A Memoir to Pastor Chuck Smith 10/2/14
As I finish singing my two opening songs, I begin to introduce a man who needs no introduction. The entire congregation packed with people rises to their feet with deafening applause as he slowly but surely makes his way out, overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of all the people. We all sing together “How Great Thou Art” and as I walk off, he jokingly says, “Well, it’s the Beauty and the Beast!” Everyone bursts into laughter (because he’s certainly no beast) and also because of this endearing, Grandfatherly-type humor that we’ve all come to know and cherish over the years. This is one of the few precious memories I have with Pastor Chuck on tour. And while every single place we went greeted him with the same overwhelming reception, it was never the flashy, glittering applause that excited him. If Chuck had it his way, he would probably just sing hymns around the campfire and that would be his perfect idea of a “concert.” While he was never fond of being in the celebrity spotlight, he filled the role of Pastor, Teacher, Father and Grandfather to thousands and was always gracious to everyone who came up to him. He had a unique ability to show the love of Christ to people just through his glowing, warm smile.
I am so thankful for him for so many reasons. He gave me the opportunity to sing and step into my ability as a worship leader at such a young age at Calvary Chapel. We shared a great appreciation for classic music and hymns, and he even put-up with my love for Broadway show tunes at various concerts and events. I remember I once left a pair of pink high heels sitting on stage after singing. I couldn’t find them anywhere and he showed up first thing the next morning carrying them saying, “Do these belong to you?” Seeing Pastor Chuck hold up my pink high-heels is definitely an image that is forever etched in my memory!
If anyone could win award for being short and sweet, it would be Chuck. When I came back to California after a season of performing on the east coast, I was discouraged telling him that I guess I was never meant to make it on Broadway; he replied, “Crystal, you want the narrow way, not the Broad-way.” I thought to myself, wow only Chuck could sum-up God’s entire will for my life in one short sentence! But I have taken that one-liner with me throughout my life. Maybe the Lord doesn’t have Broadway in mind for me, but He does have the narrow way, which leads to abundant life in Him – and He has that in mind for all of us. What a constant encouragement it has been to me through the ups and downs of life. I know I am just one of the many people who have been deeply impacted by Chuck Smith and I feel very blessed to have known him and served under His ministry for the last 10 years. Mike and I were so thankful to be the last wedding he officiated before going home to be with the Lord! I will never forget him choking up and whispering, “Love you Crystal” before saying, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” It was one of my favorite moments of the ceremony. (Although Mike may have felt like Chuck beat him to the punch!) J I often feel like he’s just on vacation and is going to come back at any moment. I suppose that’s normal with any loss…we certainly weren’t made for goodbyes, they are so unnatural for us here on earth. But I KNOW that He is with the Lord along with my Grandparents and so many others, and while no one will ever replace them and we will never stop missing them…it’s so comforting to be certain of where they are, in Heaven with Jesus – having the time of their lives! I can’t wait to lift up my voice with him once again and hit all the high notes perfectly to all our favorite hymns!
Crystal Cooper Amren