ORLANDO (FBW)—Mark Matheson, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Windermere, survived ministry burnout, separation from his wife, and finally her death before he finally practiced what he had been preaching for so long.
David Uth, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, introduced Matheson who shared his story of restoration during worship Aug 11.
“How many of you have come in and your life looks just like this?” Uth said, holding up a piece of broken glass. “You’ve come to a great place on a great day, to hear hope and restoration, and the testimony of Mark Matheson.”
Uth, who has been a friend to Matheson through much of the devastation in his life, shared a conversation they had several years ago.
“Dude, I burned out,” Uth recalled Matheson telling him. “I crashed. I hit the wall.”
The senior pastor painted a picture of a fellow pastor who had left the ministry to start his own company, slowly rebuilding his life.
And just when his professional and personal life was on an upswing—and he could finally start to focus on the future—he was blindsided by the unconscionable.
He and his wife Carla were involved in a jarring, head-on collision in July 2012. Matheson, who was driving, was badly injured. Carla died in her husband’s arms.
“The last memory I have of her is holding her in my arms, praying, ‘God no, not this.’ Matheson told those gathered to hear his story.
Preaching from Numbers 13, Matheson said Caleb exhibited the characteristics of courage, humility and faithfulness—those traits he believes are required for creating a solid legacy.
The passage took on a special meaning for Matheson, who said he had never before fully realized how much would be required of him.
“I’ve preached this stuff for 25 years,” Matheson said, “now it’s time for me to live it.”
Matheson looked to Caleb, who the Bible records as being a faithful preacher, even at 85 years of age, as an example of how to pass on a good legacy.
“Caleb showed courage, responded in humility, and recognized God’s choice of Joshua as the leader,” Matheson went on, “God wants us to be faithful. Caleb was.”
Matheson borrowed some of Caleb’s courage when in a courtroom one day he finally came face to face with the 17-year-old who was traveling 60 MPH in a 30 MPH speed zone when he caused the accident.
“He came up to me and said, ‘Mr. Matheson, I’m so sorry. Would you please forgive me?”
On the way home, Matheson said he called his father-in-law. “We’ve got to forgive this kid. That’s what Carla would have done,” he recalled telling him.
Speaking of Jesus on the cross, Matheson said, “We’re Christians. Our flesh is on Calvary. What kind of legacy are you leaving this morning?”
Holding up a blue baton, Matheson said leaving a good legacy is much like passing a baton during a sporting event.
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