Tuesday, May 03, 2011


My husband and I never really knew Chip Stam, but he was one of those rare individuals who knew no stranger. Chip was a professor at Southern Seminary, pastor and worship leader at Clifton Baptist Church, and a man who radiated the love and joy of Christ. Absolutely radiated. Through testimonies from those closer to him, and even through my own limited interactions, it was evident to all that he was a man whose love for Jesus was infectious and who sincerely delighted in worshipping our King. Even after his initial diagnosis in 2007, Chip faced his battle with cancer smiling and knowing that the victory was already won. He was diligent in keeping friends near and far updated through an online journal, and his wife posted the letter yesterday informing loved ones of his passing on Sunday: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/carlstam. In her letter, she references his favorite passage from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.


My clearest memory of Chip was from three years ago, roughly a year after his diagnosis. One of mine and my husband's favorite worship groups, Indelible Grace, was in Louisville and had a concert at Clifton Baptist. We happened to sit in the pew right next to Chip and his lovely wife. At this time in his cancer journey, Chip was wearing a brace which wrapped around his entire torso and was held in place by velcro. I will never hear "Come Ye Sinners" without thinking of Chip keeping in time with the music as if he was a one-man band: tapping his foot and drumming the beat on his brace. (I'm pretty sure I heard him messing with the velcro straps a few times, too!) Such a memory really holds in my mind who he was and how others saw him: a man who loved to worship, no matter the trial, and did so with overwhelming joy.


In following the news of his passing yesterday, several songs from Keith and Kristyn Getty were running through my mind throughout the day. Chip was always one of their biggest fans, and they were huge fans of his in return. One of the last memories of him being out in public was at the Christmas concert they held at Southern's Alumni Chapel just this past December. We were in the balcony, and Chip had situated himself on the front row. The Gettys made it a special point to acknowledge his presence there, and to honor him as a man who had so richly encouraged and supported them over the years.


The man with the infectious joy, the one who absolutely radiated the joy and love of Christ, is now with the King. While his family and close friends are sorrowful over such a great loss, those of us who are in Christ rejoice, and at times even weep, to think of him beholding the One whom He so fervently loved and honored with his life. Glory and praise to God for giving us such an example even if for a brief time. Chip has entered that eternal rest, and is now worshipping in perfect song:

There is a higher throne than all this world has known,

Where faithful ones from ev'ry tongue will one day come.

Before the Son we'll stand, made faultless through the Lamb;

Believing hearts find promised grace—Salvation comes.

Hear heaven's voices sing; their thund'rous anthem rings

Through em'rald courts and sapphire skies, their praises rise.

All glory, wisdom, pow'r, strength, thanks, and honor are

To God our King, who reigns on high forevermore.

And there we'll find our home, our life before the throne;

We'll honor Him in perfect song where we belong.

He'll wipe each tear-stained eye as thirst and hunger die.

The Lamb becomes our Shepherd King; we'll reign with Him.

(Keith & Kristyn Getty)


Gretchen said...

I remember that from the Indelible Grace concert, too! :) HAHA, Chip always used that brace as an instrument. Crack me up.

Josh and I got to do so many things because Chip would ask us to work the book table -- Getty's concert, showing of Screwtape Letters, and probably some other things I don't remember -- plus MEET wonderful people that he brought to Southern and our church. And Chip always introduced us as "This is Gretchen, she sings in my choir" as if somehow I had ANY singing talent. . . so kind.

Terri said...

Thanks for sharing that with us. What a way to be remembered! He gives us something to aspire to, that joy in the Lord all through lifes ups and down.