I lost a friend today. We were not extremely close. We didn’t “hang out” together, we mostly chatted in church. Occasionally, he and his wife and my hubby and I dined over Mexican food. We shared prayers over family and nagging health concerns as we grew older. I felt as close to him as I do with friends I “hang out” and with whom I do life together. Something simple and wonderful drew me and others to him. He had a heart for Jesus and His people. He genuinely loved, cared for, and served others; no judgment, no pretense, only love oozing from a true servant’s heart. Need a ride, go see him. Need a little extra help with the budget, go see him. Food baskets didn’t just come at the Holidays. Regardless of the season, if a need arose and he could fill it, he was there. I have never met someone with more genuine compassion, true humility, or more depth of what it meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Oh how he loved his family, and his family, especially his grand-kids, loved their “papa”. I had the privilege of being at the bedside when the family gathered around to pray, one last time, before turning off the machine that was sustaining his breathing. The pastor and dear friend said, “If anyone would like to pray, please do so and I will close”. My friends very young, and I mean young, granddaughter immediately raised her hand and among the sobs and flow of tears said, “I want to pray for “papa”. There was a joy reflected among the words as she prayed boldly for her grandpa. She asked God to take care of her papa now because he would be with Jesus. “We love him very much”. “Please take care of my “papa”, “I love my papa”. My heart broke and was touched; I will be forever changed.
“A little child shall lead them”. The influence of a father and grandpa shined greatly in that room.
My friend had a vessel begin to leak in his brain. Yesterday afternoon he had a slight headache, within 24 hours he was in Heaven leaving his family to wonder how this could be. My friend not only shared Jesus with his family, friends, and those he came in contact with, he modeled it; as was evidenced today by a tiny child who desired to pray one last time for her “papa”. Yes, I will be forever changed by this man whom I called friend. I am not the only one. Everyone who knew my friend was changed. What a legacy! A legacy of love!
Before I left the room, I laid my hand on his shoulder and I said, “Enjoy your new journey my friend, I hear it will be wonderful”. Someone in the room said “Heaven received a gift today.” As I walked away, I thought to myself “Heaven did indeed receive a gift today; a beautiful gift”, and then I wondered what kind of gift I will be? What legacy will I leave?
I will miss you my friend,
See you on the other side!