Saturday, I attended a funeral of an awesome man, Ed Gemmill. He was many things to many people, but to me, he was one of the fathers that the Lord has provided me. He was 94 years old.
I entered into the Kingdom of God in 1996. I was a mature woman, but I was yet a babe in the Lord. I had gone through a recent divorce, and was going through a time of intense healing by the Lord. Less than a year after my divorce, my friend Debbie and I started a home group, and Sam Soleyn and Leo Free provided oversight. Since neither of them lived in Midland, Sam suggested that one of the elders in the city step in and attend. That elder was Ed Gemmill.
God had a plan for me – and that plan so included Ed. Ed brought such a peace with him, wherever he went. Sometimes, his lovely wife Mrs. Bettye would come to home group, and that was always a joyful time, as well. Those two loved on all of each and every one of us at that home group. As far back as I can remember, Ed never missed one night. And Lord knows we needed Ed. The group started with a small cache of people gleaned from a divorce recovery session – so you can only imagine how twisted we all were! We were from all walks of life, all different churches, and I was the only “unchurched” one of the group. Sometimes, there would be 50-60 people there – and it was a varied, diverse group. I had not grown up in church, so I was particularly and perpetually “the wild child” of the group. I routinely questioned most everything, every authority. I can remember meeting Ed set up a meeting with some elders at Carrow’s one day just to let me talk out something I didn’t understand and certainly didn’t agree with – and Ed so totally got what I was saying. In retrospect, I think Ed recognized the leadership gift in me, and encouraged it, and loved me through all my wildness. He knew the Lord would be faithful to gentle me. As I later heard stories about how Ed himself came to the Lord later in his life, I wondered if our respective relationships with the Lord weren’t somewhat similar at their beginning.
One of the most important things Ed taught me was “touch not my anointed.” Probably the second home group meeting that Ed attended, two or three of us had been doing worship for another service, and Ed was with us, wherever we went. At some point, I said something about one of those services, and laughed. I can’t even remember what it was, at this point, but you can bet I made some smart aleck joke about something. In a heartbeat, Ed was by my side, and quietly asked me to go outside to my atrium to visit. He gently talked to me about how, even in jest, that there is life and death in the tongue. I immediately repented, and it’s a lesson I took to heart. So much so, that someone is talking about or mentioning a fellow believer, I kind of cringe inside. I’m prone to say “Watch out, cowboy!” when someone goes there. And that gut check in me is all about Ed, and the lesson he and the Lord taught me that day. And to this day, though we long ago moved out of that townhouse, all of us from that time lovingly call that atrium the “Come to Jesus Room”, because of that day I was corrected by Ed.
When MLH and I met, Ed was always there to watch over us. He loved it when we played and sang. That man so loved to worship his Lord and Savior. As our relationship progressed from friends to dating, different speakers would come through our group to teach, and many of them tried to prophesy Steve and I into marriage. I was like an unbroken filly – nobody was going to throw a rope around my neck and tell me what was going to happen! No way was I going there! And Ed would always smooth everything over. I think he, like many, knew eventually Steve and I would be together. Though Ed remained quiet, in my spirit, I always felt like he was always our champion. He loved both of us, individually, and loved us together, as well.
When we heard Ed passed, MLH told me, “Ed’s passing will leave a huge vacuum in the Kingdom.” MLH says that Ed was intercession – not some form of it, but the very breath of it. Not by any act, or planned thing - but by his very existence, Ed was intercession.
One of my friends was at a meeting with us, and came into a deeper relationship with the Lord because of an interaction with Ed. I think that was what drew my friend to the Lord – he truly saw the Lord Jesus Christ in Ed Gemmill. We all want that – it’s what we all strive for – but Ed –well, he just simply...was.
I know one thing - my early walk in the Lord was lavished with richness…and Ed Gemmill is a huge part of the extravagant love the Lord has showered down upon me.
It was always all about Jesus for Ed. And now, he’s with Jesus – where he always wanted to be. Ed Gemmill is, and will always be, a beautiful man. MLH and I are blessed to have known him.