“Man of God, in the Hebrew Bible, is a title of respect applied to prophets and beloved religious leaders” (Wikipedia.) That phrase nearly perfectly suits Steve Whitner. “Religious leader” doesn’t quite do it though. Steve is more than that. He is a devoted seeker of Christ, and that is what makes him a beloved religious leader. He is an Associate Pastor at my church Altadena Valley Presbyterian Church. Specifically he is the music minister. A couple of Sundays ago it was his 20th anniversary at AVPC. Because of an enormous weekend of activities at the church that weekend, and the very careful cunning of the congregation, he didn’t notice that there was a little secret being kept from him. For a few weeks before this Sunday, a secret choir had been rehearsing an anthem that the church commissioned in honor of Steve. At the end of the service, the choir headed up to the choir loft, much to the confusion of poor Steve. He seemed confused, but calmly left the stage as he was told and looked around to determine what in the world must be going on. After everyone was in place, our pastor Brad Allison, explained what was happening. What began as confused interest for our beloved Steve quickly changed to humble emotion. Surrounded by his family and the MANY church members who love him, he worshiped as he listened to this anthem based on Habakuk 3. It was written by the esteemed composer, K. Lee Scott. As a fellow musician, this meant so much to Steve. You could see it on his face when he realized that Mr. Scott wasn’t just worshiping with us that day… he was there to help celebrate Steve. Hopefully, these images tell the story better than my words.
Here is just a little bit of the scripture the piece was based on:
(some of )Habakuk 3:2-19
LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
You can see the calm confusion on Steve’s face here.
This, of course, is my favorite. I love raw emotion. This is where he sees what’s REALLY going on here. Steve receiving the benediction with his daughters. What a sweet moment. There was also a reception after. Steve seemed a little uncomfortable with all the attention for a minute, but once people came and started loving on him, he loosened right up. And I’m pretty sure he was excited to talk to Mr. Scott, too. What a great day!
We love you Steve! Thank you for serving us and our heavenly Father so faithfully.