I had the wonderful opportunity some years ago to meet a gentleman who changed my life. Rev. C. Douglas Pillow ministered to the hearts and souls of the people of Central Virginia for decades. He pastored dozens of churches, led thousands of church services, walked with countless people through their darkest days, and, most importantly, demonstrated to the world a consistent Christian dignity and God-centeredness to which most can only aspire. Rev. Pillow was certainly a man to be admired.
Yet, if Rev. Pillow were to read the words I just wrote, he would balk. He would probably say, "Don't talk about me like that! I was only doing what God called me to do." You see, on top of everything else, Rev. Pillow was a man of acute humility. To meet him was to meet a fellow journeyman...a regular guy with common vernacular and warm spirit. He didn't see himself as a reverend, a leader, an influencer, or a patriarch. He saw himself as an adopted child of God.
And this is what changed my life! I first met Rev. Pillow when I was appointed to pastor Court Street United Methodist Church in Lynchburg, VA, in 2014. By that time retired, Doug (as he wanted me to call him) was one of my parishioners. Always ready to encourage, I could count on him to give me praise after every sermon, even if I knew in my heart it probably wasn't my best effort. His smile was contagious, his handshake firm, and his love genuine. I had learned in the past what humility was, but Doug taught me what humility looked like. This is a lesson I will never forget!
So, you can imagine my heartbreak on Monday when I learned of Doug's passing. Indeed, I'm joined by thousands of folks this week who will mourn the loss of a great pastor, a wonderful father, and a genuine man of God. But we won't grieve for long! When a life is as well lived as that of Doug's, there comes a moment when grief turns to rejoicing and when the soul is comforted by the echo of Christ's affirmation, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
May the Lord bless Doug's wife Eleanor and his family as they suffer their loss, and may we all be in prayer for them. At the same time, let us celebrate what was certainly one of the most beautiful lives any of us have ever seen!
Thank you, Doug! We love you.