Mr. Stan, it was hard to watch you go. For us to come and sit next to you, to see God’s plan for your life unfold in ways we didn’t like. We wouldn’t have chosen. I didn’t understand how He could think this was what was best for you, but I learned that even when I can’t see it; even when I don’t want it- His Will is perfect. His Will is always good. And I loved Him even more for that.
You worked hard your entire life.
You had hard jobs and side jobs and fun jobs and jobs where you hoed cotton all the way in West Texas. You painted cars. Repaired Engines. Exhausts. Your favorite ramshackle leather chair.
You traveled. You went to Europe and Alaska and New York and Egypt and to Sam’s 3 different times a week for grapes and cherry tomatoes. You drove to Walmart for buttermilk and up to the country to sell car paint.
You made the best barbecue chicken and homemade ice cream. You told stories and jokes (always only clean ones) and cheesy one liners we’d all heard a million times. You encouraged everyone you came across and left them with a smile. Your reputation preceded you because you were a man of integrity.
But as much working and traveling and talking that you did- last week was your Best One Yet. Because your choice all those years ago to put on Christ in baptism and to take that path to follow Him through your life gave you the best gift you’ve ever gotten: Victory.
We saw you and loved you and cried over you and cared for you last week. And it was hard. And humbling. And holy. And what kept circling back into my mind during our times together was how grateful I was for what was Waiting for you. What you knew was just around the bend. How I’m sure you were anxious for it and how I know we were anxious for it for you too. How thankful we were for it. Because without that Hope of what we knew was waiting for you, we could have never gotten through telling you goodbye.
I loved Jesus even more last week, because it was His Gift, His Sacrifice that was our comfort. We knew that whatever we were facing here- whatever path of His Will that we were called to follow in His Plans for you- Jesus had already covered it with His love. We weren’t alone or abandoned or without hope. And we needed it.
This was hard. There were times for tears and cries and prayers happening in our lives that had never been required of us before. And I can’t imagine walking through that valley without Jesus. Being able to cling to Him through this Hard Time because we knew He was waiting to welcome you Home. What a balm. It made me even more thankful for the perfect life Jesus led and the Sacrifice He offered to give us His Gift. This is not the end for us. Hallelujah.
Your Victory in death gave me a chance to love Jesus even more, Mr. Stan. It refined my heart and has made me a better Christian. A better wife to your son. A better Mom to your grandkids. And that’s going to be with me, and grow with me, and grow in our family for the rest of our lives. What a legacy you have left with us! I’m so grateful. Your example of your faith is going to bless our futures and bear fruit for years to come. Until we see you again. And we will.