A week or so ago I opened my inbox to find some new e-mails. One titled “Remembering Roger,” an e-letter sent out by Legacy Five, caught my attention immediately. As I read down through the short memorial written by Scott Fowler, I was reminded of that man of strength, courage, and faith…Roger Bennett. This year Roger is celebrating his 5th year with the Lord. (I’m sure it doesn’t seem that long to him!) Yet, down here, it seems like forever since his departure. Yet, preserved through his book, we have the legacy he left behind…Midnight Meditations.
Midnight Meditations is collection of writings from Roger Bennett and his wife, Debbie, that chronicle his journey through chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Through these 451 pages, you read what was Roger’s online journal: devotions, day-to-day life and blog posts that kept his prayer warriors up to date concerning his progress, and sometimes regress, during his cancer treatments. These are the things you will read about in this volume: The Forward was written by his physician from Houston, Dr. Michael Keating. In addition, there are two Introductions, one written by Debbie and one by Roger, and a Preface written by Roger as well. If Roger were here I’m sure he would tell you that Midnight Meditations wasn’t just published so we could read his story, rather, that we would be encouraged as we walk through our own midnights and draw from the strength that he did – Jesus Christ. As we page through this book together we will see five natural divisions of Roger and Debbie’s writings: his devotions, early journal, online journal, Debbie’s meditations and an assortment of pictures. As Roger reminds us in the Preface, “…God is preparing you for your own “Midnight Meditations,” whatever they may be. It could be the very best time you spend this side of Heaven.”
After opening our book and turning to the first page, we see Roger’s favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day…So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Then we come to the first section, a compilation of 14 short devotions that Roger wrote to accompany the release of his CD, also entitled Midnight Meditations. Those who are familiar with Roger’s music may remember that project, a number of hymns he arranged for a piano solo recording. Each devotion bears a hymn as it’s title, a Scripture verse, Roger’s thoughts on the hymn, and in some cases, a closing prayer. He does an excellent job of communicating why the hymns mean so much to him, especially as a cancer patient.
The second portion of the book begins after the Preface and second Introduction, both written by Roger, and is his personal journal in print. The first entry was written on the day that he was dignosed with cancer and continued to the time when the Bennett’s had to relocate to Houston for Roger’s Bone Marrow Transplant. These entries are short and sweet, but give little glimpses into his life that combine the “Gospel Artist” with the family man, father, cancer patient and friend.
In 2004 when Roger went to Houston for a Bone Marrow Transplant he began an online journal/blog to keep family, friends and fans up dated on his health. This is the third segment of Midnight Meditations and makes up most of the book. Like Debbie mentioned, the blog posts began as a way to keep others informed on Roger’s physical health, but it quickly spread as a way to encourage others with their spiritual health and share everyday experiences that brought joy to both their lives. For example, in his entry for January 29, 2004 he shared the delight he had in attending a concert his daughter was a part of at her university. Then, on March 27, 2005 he wrote a post for Easter, highlighting the importance of both the cross and blood of Christ. These are the pages that can make you laugh, cry and feel conviction all at once!
After Roger’s passing on March 17, 2007, Debbie kept the online journal going with her own meditations. This was the most difficult part of the book to read for me personally. Yet, we see a certain strength in Debbie that is most admirable. For as much as she went through, we don’t see a woman sinking in self-pity on the last few pages – but rather, one who knows for certain where her husband is and that she will be with him again, and most of all, continues to honor his legacy. We see Debbie going to the UK to film a video that would be a tribute to Roger’s life (Whispers In the Night). We see her compiling this book, training in Minnesota to be a volunteer courier with the National Marrow Donor Program so she can be a help to others, and taking a missions trip to Poland with her daughter. Over and over again we see her following the pattern Roger based his life on – taking sorrow and using it for the glory of God. It isn’t easy, but it can be done, and Debbie Bennett has done it well.
The final part of this book is the photo gallery. Twenty-three pages of pictures from Roger’s life with friends and family. Taken from the hospital, home and vacations, Debbie graciously shared these captured moments in print.
Conclusion: The e-letter I received from Legacy Five said, “March is Remembering Roger Bennett Month.” Many probably have memories of Roger from concerts they attended either with the Cathedrals or Legacy Five, maybe even a favorite “Roger Story.” – But I’ve come to appreciate the value of the written word in times like these, and Midnight Meditations offers all of Roger and Debbie’s writings in one volume. You can’t get any better than that, eh? This book is easy to read, inspiring, and most of all, full of faith and the love of Christ. For the month of March, L5 has this book available on their website: www.legacyfive.com and/or you can purchase it from www.rogerbennettdirect.com – either way, you will be blessed if you decide to make a copy yours.
“The world is stamped by his presence and he will not be forgotten by those who loved him.”
– Dr. Michael Keating