Jackie and Mike Taylor
ike Taylor was the first friend I made when I came to work here at Grace to You in 1983. His office was right next to mine, and we almost immediately formed a mutual respect and deep affection for one another that did not diminish with time.
In those days, Grace To You operated under the oversight of Grace Church's elders, and I was the first non-Grace-Church person ever hired (from Chicago, no less) to work for the ministry. Mike was still a fairly new Christiana one-time bartender and frustrated film-school graduate who had been hired to edit study guides. (The study guides were those simple outline-style curricular books Grace to You used to publish as companions to each new series we broadcast on the radio.) Mike's full-time employment began just two or three months before I arrived, so we were the newest employees in the building.
Ironically, although I had worked as an editor at Moody Press, my first job at Grace to You was answering listener mail. Mike was inexperienced as an editor but devoted to the task and committed to excellence. For the first year and a half or so, I deliberately kept my nose out of all editorial affairs. But I needn't have worried. Mike welcomed me heartily from day one, and there was never any tension (and not one cross word that ever passed between us) in more than 26 years of friendship.
As it turned out, Mike had numerous innate abilities that perfectly suited him for editorial work. He was an excellent writer with a powerful instinct for clarity and brevity. He was also a quick learner. Everything he ever wrote or edited was superb. He had enough natural talent and developed enough wordsmithing skills that he would have qualified to work for any publisher anywhere.
When Mike first started working for Grace to You, it was only on an hourly ad hoc basis. Even when he was first hired full time, I presume he still thought of the job as temporary and transitional; not exactly a promising career move. But as a new Christian, he was hungry to learn the Word of God, and that job gave him an opportunity to study Scripture for long hours and get paid in the process. He could hardly believe that Providence would bless him with such a privilege.
Many years later, more than two decades after Mike moved into management at Grace to You and embraced the job as his life's work, he still felt exactly the same wayutterly amazed at the thought that God took him from tending bar in a joint on Hollywood Boulevard to serving in such a strategic, far-reaching role of ministry alongside John MacArthur. Mike had a loud, infectious laugh that echoed daily through our hallways. He became more knowledgeable about doctrine and Scripture than many seminary graduates. He proved to be an excellent teacher himself and was a key person in the leadership of GraceLife (the group Don Green and I jointly pastor at Grace Church).
Mike met his wife, Jackie, at Grace Church in 1982 or so and married her shortly after I first met him. Jackie and Darlene became lifelong friends, too. The Taylors had two precious daughters, Amanda and Emily, who grew to adulthood alongside my three boys, attending all the same schools, riding in the same carpools, and going to all the same church activities together. All five of them are still active in young-adult activities at Grace Church. Amanda and Emily both serve on the church staff. My eldest son, now 29, found a kindred spirit in Mike. They loved going to hockey games together. Our families were close at every level.
Anyway, two or three years ago, Mike contracted Valley Fever, a fungal infection that in most cases causes nothing worse than mild flu-like symptoms. In a narrow percentage of people, however, it can be very serious, or even prove fatal. Mike seemed to recover from the worst of the fever after that initial severe bout, but a few nagging symptoms remained. By March of this year, he was feeling back pain and losing his sense of balance; his walk became slow and deliberate, and he finally began using a cane. By April, those symptoms worsened; Mike was experiencing a creeping paralysis, and he was obviously losing mobility at a disturbing speed. We were all concerned. Mike, however, remained upbeat. He answered all my concerns with reassurances that he was regularly seeing doctors and he believed they understood what was wrong and could treat it.
The problem, as I understand it, is that the fungus had invaded Mike's spinal column, causing scar tissue that constricted those central nerves and was gradually paralyzing him. The lead doctor proposed a heavy steroidal treatment to knock the fungus out.
About two weeks ago, Mike entered the hospital for ten days of treatment with powerful doses of anti-fungal medication and steroids. Apparently the medication had side-effects that caused massive internal bleeding. Doctors were unable to stop the bleeding, and Mike went to heaven Saturday morning.
The entire Grace to You staff is still in a deep state of shock over Mike's death, and we will all miss him greatly.
Mike and I went together from being the youngest rookies to being the longest-tenured employees in the whole building. I find it hard to believe so many years have gone by so quickly, and I can't imagine what life at Grace to You will be like without Mike's laughter echoing in the hallways.
Please pray for Jackie, Amanda, and Emily. The loss for them is surely even more bitter-tasting than it is for us, and that is almost unimaginable.
And yet in the midst of all that sorrow is a sense of unspeakable joy and rejoicing when we think of Mike. We know he is in the presence of Christ, basking in the glory of heaven, and surely more amazed than ever at by the grace that carried him from Hollywood Boulevard to heaven. Words can't possibly express the triumphant gladness the truth of the gospel brings in moments like this.
What a profound blessing assurance is!