"Father, forgive us where we have sinned. And..."

And, I knew what was coming next. Ed finishes every prayer the same--almost always. The few times he hasn't closed his prayer as normal, I have almost felt as though I was being robbed of something. How silly is that? Something about the way Ed prays touches my heart deeply. Something about the way Ed lives causes me often to stop and think, and to reflect. I enjoy the times I get to meet with him, and look forward to getting to hear anything he has to say. And I always wait with great anticipation, the closing of his prayers, "...forgive us where we have sinned. And bring us joy in the morning."

I have heard a lot of people end their prayers each time as the time before. If that was all there was to it, I suppose I would not take such notice of Ed's closing. But Ed's words are not just words. There is always such heart and soul and genuineness to what he says. Anyone who knows him, pretty much would agree, that with Ed, "What you see is what you get." Whether he is speaking in front of the church, praying, or just having casual conversation, Ed is always Ed--nothing more--nothing less. He is humble, wise, and Christ-like. To call him caring is an understatement, as far as I'm concerned.

I've met others of similar humble demeanor. Like Ed, there is something about them that stirs the hearts in the rest of us. Something in their eyes that tells of storms they have weathered, and yet they seem shrouded in the peace of God.

In 1 Peter 1, Peter encourages, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV).

Ed has seen many storms. He lost his wife not so many years ago. He is older and has a hard time getting around. He suffers from diabetes and has lost most of his vision. He has faced numerous pains and trials beyond that which I will go into here. But he still serves God to the best of his ability, and his heart aches to continue to do so. Though he sometimes feels helpless, or useless, he continues to help so many of his church family. He doesn't realize just how great an inspiration he, and others just like him, can be to the rest of us. But God does -- and God works through Ed in ways that Ed is not even aware.

In the book of Romans, Paul writes: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18 NIV).

Ed told me that he once heard someone close a prayer as he does now--asking God to "bring us joy in the morning. He liked it so much he decided to steal it for himself.

As I think about it, I think I may have to steal it for myself as well someday. For now, I would be content to see inside myself a humble, loving heart like the one Christ has grown in Ed. Though I'd be lying if I said I want to endure the same hardships he has endured to get there. Yet all in all, I know we will all endure trials of our own. We each will need to suffer grief so that our "faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine..." There is no question in my mind that God will complete in us His perfect work--that He will humble us, and use us to impact others just as He has used Ed in my life. And as we go, it is my prayer that our wonderful God will accomplish His will in us--that He will forgive us where we have sinned--and that He will always and forever bring us joy in the morning.