On the Plains of Moab Blog
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November 3, 2012, 7:09 PM

So Long, Friend

A friend of mine from Orlando passed away on Reformation Day.  His name was Bob.  Good guy.  I am going to miss him.  I regret that I could not be in Orlando today for his funeral service.  So, I did the next best thing.  I e-mailed my own tribute to be shared.  I hope that it was encouraging to the family.

Bob was a member of Woodbury Presbyterian Church.  This is the church where I served for nearly four years as a seminary intern.  I remember that he used to kid me that I was so boring in the pulpit as to be dangerous.  He called me "Dr. Death."  In recent years, he pulled back on that assessment and said that I'd made wonderful progress.

Bob also took note of my strange love affair with the Virginia Tech football program.  He never did actually know what a Hokie was.  I was the only one he'd ever met.  He had great fun with all the ways he could play off the Hokie Pokie.  I remember back in 1999, druing the the National Championship game when the Hokies lost to Florida State, he actually picked up the phone to call me during the second half to rub it in that Tech was going to lose.  Some day, I will forgive him for that indiscretion.

But, I want to tell you, this guy really loved Jesus.  And I loved him.  I want you to know him, too, because I know you would have loved him as well.

Here is my long-distance tribute that I shared today:

My heart is heavy.  Pat and Jamie, I am so sorry.  My prayers and my thoughts have been with you and will stay with you.

To Bob:  In the week before you passed, I had you on my mind.  It was disappointing that in my last two trips to Orlando, I did not get to have that lunch at Sonny’s with you, Bob.  I understood, of course, there were other things going on.  You were in the middle of the fight of your life.

I watched the two YouTube videos that you recorded for the family at Woodbury.  (Here and Here)  The first one, classic you, Bob.  Humor fully intact.  (The singing in the choir thing never gets old!)  Overflowing with the joy of the Lord.  Praising Him for the strength to make it through very difficult days.  Knowing that He loved you even more than you loved Him…and that is saying a lot, ‘cause you really loved Jesus, Bob, and that was so evident.

That second video you made, made from the rehab center in Tampa, will stay with me for good.  I saw your heart breaking, even as you were still so obviously in love with your Lord.  Always, no matter what.  The tear in your eye at the end, I will never forget.  You loved life.  You loved your wife and your daughter and your friends.  You were THE man.  You had so much more to do, to experience.  So much more to give.  Bob, you are still the MAN.

Thanks for your example.  Thanks for your friendship.  Thanks for the laughs.  Thanks for your laugh.  Thanks for the tips to good restaurants.  Thanks for the graciousness.  Thanks for the hospitality.  And…………..Thank you even for the sermon critiques.

By the way, my preaching hasn’t killed anyone yet -- no Eutychus on my résumé to report so far.

Bob, we still need to do lunch.  I am counting on that lunch someday.  I CAN count on that.  You know that very well.  Because.  We will meet again.  Of that, I take a great measure of comfort.  Even on a day like this.  Resurrection is a beautiful word, Bob.  And resurrection belongs to the both of us because of our common love of Jesus.

When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!  When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!

Well done.  Well done.  Well done.  My friend.

See you sometime.  I’ll pick up the tab.

Much Love,


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