The Man

My father died February 13, 2012.

To remember is to heal.
To celebrate.
To anticipate.

—————————–

The Man

This day.
Again.

A requisite cycling of grief.

The remembering is terrifically awful.

In my mind are blood-red carnations
let loose amidst winter’s chill.
In fragrant tribute they softened the dirt of decay,
taunting death with the beauty of Hope.

Your mortality rests in mysterious completion,
enveloped in wood and cement.
Etched in placid formality is your name — our name.
You left us the fruit of integrity.

Immense is the void of you.
A reluctant child, I stand drop-jawed and small,
grateful, afraid —
and sad.

This is hard, dad.

But you know that.
We all come to know this anguished separation.

Still, I long for more —

For another, “That’s my boy!”
For a glimpse of your wink and nod.
For the warm fullness of your squeeze on my shoulder.

Such are a father’s gifts.
You were generous.

A catalyst to my manliness.
Stability, strength, and tenderness.
The man.

Now it’s my turn.

Sweet Mary

In the dark of my desk drawer is a birthday card.

On the cover, in black and white, is the photo of a crinkle-faced, toothless old man. 
Inside is this salutation: “You had better pray that you are as young as you feel and not as old as you look! – Love, Mary 🙂

Funny Mary.

Mary’s gone.
At least from here.
That void aches.

I think of her. And cry.
Separation hurts.
Death’s old cuts are bleeding fresh.

I’m pondering pain and justice.
Coaxing hope from the chaos of grief.
Cultivating joy in the seedbed of faith.

Still, I long for more of that beautiful life.
For more of Mary.

More of her laughter and jokes.
Her pranks and her pizza.
Her finely-feathered costume halo and mischievous smile.

I’ll miss her sipping coffee from a Victorian teacup.
Perching tiptoed on a step stool to fetch reams of paper.
Sprinting through the hall to answer a ringing phone.

Hard-working Mary.

I have books on my shelf.
Books from Mary.
Old books. Wonderful books.
Her husband’s books.
Thumbing through their pages, I glean Mary’s love.
I am humbled. Honored. Unworthy. Grateful.
Wonderful gifts.

Thank you, Mary.

Death is a robber.
A felonious creep that steals our best treasures.
He took our Mary – and not very nicely.

Jerk.

But Mary’s just fine.
Better than ever, really.
Rested. Satisfied. Complete.

Alive!

Her earthly song reverberates.
It is lovely.
And we sing for her, as she renews her precious marital grip.
Basks in faith’s realization.
And meets the gaze of her greatest love.

Well done, Sweet Mary.

Mary’s life verse: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10–11, NIV)

The 40’s Fork

Sparse and random were the small, black plastic discs. Stationed at ground level, most lay out of sight. Quiet. Dormant. Lifeless. They kindled little hope.
  
I summoned that micro-hope into energy to open a tired valve. A surge of pent-up water pushed past a squeaky groan and filled thirsty pipes. The sounds of pressurization and anticipation echoed through the plumbing. Then abruptly, silence. A good silence. Encouraging silence. Hope grew.

With renewed curiosity, I walked to the garage. Stopping at the workbench I directed my gaze upon a dim display recessed within a gray box. After stumbling through a sequence of button pushes, I grabbed the dial – and turned. Hand still firm on the control, I tensed like a cat ready to pounce. I listened. I hoped.
 
My grip lightened as I heard a gurgle. Then a hiss. With cautious optimism I bounded to the front of the garage. Bursts of vapor coughed and spurted from my small piece of suburban ground. It was a mini-Yellowstone landscape (sans the buffalo). From within the vale of vapor I saw silhouettes of small black cylinders worrying their way through crusty soil. They looked like guards at Buckingham Palace – tiny lawn soldiers with grassy bearskins (hats) rising to attention. Without hesitation these sprinklers in disguise began to process through a programmed choreography designed to deliver a dance of water in calculated trajectories.

I laughed. I whooped. I was giddy at this unexpected resurrection. With the joy of a child, I moved gleefully about my yard discovering hidden sprinklers like Easter eggs. I grinned at the platoon that had assembled and stood ready to bring luxuriant green to my scrubby landscape.

