For many of my music friends, following a long tenured minister would be challenging. Especially if they were still going to be a member of your church. Someone to watch over you, so to speak. Yes, it could cause a challenge for some. But since I had already followed a long tenured minister in my last congregation and had an immense blessing because of it, I was eager to come to First Baptist Temple and serve following the well known and much loved Theiss Jones. It was with great sadness that shortly after I arrived they left town. It was with even greater sadness when Theiss and Suzie returned from ministry in the northeast to find that he was very ill. I will always feel a little cheated that I never got to minister alongside the great man Theiss Jones.
The ministry of Theiss and Suzie Jones was well known in Central Texas and even around the world! As so many have found out, retirement in the ministry doesn’t mean that you actually stop being a minister. Even after Theiss passed away, Suzie was that extraordinary person who ministered to so many. It was who she was. And I was, like so many others, the recipient of that ministry.
Suzie became to me what I missed out on with Theiss. Suzie was a friend. And as friends go, she never lacked for an opinion to share and was ready if you asked. And I asked. When I asked, I learned that she always, yea verily, always had an opinion. There were two things that I learned about Suzie’s opinion. It was always marked with wisdom and always laced with humor. Always. (Did you catch the word always?) I have missed the occasional phone calls. Suzie would call and ask what I was doing for lunch. We met in a restaurant during a challenging time for me. Suzie knew exactly what I needed to hear. Her words of wisdom helped me immensely. Another time I was summoned to her home and picked up Chick-fil-a sandwiches. We sat on her back porch and discussed the future and ministry and friendship and life. Her words were always appropriate, wise and encouraging. She was a rare jewel.
I was very sad when Suzie Jones moved to Arlington. I was grateful, however, that Jan’s parents were there and I knew I would see Suzie again. Jan and I had the opportunity to visit with her several times in Arlington. She was settled, she was happy. I spoke with Suzie just before she left on her last trip. She asked me some pointed questions, then spoke great words of wisdom to me one again. She was that minister and friend up to the very end.
I will deeply miss Suzie. My faith says that I will see her again. I am grateful for Christ and for the promise of eternal life.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will aware to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-9