Recently I attended the funeral for a lifelong friend, an event I refer to as graduation parties from mortality. This funeral were the latest of several funerals of lifelong friends I have attended recently. My generation has reached that time that Ecclesiastes 3:2 refers to as “a time to die.”
As I viewed my friends’ body in his casket, dressed in his mortality graduation robes, I shed several tears. We were close friends and had worked together in several organizations whose purpose was to enlighten Americans on America’s freedoms that the Lord gave to America via the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He was also my sounding board for many Tribune Observation columns prior to submitting them — to assure historical correctness.
Professionally he was a thirty-year professor of political science at Florida State in Tallahassee, and had a solid grasp of where America’s foundational documents of freedoms and liberty came from – God, via revelation through America’s Founding Fathers. His counsel was always brief and to the point – and always on track. And as members of the same church, we often discussed how the Bible influenced the Founders as they struggled to craft those documents that would restore freedom to a world then enslaved – both economically and spiritually – by tyrants.
We often pondered where Thomas Jefferson found those “just and holy principles” of freedom and liberty that he embedded deep within the Declaration. We both believed that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were special men, like Moses, that God, from time to time throughout history has raised up to perform a special event to free mankind from the evil hands of tyrants – as He did with the ancient Israelites. And we both strongly believed that Jefferson could not have written such a profound document without divine help flowing down from heaven deep into his soul as he knelt in prayer each of those sixteen nights it took him to craft America’s first freedom document – the document that not only declared America free but the document that has inspired billions to seek both economic and spiritual freedom for themselves.
Following the viewing came the graduation service – a tribute by family members to their father, grandfather and patriarch of a large and ever-growing family. Yes, there were tears, but they were not tears of sorrow, but they were tears of joy for a man who had accepted his role as a son, a father and grandfather and had led his family to know God the Father and His Son, even Jesus the Christ.
No one left that graduation service without knowing that my friend was a man of God, loved and revered by his family and countless friends. No one would leave that graduating service without knowing that this man knew that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the Church that Christ established during His ministry is in full operation today and is spreading around the world with His message of “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28) words descending down on all mankind like the dewdrops of heaven.
As with all graduating exercises, secular or spiritual, there are those who excel and there are those who simply ‘get by.’ So, as with one’s graduating from mortality, there will be those who will hear their Savior’s words, “… Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt 25:21). My friend was one of those who was prepared for his Savior’s second coming. His lamp of life was full of that oil that opens that door to eternal life.
The oil in his lamp of life was filled with the oil of service to both family and the Lord. In addition to meeting the demands of a demanding profession, and the raising of a large and active family, he was called to serve the Lord as a leader of hundreds, even thousands over the course of his life-long service in building the Lord’s kingdom here on earth. His faith was strong.
My friend not only loved his family and the Lord, but he also loved America, and strongly believed that America was a choice land, a land where God’s “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) had been restored via America’s Founding Fathers and through its foundational documents. My friend will be missed, not only by his family, but by all whom he taught and served in mortality.