Yesterday we laid to rest a man of God. As people shared about his life, tears fell from my face. Lives completely changed, paths totally altered, and Jesus always glorified were the echoes of every person who spoke of Mike McDaniel and the life he lead. He showed Jesus through the simple things like repairs and mowing, but also in the bigger things like writing life changing curriculum and investing in men and women with the truth of the Gospel message.
He loved his wife well. They sought to honor Jesus with their marriage and spent countless hours together in prayer and bible study. They ministered to women, men and couples; sharing what their life had been before Jesus freed them and they offered grace, hope, and the promise of freedom for those who chose to accept Jesus as their Savior.
Mike was one of those men who the whole room stopped to listen to when he talked because they knew it was important. He had a way with building deep relationships with men and helping them feel empowered and safe to share their struggles. He was good about following up and meeting one on one with people he knew needed that time. He was a true disciple who created more disciples so that they could go and change the world for Jesus.
We all have our struggles, and Mike was no different; but he never let his struggles have the winning punch. Mike was very honest about his past struggles and that is what propelled him forward to keep helping others who struggle with addiction. Addiction ministry is hard, but Mike knew that he had a calling on his life to never back down in trying to help others overcome. He knew that Jesus was the only answer and he had to let others know that there is always hope no matter how bleak life seems to look.
At the end of the service yesterday, a group of men from a recently opened men’s recovery facility sang “Victory in Jesus”, one of Mike’s favorite songs. It wasn’t particularly on key or something I would hear on the radio; but it was one of the most touching renditions I have ever heard. A few men held a hand toward heaven and a tear in their eye. Others glowed with freedom as they sang of Jesus’ victory in their life. These men weren’t just singing, they were sharing, through song, of the life changing power of Jesus as he was loosing the chains of addiction in their lives and ushering them to the throne of grace. These men were a representation of Mike’s life work. He had prayed for this men’s facility to open for a long time and when it opened, he immediately began investing his life into these men, as much as he could, even when he was sick.
“Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever. He sought me, and he bought me, with his redeeming blood. He loved me ‘ere I knew him, and all my love is due him, he plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.” May this be the anthem that we, just like Mike, build our life upon. May Jesus be the life-giving and life-driving force behind every decision we make and every life that we touch. May we, just like Mike, offer all our past baggage over to Jesus and ask him to use it to bring glory to his name. May we pour our lives into others, with nothing holding us back, all for the kingdom’s sake.
The song that Mike’s friend Hal sang, “Give Me Jesus”, keeps replaying in my mind: “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus…Give me Jesus, you can have all this world, just give me Jesus.” That’s what it’s all about. Thank you, Jesus, for Mike’s life; a life well-lived. He sought to honor you and accomplished just that. His memory will forever be held close in our hearts. May he rest in your peaceful embrace in his new heavenly home.