The surprise of an unexpectedly functional sprinkling system brings me great joy. Admittedly, my doubts were stacked high. I could see but a few clues that a system existed. Yet when called to action, the sprinklers woke from their subterranean hibernation. What appeared dysfunctional and lifeless was just waiting for activation. A call to be alive – again.

I’m in my early 40’s. Forty was a rough transition. If I’m statistically normal, I’m beyond the halfway point of life. For a guy aligned with the ‘glass half empty’ crowd, that’s tough news. The past few years I’ve thought often about what I’ve done, haven’t done, wish to do, and regret doing. The aches are starting, stamina is fading, and grey hair is blossoming. Cynicism stalks me. The big dreams of my 20’s have been buried by reason and reality. Those that survive are achieved with exceptional effort or remain elusive. This brings waves of disillusionment that pound the shore of my self-talk. It’s decision time as I stand at the fork of the 40’s: do I stay engaged, or check out.

As I reflect upon my strangely euphoric reaction to sprinklers popping-up like Prairie Dogs, I wonder what lies dormant in me? What has God yet to activate in my life? What exciting, unexpected, life-giving adventures await me in my second half? What needed to wait? What might stay dormant if I check out? Am I stealing joy from others, and myself? What fears limit my ability to foster life in my wife, children, neighbors, and co-workers? Will I bury myself and my dreams like an inactive, subterranean sprinkler or move into life’s rich depths that arrive only through passed time and collected experiences?

As I write, it’s not quite 6:30am. In the dark of the office suite my pastor whisks by my open door and exclaims, “It’s a great day, Chris!” Ah, medicine for my tumultuous 40-something soul. Today is great! It’s been sovereignly stuffed with situations and circumstances begging me to engage with courageous trust. Every relationship and task and thought and activity is opportunity to give back to the One who gifted this day.

Some say 40 is the new 30. I’m not buying that (neither is my body). What I am fully embracing is the type of life described by Thomas R. Kelly in his book, “A Testament of Devotion.” It’s the life of an active, vibrant, fully devoted follower of Jesus. Checked-in and ready. I want that life – at 43 and beyond. Here it is:

“The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its power world-shaking, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child.”
(p.28)

Join me in asking God for more of Him. Let’s bask in the joy of bringing Him glory as we rest satisfied in all that He is. That’s life – at any age.

Best Seat in the House

My hand glides lightly over its velvety fabric. Many hands – sticky and rough and small and greasy and snotty and delicate and yes, even some clean ones – have traveled a similar path. It beckons for touching. Few can resist the temptation to caress its surface as they round the corner into the open room.

Then a year ago, change came.

I still glide my hand along that fabric and receive a tickling of my palm. But now, I pause my routine. I press my hand down into the softness and squeeze gently. My fingers curl deep into the plush fabric-bound stuffing, releasing strong and savory memories. Memories of lavish Thanksgiving dinners. Of gut-churning U of M football games and associated outbursts. Of a dozen grandchildren whipped into raucous Christmastime excitement. Of casual evenings of take-out pizza and conversation. Of pleasurable bratwurst smokiness wafting in from the grill on the porch.

I release my squeeze on the thing privy to it all. A greyed-blue friend. Unobtrusive, yet alluring. It’s the epicenter of the room and hasn’t moved in years. It rests in quiet readiness. Expectant, with arms spread wide.

Those arms serve mostly as perches for little people these days. And that’s okay. Those little ones should be there, nestled in the warmth of a beautiful legacy. They need to soak in the pages of Scripture read there. They need to feel the wetness of tears that rolled from joy, and sorrow. Their ears must reverberate with the historical echo of petitions poured-forth from an anguished, hopeful, satisfied, pleading soul. The soul of a man who once sat where they now sit. A man who left us, and cannot return.

His leaving was not from offense, or disgust, or something said wrongly. It wasn’t from a relationship that cooled. The leaving was required. Expected, really. But this type of exit is always too soon, and never without horrifying pain. 



Dad is gone.

But his chair stays with us.

It’s seems strange to crave the sweet and bitter emotion that chair evokes. Yet I’m comforted when I see it. Touch it. Smell it. I don’t care to sit in it…much. It was dad’s chair. And when he reclined, all felt settled and right and good.

