There was the adventure of becoming a pastor. You didn't see that one coming. Yes, you were a leader in your Roseville church, you served in Christian Endeavor, impacting a province for Christ. But when the invitation to consider serving God as a pastor was presented, that changed everything. You resisted it. You doubted it. You didn't believe you could do it. But you set off on the journey to do it.
There was the adventure of going to college in a different country. You didn't think it was possible. Sure, your younger sister had gone and done it - but could you? She believed in you, helped convince you it was possible. Your life of farming had it's routines and setbacks, predictability and dangers - should you leave it all behind? Would you succeed? There was only one way to find out.
You went, you worked, you studied, you got married, you graduated, then worked and studied more and graduated again, got ordained, got your first son, then your first church.... Almost 40, with a Master's degree, starting life over again, achieving what you didn't think was in your future, in ways that you didn't see coming.
There was the adventure of taking Rozanne Stucky as your beloved wife. Two quiet but kindred spirits, coming together from two different countries, two very different families, yet together facing a new future as one. She drove a Mustang, you drove tractors; you ate head cheese, she ate tenderloins. You the farming Canadian man, she the small-town American girl, but together you gave each other a new beginning, a new family, a new way to serve wherever God would send you.
There was the adventure of becoming a father to Tim, Jeremy, Matt, Ben. And Mike. And Willie. And Don. And other boys, other men who have flourished under your steady gaze, strong hands, gentle heart, wise words, nourishing convictions, hope-full faith, thought-full love. The seven of us boys are proud to have called you Dad.
There was the delightful adventures of welcoming Tara into the family, of welcoming Maria into the family, of welcoming Jana into the family. And more wonderful adventures with becoming a Grandpa! Savoring summers at Lake Pleasant, celebrating with birthday cakes and Christmas feasts with the chatter and laughter of all those adventurous grandkids: Emma, Levi, Isaac, Eli, Eva, Lydia, Cameron, Mia, Avery, Brooklyn.
We are your gifts to the world, adding more goodness and grace to the family and friends God has brought around us. As a Dad you made much possible for us, taking us along on your adventures to new places, new people, new experiences. You believed in us. You were proud of us. You served us. You sent us off on our adventures. You gave us your blessing. And then you continued to be a blessing to us.
You also had to endure the unwanted, the heart-wrenching adventure of saying good-bye to Ben, and to Matt. Oh the fear, the weeping, the bewilderment, the crushing grief. These unexpected travails were thrust on your shoulders, shoulders that shuddered with weeping, shoulders that sagged under the weight of sorrow, but shoulders that we all leaned against, strong shoulders that led us through, shoulders that carried us along - in faith, in hope, and in love.
We can't stop the adventures from coming. But what we do with the adventures that God sends to us, that's the story of our life. And your life, your story, it inspires me, us, to keep believing in God, to keep loving one another, to be a servant to many, to stay a student, a follower of Jesus, until the last breath.
You were the kind of leader who led quietly, you were the kind of man who served behind the scenes. You were a hard worker, you were reliable and trustworthy, a man of your word, diligent in what you set your hand to. With the doubts and insecurities you carried around, with the fears and envy that every working man has to wrestle with, you did so such that you chose contentment and diligence. With where God called you, you went trusting, and teaching through your life. Thank you.
Fare well, Dad, and God speed. You fared well here, Dad. You provided for your wife well, for your children and grandchildren and future generations. You provided for your church, for other ministers and missionaries, other charities and good works. You fared well and paid attention to the welfare of many. Thank you.
Along your journey, you inspired many to trust God, to follow Jesus, to listen to the Spirit. May what you inspired in us be continued, may God continue what he started in you- through me, through us, through all your family, through my children, through all those you baptized and ministered to - for generations to come.
"What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. And so this is good-bye.
You're not going to see me again, nor I you, you whom I have gone among for so long proclaiming the news of God's inaugurated kingdom. I've done my best for you, given you my all, held back nothing of God's will for you. Now it's up to you.
I'm turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends. I've never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with me.
In everything I've done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You'll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, 'You're far happier giving than getting.'"
So: God speed on your next adventure, may you fare well there too. May it be full of the unexpected, may it be an odyssey of more happiness than what we could ever ask for or imagine. We turn you over to our marvelous God who is now making you into what he wants you to be...