We learned today that Charles Siburt’s three year fight with IgM Multiple Myeloma ended this morning. We pray God’s healing for his family and strength and peace for all those who know and love them. I am deeply grateful for his life.
I’m joining many folks who are praying for Dr. Charles Siburt and his family today. I never had Dr. Siburt for class, but the Siburts were family friends, and I loved them because we always had. I started my very un-illustrious career as an ACU grad student as a TA for his Freshman Bible classes. There’s a great story in that about a truthful word that helped me grow up a bit, but I’ll tell it later. There are a hundred golden sayings of his I’ve heard and heard repeated that I’m glad somebody’s been writing down. Like many, though, I’ll express my deepest gratitude for who he was out of the classroom.
When I was in High School, I remember coming home from camp to the news that our preacher had been fired. It was the surest, quickest end to a mountaintop experience I recall. With nothing but a warm faith in the folks that led me to believe there was a God who loved me, I found it baffling that a church would make a decision like this.
The rest of that summer, and until our preaching minister was replaced, Charlie drove in regularly to preach for us. I guess it was Sunday nights. There’s a wide appreciation for the gracious, deep, pastoral heft of Charles Siburt’s voice. I don’t remember the things he said (how many sermons do we remember?), but I remember two things: that every time he stood to speak, his first words with us brought us to prayer together; and the ministry of that voice to us.
I was, and we were, torn by disagreement, disappointment, and disillusionment in the wake of losing our spiritual team leader. I was, and maybe we were, uncertain and untrusting, of one another and maybe of God, and maybe of ourselves. Charles didn’t come with a quick fix or 10 steps to success or a pull yourself together message, he invited us into that voice of prayer; a sure, steady, trusting, ready voice that brought us before God, just as we were, and just as we needed to be.
I don’t trust my memory to represent the whole people of that group during that time, but when I look back at what was a fragile period of faith for me, I think of the sound of Charlie Siburt praying. When I encounter hurt people and churches now, I often think of that voice.
In the ministry that Dr. Siburt has had with so many churches over the years, I imagine there are many who share the sense that I have, that the voice of Charlie Siburt is the sound of healing to come in the midst of hard work.
There’s a personal joy in every time I get to see Charlie and Judy, and a deep gratitude for the encouragement and strength they give in every encounter. I am grateful for this family, and join with so many blessed and thankful for who he is and what he’s given, and we come with his voice in our memory to pray strength for the hard work, and the healing they ask for now.
God bless Charlie, Judy, John and Ben. In Jesus name.