Last week a faithful servant of God went to his reward. Glen Lockwood had been a Pastor to my family for almost four decades. Other people called him Glen, but I never could. To me, he was always Pastor Lockwood.
In the late seventies my family left the church I’d grown up in up in because the services had become too political. My parents found their way to Gray Road Baptist Church on the south side of Indianapolis, where Glen Lockwood was Pastor. It wasn’t long until they’d made Gray Road their new church home. And the longer they sat under Pastor Lockwood’s ministry, the more their respect for him deepened.
When my brother Steve or I were able to take the occasional Sunday off from our own churches, we got the chance to sit under Pastor Lockwood’s ministry, too. I always knew I would hear a good message preached from the Bible when I heard Pastor Lockwood. I would take lots of notes when he preached. I still have those notes.
My youngest brother, Curt, spent his teen years at Gray Road Baptist Church. He attended the Christian School there, and was friends with Mark Lockwood, one of Pastor Lockwood’s sons. One of my favorite stories about Pastor Lockwood comes from Curt’s one of experiences with Mark Lockwood.
The Lockwood’s lived right next to the church, and one Saturday night Curt and Mark we’re playing hide and seek with some other boys in the church building. As they hunted for a place to hide, they opened a door to an out-of-the-way room only to find Pastor Lockwood there, kneeling in prayer. It was a toss-up as to who scared who more! Curt said he waited for the inevitable scolding from Pastor Lockwood, but instead Pastor Lockwood asked what they were doing. When they told him they were playing hide and seek, he said, “Oh, you go ahead. I’ll find someplace else to pray.” I love the fact that he didn’t bawl them out or tell them they shouldn’t play in the church. I know he was glad that the boys were in the church playing hide and seek rather than out driving around doing who knew what. I love the fact that he responded with grace and understanding, rather than anger and judgment. Pastor Lockwood responded to those boys much more like Jesus than like a Pharisee. It made me love and respect him more.
Pastor Lockwood kept me in the ministry. At a crucial point in my life in the mid-nineties, I had had it up to here with petty church people problems. I was trying to convince God to let me fulfill His calling on my life by playing Christian music and not pastoring a church. So I applied for a job selling guitars at a music store in Terre Haute. I had three interviews, including one with the owner of the store, and I was offered the job. I then went home and spent a sleepless night, so under conviction I just couldn’t sleep. By morning I was miserable. I thought, “I’ve got to talk to somebody.” And so I called Pastor Lockwood. He graciously listened to my distress, and then cut to the chase with simplicity and wisdom. He said, “David, if God has called you to preach, why would you want to go sell guitars?” It seemed so clear when he said it that way. I called the music store back and told them I couldn’t accept the job. One of the salesmen who had gone to bat for me to get the job was quite angry with me for awhile for turning it down. But I had perfect peace about it, thanks to Pastor Lockwood’s wise counsel.
I would seek his advice from time to time, taking him to lunch just so I could “pick his brain”. He was a very busy man, but he made time for me. I know he did the same for my brother Steve as well. And he went down many times to preach for my brother Steve’s church in Coal City, Indiana.
For a few years on Tuesday mornings my father would join a group of Gray Roaders for “brunch” at Bob Evans in Southport. The heart of the group was always Pastor and Donna Lockwood. The group would eat, drink coffee and talk for almost three hours or more. Sometimes I had to go to Indianapolis on Tuesdays for a hospital call, and I would try to stop in at that Bob Evans afterwards and “crash” their group. I always sat by my Dad (and he always bought my breakfast…sometimes it was my second breakfast!). And inevitably I would begin to ask Pastor Lockwood questions about the ministry, and he and I would engage in a wonderful discussion. Often I was aware that the whole group would grow quiet just to listen to us. But my only contributions were questions. Pastor Lockwood would always respond with thoughtfulness and wisdom, and with a deep knowledge of the Bible. I’m choking up now as I remember how he patiently answered my questions and poured the benefit of his experiences and knowledge into my life. I sometimes felt sheepish about “hijacking” the Tuesday morning breakfast group. But I don’t regret an instant of the time I spent listening to Pastor Lockwood. I’m so grateful for it.
My Dad and Pastor Lockwood both declined in different ways at roughly the same time. Pastor Lockwood suffered with a debilitating illness in his legs that weakened them, eventually confining him to a motorized wheelchair. At one point he was in a rehabilitation facility, and I took my father to see him. We only did it once. It upset my Dad to see Pastor Lockwood in his weakened state. But even then, Pastor Lockwood’s mind was sharp. Once again he spoke to me of the ministry, telling me to preach the Gospel with all my might. He said that was his great regret, that he hadn’t preached the Gospel with more fervor.
To anybody who ever heard him, Pastor Lockwood’s regret would be a surprise. His sermons were “knowledge on fire”. Once after a service, I told him, “Pastor Lockwood, that was a great message. I can hardly wait to preach it myself!” He just laughed and said, “Well, you’d be welcome to!”
I have to comment on his deep bass voice. He was “basso profundo” for sure! It was such an unfair advantage for a preacher: he could read the phone book and sound like Moses on Mount Sinai! I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be scolded by that voice. But he only expressed gentleness and encouragement to me with his voice. Even when there was a note of rebuke in it (like when I almost went to sell guitars), I could sense his concern for me in that voice.
Pastor Lockwood was pretty much confined to his house by the time my Dad died. I exchanged messages with him online, asking if he was up to visitors. He told me he’d love to see me, just to let him know a day or two in advance. I am so regretful that the busyness of life and demands on my time kept me postponing going to see him. Now I won’t have the chance to benefit from his godly counsel again in this life.
But I’m glad he’s Home. And I’m so grateful for the immense impact and influence of this godly pastor on my family, on myself, and in my ministry. I can’t imagine that he didn’t hear the Lord say: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
I would certainly say “Amen!” to that!
Soli Deo Gloria!