I long for my dad. My kids miss their grandpa. My mom grieves the pain of a severed oneness. So we pray. And beg for joy – because we can, and should. I’m grateful that God is gracious in his supplying.



Dad left a year ago. Remembering freshens my grief. Tears, again, trickle along familiar paths.

Yet, I smile.

At a chair.

For the memories it holds. And the person it held.
 


“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, ESV)

*My father died February 13, 2012. Here’s the eulogy I gave at his funeral.

The Crying Man

Graveside.

He’s standing there now. A woman sits crouched at his feet, shaking with sobs. The grave has engulfed her brother, who was precious to her.

Slumped on His shoulder is another woman. Sister to the first, her fingers ebb and flow with constriction upon His shoulder, syncing with erratic bursts of breath that flirt with His neck. His body gently resonates with her waves of sorrow. The woman’s ever-freshening tears have darkened the front of his cloak, bringing a poignant unity between them.

He finds his emotions building as cries from black-clothed mourners continuously loop their cacophonous wail. Closing His eyes, scenes flash across his mind with rapidity – the dead man, these sisters, shared meals, raucous laughter, late-night conversations, confrontations.

His eyes begin to burn as they prime a flow of salty grief. His mouth is dry but he reflexively swallows. Plagued with emotional tightness, His throat resists. Thorns and thistles. Life and death. This is the curse.

Gone is Lazarus.

The man, Jesus, weeps.

A tear pushes through the dust of Palestine that lightly coats His cheek. A second tear chases the first and nestles in His beard. His chest undulates with erratic heaves as He tries to dampen the outburst of grief welling inside. The woman at his shoulder shifts her arms to hold Him, briefly suspending her grief to offer comfort. He loved her brother. Great friends. Death has robbed their joy.

Jesus fully enters this interlude of grief. On His heart rests mankind’s dilemma and the burden of loss. He embraces the deep soul sorrow of separation through death. He doesn’t rescue by cueing the next scene. Instead, He stands there.

Crying.

Unashamed. Feeling the pain of life in His humanity.

Through His tears, Jesus offered uniquely human streams of compassion for his friends. Streams of anguish for our cursed humanity. Streams of love that foreshadow another flow.

Jesus is not above our pain. He is the answer to it.

Read the whole story in John 11.

Mining Fields of Grief

Despite being an introvert, my fondness for conversation is growing.

With the recent passing of my father, these past two weeks have been filled with conversations. Some focused on memories and recollections. Others were teary-eyed offerings of sympathy. And many began with emotion-choked words that quickly slipped into a gentle, silent embrace that communicated more than words ever could.

The day of my dad’s funeral, in the quiet of the church foyer I conversed with a friend. As she held my hand and fixed her eyes on mine, she spoke to me. Her words were purposeful. Piercing. Spirit-filled. Wise. She drew me into a sacred moment—a moment that has stolen my thoughts often in recent days.

Through that simple conversation, I was given a profound perspective on death. With her verbal and non-verbal communicating, my friend led me to an understanding of how we lay the dead to rest. As the sun streamed through the foyer’s glass doors, her soft, careful, intimate words brought life to Ecclesiastes 7:2—“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” (NIV)

As my friend and I talked, music played gently in the auditorium. I watched my mother worry her overly used tissue. One of my children nestled close to my side seeking the comfort of my touch. My father’s body laid an arms-length away. I was in a house of mourning. And it was wonderful.

The words of God, the conversation with my friend and the atmosphere of a small church foyer coalesced for a few surreal moments. My soul was shaken as it kindled the hope that God reveals Himself not just in life, but also in death. For the first time I felt a desire to mine funeral grief for bits of redemptive treasure. Funerals need not be empty goodbyes. They are opportunities to rescue beauty and truth from the grasp of humanity’s most painful, broken inevitability. The death of my father was a slice of history from which I can take something and keep it alive through my own living.

My heart is full. And heavy. Before, during and after dad’s relocation to heaven, my family has been surrounded and sheltered with love. Countless expressions of grace have bolstered our faith through this trying time. All we can do is respond with deepest gratitude.

