There are seasons of life. As one gets older, the opportunity for losing good friends to the vicious enemy of death increases. I have experienced the death of five friends in the last year or so: Bill Quick, Patsy Hayes, Dick Engle, Rod Decker, Belva Donahue. Names on a page. Representing people that many of you reading this do not know.
Bill Quick was a friend who had a complicated past and an interesting sense of humor. Part of our church, his testimony was that the Lord had changed him, but he, like all of us, worked through the issues of life. He served faithfully in our church on the Praise Team and the Lord used him.
Patsy Hayes was a dear believer in my local church. She was in the hospital for around eleven months fighting some form of skin disorder and other issues. She eventually came out of it. We were excited about seeing her back on her feet again. She was a person full of energy and a heart who knew the Lord but wanted to know Him more deeply. However, he chose to help her go deeper by calling her home. She died of a heart attack when we thought things were going so well.
Dr. Dick Engle was for many years one of the Old Testament and Hebrew professors at Baptist Bible Seminary. He was a man that never said a bad word about anybody in my presence. He was a kind, gentle spirit who loved deeply. He showed patience toward me as I tried to help him with his computer many times. And he loved the Bible, especially the First Testament as he called it. The Lord took him this past spring.
Dr. Rod Decker was a close, personal friend. In fact, he preached the funeral of Dick Engle mentioned above. Recently (a few months ago), cancer took my friend Rod before his time. The loss stings me, although I am sure not as much as it hurts his own family. Rod was a great scholar and taught me much. I will always remember the conferences we attended together and the conversations as we traveled. He will be missed much.
Belva Donahue is the one on the list that was closest to me. My mother-in-law. She feigned anger at my “mother-in-law” jokes from time to time, but the truth was she was the best mother-in-law the husband of a daughter could ever want. She was kind yet feisty. She had her opinions but did not hate. And she shared her faith in God to the end, when she passed away this summer at the age of 89. She will be remembered.
All of these folks had put their trust in Christ as Savior. I will see them again when I get to heaven. Death, that great enemy the Bible tells us, has been conquered through Christ (1 Cor. 15:54-57). Its sting is only momentary. Its attack futile. The sorrow is only for a night. Eternity awaits…in glory and grandeur. The true believer has a special relationship to death. Dying is not our destiny (Rev. 21:4).