Before August 12, 2013, my father-in-love’s funeral day, I had never spoken at a graveside service. In fact, if I can, I stay at the back of the crowd so I don’t have to be too intimately involved in what’s being said and done. But I offered because Brad was my second dad. And David, his son, is my best friend and pastor. And David needed a break.
With that in mind, I wanted to share this with you…especially any of you who are crushed by the passing of our sweet, kind, gentle giant, John Bond. Even typing his name in this context destroys me. I simply cannot believe it.
Nevertheless, here is that graveside moment…but I’ve changed it from Brad Ramsey, Jr./Pawpaw…to John. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, John was a definite father-figure to me…and now there is a hole in my life and heart. I hope that maybe you can find some comfort in these words. That’s my prayer!
I’ve tried to make sense out of all of this. But nothing is working. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t fair. John was taken too soon from us. Simple as that. CS Lewis said, “The death of a beloved is an amputation.” Not “like” an amputation. It is one. A vital, irreplaceable part of our family has been amputated…cut off. Every part of our lives that once had John in it will now be empty.
We’ll find thought after thought, feeling after feeling, action after action, that had John for their object. Now the target is gone. We will keep on, through habit, fitting an arrow to the string; then remember…and have to lay the bow down.
We will continue to grieve. Not only that, but we will live each day thinking about living each day in grief. But there is such great comfort knowing where John is. He won’t hurt any more. He won’t grieve any more. He won’t have to lie about feeling ok any more. And one day, we will all be reunited with him
John lived each day demonstrating to us how to leave this world with no regret. As CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
It’s ok to try to understand why things like these occur. But the Bible tells us to trust with our heart, not with our mind. We can’t depend on our mind to help us figure this out.
God is in control; his thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways. But one thing we can be sure of is this: God is loving, faithful, gracious and merciful.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”
We have to practice what we’ve learned now. What we’ve taught others to believe. God wants to know if we will trust Him no matter what our outward circumstances may be – even if it means death. Will we say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him”?
So with that, we say our final earth goodbye, here on this mountain. And it is now our responsibility and privilege as friends, wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren, to carry on his legacy. To live selflessly, to give generously, to develop relationships expecting nothing in return, to make people feel like they matter to someone, to serve joyfully, and to one day, leave this life with no regrets. And a better place because we were here.
Because this world is a much better place because John walked its soil.