Through my father’s death, my longing for restoration has intensified. But in the waiting, I rest in our Great Hope, Jesus Christ. And, thanks to a friend, I will engage funerals with expectation. Yes, I will grieve. I will comfort. I will cry. I will love. But I will also beg God to show Himself in fresh ways as I sit in a house of mourning.

A Eulogy

Monday, my father died.

Then Tuesday came. Just like every other day. It didn’t seem right. It felt rude and cold. Disrespectful. Shouldn’t there be something different about Tuesday? About today? My father is gone, and life won’t ever be the same.

Despite my desire for cosmic recognition, the sun rose again this morning. It has every day since dad’s passing. The days will cycle in apparent ignorance of this week’s events. Even so, I know the impact of Sam De Man sings into eternity.

It has been wonderfully difficult to look back upon my dad’s life. The beauty of a life well lived is an abundance of fond memories. The struggle of eulogizing a great man is brevity.

I’ll begin with memories I’ve rehashed many times over the years. Even before my father’s death, I enjoyed reflecting on the late September and early October Saturdays from my childhood. Those fall weekends were packed with football. I loved the game, and so did dad. Starting my kindergarten year, dad showed amazing patience as he coached and cheered and encouraged this underweight, overly shy son who tried to play the game. He helped me strap-on my oversized battle gear then slapped my backside launching me into an awkward trot out onto the field. Dad would clap and coach from the sidelines, adorned in his ‘Forest Hills Youth Football’ coaching jacket, which he proudly wore many years after I stopped playing.

Our post-game routine included talk over cider and donuts. Memories bring back the smell of dirt and rain and grass. I recall images of dad cupping his hands to shout instructions and encouragement. After shouting he would blow into his hands, trying to stay warm. He served me well in my desire to play ball.

Those Saturday morning ball games were followed by Saturday afternoon chores—and a bit more football. Dad would pace through his ‘to-do’ list accompanied by Bob Ufer, the play-by-play broadcaster for University of Michigan football. Dad would drag his well-worn black and silver radio around the yard so as not to miss a play. I’d glean a listen while tossing and kicking a maize and blue Nerf football to myself. Although occupied in our own activities, dad and I were together. He worked. I played. Yet, all the while I was stealing glances at my father, pondering the day I would grow to be just like him. To do manly work. To serve my family.

The smell of freshly cut grass in the cool of fall has always freshened those memories of my dad and football. Those memories will feel different now, but are nonetheless sacred. I’m forever bound to my father through those unique times we shared. Despite being an average player, he cheered like I was the best. His shouts for number 88 still reverberate in my soul. My father’s words of affirmation continue to have a profound impact on my manhood. He blessed me in ways that continue to bolster me in my marriage, my parenting and my work.

Beyond football, dad also loved to fish. His success varied, but his passion did not. He was infamous for his ‘black grub’ and ‘purple worm’ lures – which often caught more wind-burn than fish. I recall a time of poking fun at a yellow lure he inherited from his dad. It was big, beat-up and ugly. In my opinion, it was good only for catching weeds and submerged logs. Dad absorbed our pessimism without saying a word. He calmly tied-on the lure with an “I’ll show you” look in his eye. Once secure, dad cast ‘Mr. Ugly Lure’ a mile out…and promptly deceived a behemoth from the depths of Lake Cadillac.

We never did get whatever it was into the boat. From my perspective, that was a good thing for two reasons. One, I was young and scared of whatever it was dad was dragging toward our rowboat—a boat that suddenly seemed much too small. Two, because if he landed the scaly beast we’d never hear then end of how we mocked his lure which landed the catch of a lifetime.

For a while, dad fished year round. He, and his best friend David Haaksma made a habit of venturing out onto the winter ice of Reeds Lake in the dark of Saturday mornings. He and David had many adventures together – from eating 3 lbs of taco meet in one sitting to other things best not mentioned in a eulogy. Death came for David years ago. For those who loved him, it was much too early. Just like it seems my father’s death is premature. Yet, they both left us right on time. My guess is they have already recounted the days gone by. David was always coaxing my dad toward having fun. They could be a rascally pair. Much fun will be had in eternity by those two. Trusted, manly friendship is like buried treasure. Search it out. Find it. Savor it. Protect it. My dad had a good friend in David Haaksma. My dad had many good friends—because he was a good friend.

