I am reflecting on my grandfather these days, my dad's dad. Partly because I have a Bible of his from the 1980s lying on my desk at Crossway. I flop it open frequently to see what he was jotting down in the margins about various passages that become meaningful to me on any given day. In the picture here he's preaching near the empty garden tomb in Jerusalem, 1992.
On Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 48 hours after my grandfather died, my dad wrote on a now-private blog:
Sunday evening my dad died. He was the most godly man I've ever known. I was fearful that he might linger and suffer a long time. But God in mercy took dad more quickly than I expected. So now, dad is released from this life. He is safe in heaven forever, beyond the reach of sin and Satan. And dad is happy, because he is finally with the Lord he loved since his conversion at the age of 12. He is worshiping Christ with inconceivable joys because of the finished work of the cross for sinners.
My lasting thought on my dad is not only that he was a wonderful father to me personally and a wonderful pastor to so many but also that he embodied classical Christian piety with authentic beauty. He loved his Lord tenderly and reverently. He believed the Bible entirely. He honored the Lordship of Christ over the whole of life. He led people to new faith in Christ. He was a faithful husband and father. He preached with an astonishing ability to help people connect with the Lord. He was generous with his money. He thought carefully about theology. And he enjoyed the daily things of this life, because God is good. And dad was kind, so very kind, to everyone around. It is inconceivable to me that dad would compromise the high standards of Christian holiness, so consistent was his life. These basics are demanding, but they make a man great. They make the church great. And we must not become so sophisticated that we lose them in our time. Now it is our turn to take up this baton and run well, passing it on to those who follow.
Mom and the rest of us will miss him terribly. Jani and I still cannot absorb the fact that he is not here. It is stunning, isn't it, to think that none of us can even call him on the phone? (Oh, let us stay close and love one another avidly, while we can!) But soon we will see dad again, for we ourselves have been claimed by Christ, and he has our hearts. If we will walk with the Lord in the simple basics, then we too will be ready to leave this life behind and be lifted into that which is truly life forever.
Dad, well done! I love you, and I'll see you soon. But not soon enough.