A friend of mine died yesterday. I met him at one of the hospitals where I volunteer. He was a resident there. I first met him when I was visiting with another resident who has also become a friend. Before I sang to the larger group at this particular facility I would come and sing and read the Bible to this individual and sometimes one or two others. One day while singing to two residents in a smaller room I thought I heard a man’s voice singing along with me. I looked up and noticed that he had joined us. I continued on with the other hymns and he continued to sing along. It was beautiful. He would agree and bless the Lord after each song. I knew without a doubt that we shared a genuine love for God.
After the little time together with the tiny group I introduced myself as he did. But the first thing I said to him was, “So you’re obviously a believer.” He tearfully confirmed and then began to tell me how much the previous half hour had touched him. In those few minutes that we shared I felt like I had glimpsed the kind of fellowship and adoration of God that we will have in Heaven. We both cried as we talked of God’s goodness and faithfulness. We had never met before that day, yet it was as if we knew each other. It felt like we were surrounded and even covered or immersed in a small capsule of eternity as God allowed us that short time of joining together in worship and communion with Him. I had never been more aware of the whole family of God dynamic. He was suffering with physical difficulties and had lived and loved and lost in his long life. Yet only gratitude remained in his heart. What an encouragement for me that day. His heart soared with encouragement as well. Just a chance meeting, some might say, but I knew it was a gift of fellowship from God.
It was soon after that meeting that I started to minister to a larger group in a larger room. He would never miss our gathering if it was up to him. He was one of my biggest encouragers as he would affirm the gifts of music I brought and their value to him and to others. He would sing along when he could and then agree in prayer. He was a light in our midst and a good friend to the others.
Today I heard the news of his passing from the pain of this life to the freedom and beauty of eternity. I missed his tears, his encouraging words, and his beautiful singing voice as we carried on. It feels strange that he won’t be there with us in those gatherings anymore. I feel sad about that. He was already missed by me and his friends. I can’t help but to imagine him in Heaven. How happy he must be! I could cry again just thinking about it. He is laughing and dancing and weeping with overwhelmed tears in the presence of His beloved Savior. I’m happy for you, friend. I am rejoicing with you. You will be missed. We will see you. Because of God’s great love and provision through Jesus’ great sacrifice, His redemption and resurrected life, we will see you again, brother. Until then, receive your reward, as you hear those longed for words, well done, good and faithful servant.