The Path Home
Our brother Art Albright went home to be with the Lord last Wednesday after a three-year battle with ALS. He was 56. We join his wife Angie and their son Andre in honoring and grieving the loss of this wonderful man. There will be a memorial service for Art on Saturday, April 9 at 10:30am at the Longview Memorial Park Steele Chapel in Longview, WA. Anyone is welcome to attend and Angie would be very blessed to have members of her church family join them on this important occasion.
The loss of anyone is grievous, but Art’s homegoing is particularly heartbreaking. It’s not just that his life was cut short by 20 years, at least according to our usual expectations, it is the loss of vital opportunities that were dear to his heart.
He married his sweetheart, Angie, when he was 35 and their marriage was characterized by joy and laughter. He longed to grow old with her. God also blessed them with Andre whom they adopted when he was a young boy. Art was absolutely delighted to be Andre’s dad and desperately wanted to be there to shepherd his boy into adulthood.
Art had a big heart for God and regretted not being able to serve him more at the church. Just when he and his family were settling in at Evergreen, he was diagnosed with ALS which cancelled many of the ideas he had for service. Instead, Art became a focal point for ministry, particularly prayer. So many times, we gathered and prayed for Art, pleading with God to miraculously heal his body as a gracious gift to his family and for the glory of his Name! But we did not receive the miracle we asked for.
I am committed to continue asking God for mighty miracles that display his love and power. However, I am also committed to treasuring the grace God gives as we walk the hard path home.
I think of the vow renewal Art and Angie celebrated last September. Guests crowded into their home to share the joy as they cinched their promises tight with radiant faces. I still remember laughing at Art’s impatience to kiss the bride. Art also rejoiced in the growth of Andre these last couple of years. Not only is Andre beginning to look like a man, Art was blessed to see Andre’s character developing admirably along with his relationship with Jesus. Of course he would have liked to be present for more of it, but what he saw was deeply encouraging.
There were many other gifts of mercy along the way, and Angie will gladly share some of them if you get a moment with her. But one of the sweetest was Art’s last evening. He had a sense his time was soon and invited me to come pray with him. Their home was cozy and inviting, and Art was sitting quite comfortably in his special bed. Art was alert and had a good countenance, and although his breathing was very shallow, he was able to share his heart in short little one and two-word phrases. He expressed gratitude, longing, a few regrets, hope and love. We laughed, talked, read Scripture and prayed, and I sensed God’s presence in that hour as tangibly as I have ever experienced it in my life.
The next morning, I received word from Angie that her beloved had gone home. She thanked God for the gift of that final evening and even saw his fingerprints on the date: 3/16. She said, “John 3:16 has a brand new meaning for us.” Indeed. Art’s path home was a hard one, but it was also covered in mercy. God is good.