Ed Bentley was a unique character… an unforgettable person who made a deep impression on many lives over his 99+ years on earth – I am one of them.
When my husband and I joined Wycliffe Australia almost 20 years ago, Ed and his darling wife Laurel were well past the usual age of retirement, but still serving in whatever way they could.
A talented artist and musician, Ed was born with a cleft palate and other difficulties that back in 1918 were life-threatening. Baby Ed was not expected to live past his first birthday. Yet his remarkable life was gently lived out in the presence of God and the people he loved with passion and loyal devotion for almost a century!
When you met Ed, his speech challenges quickly faded into the background as the twinkle in his eye captivated the heart. Both Ed and Laurel made us feel like we were the most important people on the planet when they greeted us – what a rare and priceless gift! You never came away from a conversation with this man without feeling uplifted and encouraged. In fact, Ed’s famous tagline was “BE ENCOURAGED!”
I have been pondering why encouragement was so important to Ed. Why did this godly man who had lived so long on the earth, against all the odds, through all kinds of joys and challenges (including two world wars) realize the necessity for encouragement?
Ed knew first hand how brave we all need to be to live well in this world. He knew for sure that we all need a truckload of courage to survive and to thrive and that there is only one source of authentic courage that makes the grade.
In his lifetime, Ed wrote out thousands of cards with hope-filled Bible verses, ending of course with his famous quote “BE ENCOURAGED”. I have one and will treasure it now that he has passed into eternity and is enjoying his Lord and Saviour, Jesus, face to face as he longed for.
The source of Ed’s courage was most definitely centred around Jesus and His Word. This is why Ed and Laurel became part of the Bible translation movement around the globe – all the love and encouragement they had received was just too good to keep to themselves!
I will especially remember Ed and Laurel for their love and care for us when Bethany was ill and passed away. When they said they were praying for you, they were people of their word and you just knew you were certainly being prayed for!
I want to share with you one more inspirational lesson from Ed to take hold of. The story goes that on his 92nd birthday, Ed was asked how he felt about reaching that ripe old age. His response greatly encourages me and I hope it blesses you too…
“The first 92 years have been a preparation for what God has for me tomorrow… I can’t wait to see what He has for me tomorrow!”
On the eve of my 52nd birthday (just a little spring chicken in Ed’s sparkly eyes), I am challenged by this precious man to view life with the same kind of courage that looks forward with hope and excitement. I am painfully aware that I am totally unable to conjure up the courage I desperately need to live – so I am thankful that I don’t have to! I have the very same resource available to me as Ed. So, filled with the Spirit of God, I too can look to the future with confidence and expectant hope. I too can live courageously in the midst of all kinds of circumstances life may bring.
Our CEO in his speech honoring Ed noted that the word ENCOURAGED starts with an E and ends with a D = ED! What a great way to remember a great saint of the Lord who has gone before us and still cheers us on!
Ed, our heartfelt thanks for leaving us a beautiful example and legacy that points the way to Jesus Christ. There is only one last thing to say as I hear your voice echoing in my head…
Friends, “BE ENCOURAGED!”
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be strong and take courage. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
Used with permission from Ed’s beautiful, courageous Laurel.