On Sept. 19, 2012, my dad, Larry Wayne Sanders Jr., committed suicide. He was a faithful father, husband, and pastor. Shortly after he died, I was looking through my Facebook correspondence with him and became overwhelmed at the compassionate care he used with me even on social media. Below is a sample of his pastoral care in the last few years of his life.
Jan. 17, 2009: My second semester of college. I was arguing with my dad to justify my Facebook profile photo, and told him how painful it was to see a family photo on his page excluding me.
Life does change fast. Our life is but a vapor. That is why I treasure the time we spent yesterday. If I can influence your life for Christ deeper, if I can strengthen you, if I can continue to teach you about being a real man, I will take what time, travel as far as I need to to do so.
It did hit me that you were not in [the picture]. You being my firstborn, it has been tough on me. Of all the children, I spent tons of time with you. I do not know why time with the girls was harder to find: they were drawn to your Mom; was my ministry demanding more time (remember as well at one point I had 3 positions to make ends meet); and competing with playtime with siblings? That is why I hug the girls now and drive Mikayla to things/let her drive, and take Caitlin hunting/ teach her how to mow the lawn, because I do not ever want them to forget how much I love them.
I did not mean to upset you. The typed word never expresses the spoken word at times. I think your “face in blue retro” is just the right one. It describes your creativity and your ability to make people laugh, among other things.
Never forget that I love you. Never.
April 25, 2009: My dad was offering feedback on a sermon I recently preached. He was also responding to an issue I struggled with at the time as to whether or not pastors should perform weddings for unbelievers.
I looked at 1 Timothy 5:8.
Your message and presentation was very good. I feel bad I even use notes. What is your secret besides prayer and the hand of God?
I got tickled and almost could not quit laughing after your video of “BFF Buddy Jesus” and you made a remark (and now I cannot remember) but my response was “Craig better watch out his BFF Buddy is watching”. If you saw me giggling it was not you.
Regarding marriage of unbelievers to one another, note this from Hebrews.
Heb 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
True, marrying them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is meaningless if they are not living for Him. But at the same time, all people should be made aware that a day is coming when we must give an account to the One before whom our lives are lived out.
The gospel has been presented almost every time I have met with couples. I did what I could do, their decision to accept or reject is now their burden.
I have only had one couple approach me for marriage since I have been here – and they rejected my standard of moving out of the live in situation. They claimed to be believers yet stated it was for financial reasons they did not move out.
Years ago I lovingly confronted a man who had served as a deacon and had a woman living in his house with him – seperate rooms he claimed and he was on heart meds, so nothing could happen – he assured me. (Yeah, right) But I told him that the appearance of evil was sending the wrong message. Within two weeks, she moved out.
Yes, there are some weddings I wish I had not conducted. But at the time, not conducting the wedding made me feel that I would be condoning their sinful choice to continue living together apart from marriage. Yes, lost sinners act very good at being lost sinners.
At this point I cannot think of a comfortable way to conduct a wedding without invoking the Name of the One I serve. So I guess until then weddings for me will have to be believers only, but I would hate to miss the opportunity to lead unbelievers to Christ. So we will see.
Blessings my son,
Craig, your Mom told me you heard back. Send me more info and a link. I know I could Google it, but I want to hear from you. How do you feel about it? Where do you sense the Lord has gifted you? Are you daily in the Word and in prayer?
What do you see down the road as to where God may use these experiences?
With all the love in the world,
July 17, 2010: An invitation to attend to a leadership conference.
Will let you know soon! Thanks son. I love you and I am VERY proud of you.
Aug. 2, 2010: When I briefly questioned believer’s baptism.
So the point is?
I believe baptism is to be by immersion. When one is saved and baptized in the Spirit, it is total, not a little dab here and a little dab there.
True, there are times when a person is physically unable to do so: a handicap, a region of the world (ice, desert), etc, but immersion is baptism. If not someone needs to go back in time and tell Adoniram Judson who worked alongside William Carey, that his decision on the ship ride over to India where he became convinced of immersion was in error.
Sept. 5, 2010: My dad’s encouragement of my work as a sports photographer at WYFF in Greenville, S.C.
The guy that took out that receiver with that hit? Man, that was great. Great shot Craig.
March 11, 2011: My dad and I exchanged blogs after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. This was also three months before my wedding.
Thank you for sending this. I was just getting ready to find some blogs from other Christian leaders. This has been very helpful.
I love you son, and I am very proud of you. I am going to miss your solo trips home. I will treasure every day that we have ever had together. I am looking forward to welcoming you back home with your bride to be.
Love always, Dad
PS If you need my truck to help move stuff, give me some dates so I can best plan to be of any help.
July 26, 2011: My dad was raising support for a mission trip to Egypt.
Would you and Kaitlyn feel offended if I sent you a support letter for my trip to Egypt?
I am coming up with other ideas for raising the funds. Will keep you posted.
I have been trying to put up the link, but having difficulty.
April 1, 2012: My dad was offended by several Facebook posts and tried to delete them. He responded similarly when he often called me for help using the DVD player to watch his favorite movie, Jeremiah Johnson.
It is working now. I am fixing them now. Love you.