January 20, 2012

Goodbye My Friend

It's almost two weeks now since I learned of the news. One of my oldest and dearest friends passed away unexpectedly. Twenty-nine years is a lot of relationship. I'm still sort of numb as this wasn't something I saw coming.

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing at his memorial service. Below is what I will say. To honor him will be an easy thing. To not see him this side of heaven will not. Thanks for everything, Hal.

We’ve heard from several people about Hal and his history with them. Thank you all for sharing from your heart.

I could add my own memories as well. Hal and his family have been our friends for 29 years, so we have almost 3 decades of relationship to tell stories from.

It’s clear by looking around this room that Hal enjoyed different relationships with different people:

• Father and Husband
• Brother and Friend
• Pastor and Confidant

But Hal is most importantly defined as “Child of God”.

His son has asked that I share Hal’s favorite piece of the Bible. So, I am going to read it.

It’s from the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Christians in Rome.
I’ll begin in Chapter 8, verse 28.

Romans 8:28 – 39
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is FOR us, make no mistake!
In our world, sometimes Christians only focus on God’s coming judgment, our sin, and an eternity in Hell for all those who reject Him. That’s all true BUT…
But God is FOR us- and that’s a good thing!

And here is the story Hal liked to tell most of all:

In His great Mercy towards us, He sent Jesus Christ to pay the death penalty for our crimes, our sin, those actions and thoughts that break His heart, go against His wishes.

IN OUR PLACE, Jesus paid the price and saved all those who would turn to Him and away from their old lives. On the cross, Jesus paid, our penalty of Eternal Death in Hell. Because of this, we can live for eternity in Heaven with Him.

And that is where Hal is now. In the arms of Jesus Christ. Because Hal chose to embrace Jesus wholeheartedly as His Savior, His King, as God Eternal.

WHO or what could separate Hal from Jesus?
The Scripture here clearly says “No One!”

• Diabetes didn’t separate Hal from Jesus
• Cancer didn’t separate Hal from Jesus
• 911 didn’t separate Hal from Jesus
• Difficulties in Life didn’t separate Hal from Jesus!
• His own Sin didn’t separate Hal from Jesus

In fact, Let Me Remind You- We’re not here because Hal no longer exists! We’re here because Hal is now spending His eternity in Heaven with the God Made Man, the one he loved with all his heart! We’ll miss him here, but we can rejoice!

Let’s reread those last two verses, for these were Hal’s favorite verses in all of the Bible. Verses he clung to in times good and bad:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

It is Hal’s prayer and it is Hal’s heart, that his friends and family would come to trust in Jesus- the only one who we can really trust with our lives.

Thank you for joining us today to celebrate Hal’s life.
You all were precious to him!


Sandy said...

Mark, thank you for this eulogy. Hal and I were close friends in our early youth. His dad and mine were close friends in the USAF. We lost contact in our teen years and only just recently re-connected. I was excited to hear that he was a Christian and had served as a pastor for a season. I too became a believer (in college) and am finishing up my 25th year in pastoral ministry. It was so sad to hear of his home-going, and I suppose we will have to wait til later to catch up. Thanks again for your words, and I hope the memorial service went well.
Sandy Young, Blacksburg, VA (son of Col. Jack C. Young)

Mark Taft said...

Thanks, Sandy. I so miss Hal, too. After almost 30 years of friendship, I cannot believe I won't see him again this side of heaven!