My father’s joy of football and fishing found close company with a chainsaw. He often mentioned the great satisfaction he felt when a hot stream of woodchips would pound upon his pant leg as he deftly sliced through a fallen tree. If there was a tree to be cut, he was there. Then after the cutting, in typical Sam De Man fashion, he’d head home and take all the necessary time to return the chainsaw to a pristine state. Just like he did with all his tools. Clean. Organized. Catalogued. Ready for use. It was impressive, if not compulsive. But it endeared us to him. He served us by always doing—and I mean always doing a job right and doing it right the first time. He was fond of saying “a job worth doing is worth doing right” and “never do half a job.” Thank you, dad, for blessing us with a second-to-none work ethic.

But dad was not all work, just like he wasn’t all play. The same man who coached ball, fished, bowled, laid tile, played softball, tore-down and hung drywall, dug-out stumps, soldered copper pipes, cut down rogue trees and has pictures of John Wayne lining his workshop was gentle, sensitive and caring. At his core he was a man who felt life deeply. Even in his propensity for wanting everything just so, he mustered the patience to teach his children how to drive a stick around the quiet roads of a cemetery. He sat quietly with a frustrated eight-grader and brought understanding to Algebraic equations scrawled on tear-stained paper. And I’m forever grateful for the time he calmly walked me to the bench on our front porch. There, we both cried unashamed over an uncertain future as I was in the midst of my own wrestling with cancer.

In his softness, my dad found courage. Courage to haul his family of five around the country.  We were rather conspicuous in our brown and tan van, green and white striped camper and mom’s handcrafted shirts that said “Let’s go camping.” Dad led us through the collecting of experiences and the building of cherished memories. Memories that have forever embossed themselves on our family psyche. We won’t ever exhaust the laughter from the memory of our wave-saturated Pictured Rocks boat tour complete with regurgitated bologna sandwiches and grape pop. In these, and many other ways my dad sacrificially served our family.

Someone recently asked my father how he managed to stay married for almost 45 years. His answer? “You serve your mate.” And he did. Dad married his high school sweetheart and became a lifetime one-woman man. He was faithful to his covenant with my mother till his dying breath. And while he had breath, every day he told her, “You’re special.” A healthy, vibrant, Christ-centered marriage was the best gift my father ever gave to my mom, and to us children. I pray his example will echo through the marriages of his children, grandchildren and beyond. Thanks, dad, for being a loving, faithful, trustworthy husband.

In so many ways, my dad made others feel valued and honored. He was a man well loved because he loved well. He was a man of impeccable integrity. A man who could be trusted – completely. A man who gave unconditionally. A man who was loyal – to an employer for almost 40 years – and to His God.

A bit more than sixteen years ago, my wife and I spread our wings and flew from the church of my youth and landed a few miles north of here. Dad and I reconnected in a spiritual sense through the men’s ministry at that church. He and I had the special pleasure of growing together in our effort to live as biblically authentic men. We worked-out our faith side-by-side. We built a legacy together. He watched me grow through the tensions of marriage and parenting.

As I grew into my own ministry settings, he blew winds of confidence over my fragile ego. He smiled as he listened to me teach. I could feel his fatherly pride. It warmed my soul. It filled my spirit in a way only a father can for his children. He told me often what a good dad I was. I reflected the compliment back to him. We spoke words of affection for each other. The spoken word is powerful. I treasure my father’s words to me.

Going forward, Thursday mornings at my church will be different. Incomplete and lonely – at least for a while. I will miss seeing dad arrive – 15 minutes early, of course – with his Bible, 3-ring binder, pen and highlighter. I long for just one more of his hearty handshakes coupled with his rye smile. My ears ache to hear him greet me just one more time – not with “hello” but his special blessing of, “my son.” He made me feel valued. Important. Honored. Thank you, dad.

