenda, vs. mine. In turn, we talked about a few mistakes he had made.

I’ve never been witness to someone so accepting of death, when in a worldly sense it seems untimely. There was much happiness in our talks. There wasn’t a “poor me,” but rather a “bless you”—your family and your business—and well-wishing trend throughout our discussions. Just like in the movie “Forrest Gump” when his mom smiled and said, “It’s my time,” Bernie did the same.

I kind of felt like Mitch Albom during the time he wrote the book Tuesdays with Morrie and wished I could get more time with PB. For some of my questions he simply replied, “I don’t know.” Again, God is God.

We talked about our community, the world we live in, and about our country. Bernie’s big-picture thought process placed all of our lives as just a short time in eternity. We left our closing thoughts on this topic to a concern for our children’s children and our church family.

The most important topic we covered was eternity. His face grimaced as he moved his body to find some comfort from the pain. His voice was weak, his skin was yellowish and gray, but as he looked off into a far away distance, his blue eyes beamed with excitement. “It’s going to be great!”

PB shook his head quickly as if in a trance, then he looked at me with a different smile. He had a glimpse of heaven. It was a unique moment in my life, sort of surreal. It was similar to a special-effects scene in a movie.

To the believer and to the new believer, be assured and comforted. “It’s going to be great!”

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