I HATE GOODBYE’S!

13 12 2014

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I had just seen my buddy Dave this summer. It was June 20th to be exact. He had come down from his home in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania to spend some time with me at The Lighthouse Church. It was the first time I had seen him in a few years. We had been roommates when we both attended Philadelphia College of Bible and graduated together in 1982. He had been to my wedding and I was the best man in his. The Friday that we were recently reunited, we had lunch together at the Star Diner and we both felt so good about catching up. There was no denying that life had thrown its share of curve balls our way through the years, but we still had encouraged one another and were both glad of the way that neither of us had lost our faith along the journey. We also were able to recount many blessings that we were both very grateful for. As a matter of fact, one could say that it was the difficulties in both of our stories that we admitted had actually made our relationship with the Lord more real and relevant than ever before. I have learned that trials either make you better or bitter and much depends upon how you receive them. I can honestly say that I was proud of the way that Dave had stayed positive despite many negative things done to him especially recently. He was definitely a humble and godly man and what you saw was what you got!

On Sunday November 30th, a bomb was detonated upon my heart! After preaching at The Lighthouse and having lunch again at the Star Diner with friends from church, I came home to receive the news that Dave was dead. He had taught Sunday School to the children as he had been doing over these last few years and did not feel well after his last class. He was taken to the Emergency Room of the local hospital where he suffered a massive heart attack and was taken to Heaven almost immediately, His dear wife Jennifer did not get to say, “Goodbye.” In a moment, in a flash- Dave was in the presence of his God and we were all left behind with big chinks of our hearts missing! Talk about being hit head on by a speeding locomotive! I was in a state of numbness and shock.

On Thursday December 4th, which just happened to be my wife Terri and my 32nd wedding anniversary, we went back to the neighborhood in Pennsylvania where we had met to pay our respects and offer our condolences to the family and friends of the man who had been with us on that day in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 1982! We were now together again in Neshaminy- but this time with tears and brokenness and many questions that we knew were not going to be answered! I broke down when I hugged Dave’s Parents who I had known and hung out with many times back in our younger days. My cry became a wail and I ended up making those unattractive noises that draws attention when you try to stop your sniveling but only make it worse because the dam of emotion had already been busted! Dave was now in Paradise and we were all left here without him. Happy for him because we knew the peace he was experiencing but so sad for us- especially for his wife Jen and sons Nathan and Joshua. Christmas is coming and without a word of warning- Dave would not be here to share it with his family and friends. In a moment, everything changed! Life shows itself to be so fragile and the body proves to be feeble. We all know it in our heads but oh what a sock in the gut it becomes when death comes knocking at your own front door.

Dave had been called to the ministry also, like myself, back in our days of youth. While my calling was to the pastorate, Dave had always had a heart to work with the children. If a man’s legacy may be judged in the way that he treats women and children- Dave was at strong as steel and yet as gentle as they come in all the best ways! Kids just were drawn to him and he had taught many a young person about faith in Jesus. Dave worked with Child evangelism Fellowship for many years but the last two he had found himself employed not at a church but at Citizens Bank wondering if God would ever use him again. I know he was sad that he was not doing what I know brought him so much joy. But God was very much at work with Dave where he was for such a time that he was. At the Memorial Service, three of Dave’s co-workers indicated that they had surrendered their hearts in faith to the Lord Jesus. I looked up and gave Dave the biggest thumbs up and smiled through my red and misty eyes. God had continued to use my friend even when he thought he was not where he was supposed to be. In light of this, maybe the lesson is not so much where we are but who we are while we do what we do. It is not the title that makes the man but the man that defines his testimony! Maybe it is time to stop complaining about who you are not and start allowing God to use who you are! This may be the exact place that God has for you and there may not be a tomorrow to get accomplished what the Lord longs to do through you today!

I found the college photograph that Dave had signed for me at our graduation. His last line to me was, “P.S. I hate goodbyes.” Me too, Dave! Me too! And thanks be to God that because He sent his son at Christmas to love us in a way that nobody else would or could and because Jesus lived the life he lived and died the death he did- and rose from the grave- by grace through faith for those who receive him- well we will never have to say goodbye again. Eternal life is not living forever after you die! Eternal life is living forever even knowing that you will die! And when death knocks on the door- it is only a moving day! I wish you all this Christmas- Jesus! Please open up the room in your heart and receive your king! Let him take you where you could never travel without him! Soon and very soon- I am going to see the King and Dave! I can’t wait!


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13 12 2014
dcashley

Thanks, Rudy. Dave and I played soccer for PCB. Early on, we were assigned to the JV squad. He played goalkeeper, and I was a fullback. We were playing an away game in Allentown. I went up in the goal area to head a ball that was crossing through. Dave came out to punch the ball away. My head got interposed between his massive fist and that poor ball. That was the best header I ever made! I was shocked to hear the news, but I too am thankful for his life, his legacy, and the certainty of his location and disposition today! See you again soon, Moose!

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