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Losing a father

December 19, 2007

Living across the world from my family has been tough recently.  Many things have happened in the last few days that will forever change my life when I return home.  April will be one of the most bittersweet times in my entire life.  The first thing that has just happened (just one hour ago) is I am now the proud uncle of a baby boy.  Congratulations David and Brooke.  May you be surrounded by grace and peace in this new, miraculous phase of your lives.

However, earlier this morning I found out the news that a man of God, a father figure, a mentor, and a friend departed this world and saw his hope, his love, his joy, his life as he looked into the face of The Christ.  Now, I only use the word “however” in describing this death (but actually the more real life), to express my sorrow at losing someone so important in my life.  What he has experienced can never be looked at as anything but the completion of our beautiful faith, the reception of a glorious crown, and the fullness of love that no man may know except that he know the source of all love –the Lord of Hosts in His glory.

So allow me to speak of this man of God in how I knew him during his life. 

I grew up across the street from Alan and his family (Karla, Christopher, and Rebekah) from the time I was less than two years old.  Christopher and I were best friends for a large part of our childhood, and so at least half of my time was spent with my “other” family.  The thing that I remember most clearly of Alan during this time of my life was his music and his instruments.  I know I asked him at least a thousand times (!) to play “Purple Haze” or the guitar solo for “We Will Rock You,” or the intro to “Stairway to Heaven.”  Although it would be years later that this love for music would develop into my own endeavours at musicianship, I can certainly say it was these answered requests that placed such a great love in my heart.  And because of this, I am able to humbly lead believers and lovers of Christ into worship of the triune God.  I am forever grateful for Alan’s influence in my life in this most precious area.

As I grew up into my teenage years, it was Alan’s faithfulness as a youth pastor that perhaps saved my faith.  For it was he who encouraged me year after year to attend Youth Quake, a youth conference he was faithful in having his church attend for over 15 years.  My first year attending this conference was one of the most transformative experiences in my Christian life.  It was here that I discovered (or was discovered by) the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  For many years afterward on into college I would attend this conference for a time of renewal during some dark and dry times.  I say that this saved my faith, because it was Alan’s persistance that constantly thrust me into the presence of the living God, and while I went through times of struggle, my faith was built on a foundation that could never fully be shaken.

It was during my college years that Alan would have his greatest influence in my life, as I worked under him as a youth intern for his church.  From this time, he became a close friend, a mentor, and a second father to me.  It was here that I would learn of his devotion to the Lord and a character that had been wrought in the righteousness and joy of the Lord.  I can honestly say that I know of no one who walked in the continual joy of the Lord the way Alan did.  Perhaps his most striking qualities were the genuineness of his smile and the sincerity of his words.  He was never fake!  Too often have I met believers (I have been one myself) who put on a “mask” of joy because that is what they were supposed to look like.  For Alan, this was unnecessary.  Alan’s joy came genuinely from the overflow of the presence of the Holy Spirit within him.  He was dedicated to his work, he loved the people of his church, and he condescended to befriend a young and immature college intern.  I never once felt like I was beneath him.  He became a wonderful friend during  those years.

I’ve lost a father in the faith, but heaven has gained a saint.  I’ve lost a friend, but heaven has gained a “friend indeed” of Christ.  I’ve lost a loved one, but heaven has gained a “beloved of God.”  Alan, you are counted among the faithful.  You are deemed an overcomer.  Through your faith, you have attained to life everlasting.  May you forever enjoy your hearts true desires:  the beauty of the King of Kings, the fellowship of the Lord of Lords, the love of the Author of Salvation, the final victory over sin and death by the Risen Christ!

“Where O Death is your victory!?  Where O Death is your sting?!”

 I write this with tears of sorrow and of joy.

Dwell in the hope of God.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth permalink
    December 20, 2007 8:13

    Beautiful, sweet, and full of hope…thank you.

  2. Mink permalink
    December 21, 2007 6:22

    Jon, this is beautifully written. And it somehow touched my heart. I once lost a father before. And I know how exactly it feels to lose someone you love….but….I’m glad you share this w/ us…that you shared the life of a saint….Oh, how I wish that my sorrow would be replaced w/ joy knowing that my dad could be with Him…

    Thank you.

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