Many years ago, you picked up a paintbrush and began painting a stunning depiction of a vision that ran far past even your own lifetime. As I stand here among staff, some of your closest friends and family, my heart is full. My heart is full because I have the privilege of gazing into the picture that the Lord moved your heart towards so many years ago.
As I think about that picture, I’m reminded of the first time that I tried to learn how to ride a bike. I remember the training wheels that helped guide me around the neighborhood that gave me the confidence for future moments where I would ride without them. And I remember all too well, my own father holding my bike and the comforting words as he held it in his hands, with me sitting on the seat and gripping the pedals, “I’m going to get to you started,” he would say. “I’ll hold you up for a little while…but then I’m going to let go”.
And when I first started to ride, my father was by my side, holding me up and steadying my uneasiness, helping me gain the self-belief that I would be able to one day ride alone.
The truth is that you’ve been guiding our hands along the canvas, shadowing each stroke, helping us hold the paintbrush for the picture that you started painting so many years ago. And on January 14th at 6:43am for the first time, you let go of the brush. And I have to admit before you even now, that much like when dad let go of the bike, life is a little bit scarier without your guiding hand.
But I hear you saying even now, “Bikes were meant to be ridden and not guided. You’ll fall…but you will eventually get up.”
And so today we are standing in front of the canvas, admiring the painting and all of its grandeur. It’s a picture filled with the spirit of the Lord guiding many towards a real relationship with their heavenly father, and as we look into it, we know this painting was meant to be finished. While I’m somewhat unsure of how to paint without your guiding touch, you helped to instill the self belief in all of us that as we begin to paint, we will paint well.
There are whimsical colors that must be added. There are strokes that must be gently and eloquently brushed, and so today, I want to commit to you upon behalf of a generation that has called you “Papa” that we will pick up your paint brush and we will continue on...
We will paint with the color of righteousness, choosing not to use the events of yesterday and today as a reason not to fulfill God’s plan for tomorrow. We will remain virtuous and of noble character. We will forgive the offenses that others commit against us, as we have watched you hold little record of wrong against those in your life. We will hold close sacred values that you have modeled:
We promise not to take ourselves too seriously as we work, realizing that we are only vessels. We loved your humility; how you didn’t brag about your accomplishments. We watched you smile and we loved your contagious laugh. We will live life colorfully and vibrantly.
We will not paint at the expense of family, which you have modeled for us, setting aside time to show us the way a husband should love a wife, our Nana, with whom you loved with your whole heart.
We will fashion our brush with strokes of love working hard to treat every brother and sister in Christ equally and loving all outside the body with a spirit of tenderness, affection and humility.
We will spread our colors under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We will be quick to listen, slow to speech. We will pray for answers and listen for solutions. We will work outside of ourselves and ask God to guide every movement that we make. We will not lean on our own understanding, but we will instead, let God lead the way.
We will mentor and teach those coming after us how to seize the brush. We will use each day to fashion strands between this generation and the next to create an echo of the values that you have taught us.
To trust quickly
To love swiftly
To listen wisely
To worship passionately
To pray continuously
We don't know if we will finish the picture. That’s not up to us to determine. But we will spend the time that we have left, painting furiously with all of our might.
Thank you starting the beginning of a beautiful painting. Thank you for guiding those before us and thank you for instilling the values in us, which will help us create future artists working in tandem with the creator who makes all things well unto himself.
We will paint…so that God may be glorified.