Good morning, God.
Even though the sun is shining, it’s a sad, sad day.
A friend died yesterday. A friend and a neighbour. A real, honest-to-goodness gentleman for whom I had such respect and admiration. Always the same; warm, friendly, open and welcoming. He was a lovely man who carried you in his heart. Energetic, full of life. Full of fun. Creative, talented, humble and hard-working. Approachable. He always had time, even when he was busy.
Right up until his time was over.
He's gone, now. Gone to be with you. I imagine there was a party in Heaven last night. It's probably going on still. Were you there watching for him yesterday? Creator God, maker of heaven and earth. Were you looking out for him? Twitching the curtains? Restless in anticipation?
He'll be here soon. My lovely child is on his way.
'Here he comes! Everyone! Here he is! Come on in, my son. I’ve been waiting for you.
You held him tight. He's raising a glass with you right now. He's smiling. He is fit and happy. He can breathe again.
He knew where he was going. Throughout his life he knew how to lean on you in sickness and health; he’d had to learn. He had no illusions about the fragility of life. He understood that he was seriously ill and he knew that you held his life in your hands, and that was alright with him. He knew that there is no safer place. He trusted you with all that he had. He had your Spirit in his life and your peace in his heart, and that could not be taken from him, even when he lay with nothing left but limited breath and looked at death with strength and dignity.
He ended well.
Lord God, I am in awe of such faith. It must have shone from his hospital bed. Father, shortly before he died he asked for prayer that he might be a witness for you in the hospital. I have no doubt that you answered that prayer, Lord. We might not see it or ever know about it, but lives will have been touched. It was your plan.
Thankyou for his life. Thankyou that I knew him. Thankyou that the world is a different place because he has been in it.
You know what? I am different because he has been here. I don't think that's an exaggeration. I don't know him as well as many other people; I have only known him for a few years, but he has been an inspiration to me. Never afraid to admit a mistake, always happy to share experiences and ready to listen, affirm, support and reach out to help.
Lord, I'm sure he wasn't perfect. I'm sure that I never saw what those closer to him saw; the times when like everyone else he was angry or tired or irritable. I don't pretend to know him best, but what I do know is what he showed to me: kindness, patience, consideration, respect, the love of his Lord Jesus.
He loved you. He preached you, he lived you and he died in you. He has shared with me wisdom, pain and the joy of knowing you. And the manner in which he faced the end of his life will stay with me forever. I want to go that way too. His very last act on earth was to show the glory of his Father to the people around him.
You must be proud of him.
Rest in peace, my brother.
And in joy.
Lord, look after him.
See you later.