Raised to Life

Posted on 5:46 PM by

Raised to Life

Easter carries alot more meaning for me and my family this year with the passing of my dad a little over a week ago. I had the great honor of sharing his eulogy at his funeral. In life, death and new life, dad was always a reminder of hope and new life in Jesus. I thought I would share his eulogy today as a testimony of hope found in the resurrection of Jesus.


When I was ten years old, Dad took me on a trip, just the two of us. Apart from my honeymoon, I’ve probably never been so excited to go on a trip in my life. We planned and packed for a couple of weeks, loaded things up in the minivan with the Southern Miss sticker on the back, and pulled our little pop up camper out of Pearl, MS headed for the Smokey mountains. That trip exemplified so much of who my dad was as we spent time singing Elvis together in the van, reading books in the hammock, playing games, and talking about Jesus as we enjoyed His creation.

That was my dad. If you knew him, then I don’t have to tell you that he was the kindest man in the world. His heart overflowed with kindness. He never met a stranger. As soon as you met him, you were instantly friends. He was so genuine. Every word that came from his mouth was sincere and honest, and always grounded in love. The sheer volume of his friendships is evidence to the quality of His character. Writing this eulogy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever written, but also one of the easiest, because there is so much good to say about dad.

His smile warmed every room that he walked in. Even in his sickness, I can’t really remember a time where the joy of Jesus didn’t pour out of him. My dad constantly modeled Jesus and set a standard that I desire to be more like. Like Paul, his life said Imitate me as Imitate Christ.

It surprises you the older you grow that you take on characteristics of your parents. I’ve been blessed to inherit my dad’s smile, his love for reading Tolkein, and listening to Elvis and Johnny Cash. I also have had the joy of inheriting my dad’s hairline. But it’s his kindness that I want to have more of. I want to be more genuine and sincere. I hope and pray that one day I’m blessed to be surrounded by as many close friends as my father and mother.

Most of all, I want to love Jesus how my dad loved Jesus. So real, so genuine, so sincere. I loved having conversations with my dad about his hope in Christ and seeing tears in the corner of his eyes. Every year as we sat down to enjoy Christmas together, my dad was intent on not just reading the Christmas story, about the birth of the Son of God who changed the world forever, but to clearly explain to us that the birth of Christ took place for the death and resurrection of Christ, which gives us new hope. He loved to share and teach the gospel of Jesus to his family. I think that’s the thing I’ll remember most about him.

Not only did he speak it, but he lived it. Dad modeled the servant leadership of Jesus in his marriage to my beautiful mom, to our family as my sisters and I struggled through adolescence and coming to faith in Christ, and in all of his relationships. There was never a question that dad was the leader in our family, but he led with so much grace, consistency, and love that he was never hard to follow. We wanted to follow dad and please and honor dad, as he taught us what it meant to follow Christ, to please and honor Him.

Dad loved mom. You heard it in his words, but you could mostly see it in how he trusted her. She worked so diligently to care for him over these past few years, but that was a reflection of the care that dad showed for her as she struggled through her own cancer. I’ve never seen such a consistent example of real, sacrificial love as what I was able to see in the relationship of my parents.

Dad was a fighter. About two and a half years ago when he was diagnosed with his aggressive cancer, he made a commitment to fight it. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his words. He wanted to experience more of the life that God had given him. I truly believe that dad did that for us. He knew the joy he would have with his savior, but he wanted more time to express Jesus to us. We were able to spend 3 more Christmases with our dad, hearing him lovingly tell us of the Father’s love for us in Christ. We got to celebrate our parents 50th Wedding Anniversary this past December, hearing stories of God’s faithfulness from the friends that God blessed our parents with. That was such a gift from God to my mom and our family.

It’s fitting that dad passed just a little over a week before Easter, because his life, and death, and new life, are a testimony to the resurrection of Jesus. This time of year is a great reminder to us that death is not the end. New life, real life is to come. Jesus in John 11 says “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Because of the love and sacrifice of his savior, dad is alive in Christ Jesus.

Just this past Monday, as dad made the decision to attempt a surgery that could have helped him get stronger, he walked in with confidence in His savior. As he said to mom, “If I don’t make it, I’ll be in a better place.”

Martin Luther, the great reformer, once said “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” Yesterday I stood looking out the back window of my parent’s house to the redbud tree that my dad loved to watch. With spring coming, it’s just started to bloom. But that bloom is such a clear picture of the hope and new life in Christ that dad is experiencing now. Death may try to win, but creation proves to us each year that life is made new. And Thursday morning, dad was proof that death has no victory for those who are in Christ Jesus. He has been made new.

Isaiah 40:31 -
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”


Danny Bain said...

Joel, your description of your dad is so inspiring and from what I remember of him, completely accurate. I remember him from Grandview and Trinity until I made a career in the Air Force beginning n 1978. Your dad was as Christ-like as it gets, and any Christian would be proud to be more like your dad. He inspired many people during his life, and his memory will continue to inspire others for years to come. Danny Bain