One result from our shared spiritual journey the past several years came on Father’s Day in 2005. Dad wrote me a letter that accompanied a gift. In the opening his letter, he said this: “I have been contemplating writing this note and giving you some token to commemorate our relationship – something that would be a remembrance of some significance. I have agonized over this and had multiple second thoughts about what would be just right. I settled on a gift that would remind you of the direction that you should go and who should be your guide. Hopefully, when I am no longer around, it will bring to mind the good times we have shared and the father/son bond that we have developed.”

My gift was a compass. A poignant reminder to stay the course. To not drift. To walk wisely down the narrow path. My father knew where he was headed. He wanted to help me go there too, and in the best shape possible.

In the journey of life, we are all headed somewhere.

The question is: where are you headed?

Many would say my dad was a good man. Indeed, he was. The overriding theme of his life was gracious service. He was never afraid to go last. He always got the last hobo pie from the campfire. He was frequently last in line at church potlucks. For many years, he was the guy who turned-off the lights. But being good and doing good for the sake of goodness is empty. A long dead-end street. A journey that drifts and heads along a wide path to nowhere. Outside the context of faith in Jesus Christ, the good works of the best men have no lasting value.

What motivated my father was love. Love for God, and love for people. One man defined biblical masculinity as,”the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.” That was my father. He joyfully accepted responsibility. He sacrificed. And he did it because his Lord asked him to. He lived-out the instruction of I John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

My father didn’t serve to receive kudos or pats on the back. He didn’t give his best to get something in return. He gave now, to gain later. He worked hard to glorify the sacrifice of Jesus who gave his life for our gain. My dad lived in ways that led people to Jesus—literally and practically. He knew where he was headed. His heart’s compass pointed toward Jesus Christ.

So when dad’s perfect draftsmen’s print declined to illegible scrawls, when his hair went from never being out of place to not being there, when he could no longer communicate with words, he continued down the path of faith. Until the end, he lived-out his life verse:

Isaiah 40:30–31 (NIV)
“Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

My compass reminds me where I’m headed. I’m headed where dad is now.

As each of us ponders where we’re headed, we have to wonder if we’re good enough for heaven. Perhaps right now you’re wondering how to make-up for all the bad things you’ve done? The good news is that Jesus answers those questions for us. We aren’t good enough—but He is. We can’t make-up for the bad things we’ve done—but He can.

Through his death, Jesus made it possible to have a restored and good relationship with God. It doesn’t matter what you’ve said, done or thought. We’ve all got our junk. And doing a lot of good things, like my father, is not enough to cleanup the mess. Only faith in Jesus Christ and His ability to take care of our wrong-doing—our sin—puts us on good terms with the God of the Bible. Only by believing and receiving God’s forgiveness and grace can any of us enter heaven. The heaven where my father now rests and enjoys the reward of his labor. You can be assured of going there, too. By believing in the forgiveness of sin through Jesus. God’s Word, the Bible, tells us…

“But God is faithful and fair. If we admit that we have sinned, he will forgive us our sins. He will forgive every wrong thing we have done. He will make us pure.” 1 John 1:9 (NIrV)

Our hope – which is dad’s hope – is Jesus Christ. The truth of who Jesus is and what He’s done for each of us is why my father gave away so much. Why he served so many. Why he is remembered as a good man.

So, as we say a concluding goodbye to a wonderful man of God, I find comfort in the words of Martin Luther’s hymn, ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God.’ Luther reminds us of the battle we fight against a dark, powerful, ancient foe. He also insures we not forget who fights for us against our enemy. The One who give us hope—our Great Hope. Hope in the truth that just “one little word” brings victory. That Word is Jesus Christ. Here’s how Luther said it:

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

Dad now sees that Kingdom with clarity. He is again talking with his dad, whom he adored. He laughs about the ‘good ole’ days’ with his best friend. He walks and talks with Jesus. What a conversation that must be. I’m sure there’s a “well done” in there somewhere.

Sure, I’ve got lots of “why” questions.Sixty-six years seems but a short time to tarry here in this world. If I can live my own years half as well as Sam De Man, I will have lived well.

The tears come and go. I suspect they will for a while. In some ways, I hope they never stop. They honor my father, who was a great man. They acknowledge the pain of life. And they intensify a longing in my heart for the day when the vision of the Apostle John is made realty:

Revelation 21:3–4 (NIV)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’  or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Lord Jesus—come quickly!