I noticed him the first time we ever visited that church. He sat way up front in the sanctuary, next to his wife and four daughters. He had a long blonde pony tail that hung down his back. I suppose that is why I noticed him.
It was years really before I ever met him or his family. Mostly the others in the church all seemed to know each other, turns out they are all related to each other in some way or another. Which makes 'newbies' like Dan and myself struggle to fit in a bit. We were also newly weds and not very regular in services, we were trying to find God and what He wanted for us.
Truth is- he didn't even know it, but he made me feel comfortable there. I figured he was a motorcycle guy with his long pony tail and somehow it comforted me to know that everyone could worship there together. Dan and I were biblically uneducated sinners and I didn't want to learn of the Lord in an atmosphere of judgement. It doesn't make sense- but it is where I was. As the years moved on, we got to meet this man and his family and it turns out he was in fact not a harley davison biker dude- but in fact a farmer of the earth and one of the most knowledgeable men of Christ and His teachings that I've ever met.
Every Sunday he was at church. He served on council, rang the bell at the start of service when needed, knew everyone, the business operations of the church, and always spoke to us. But more importantly, this man knew God. There are very few things that I will ever treasure as much as the time that we spent in he and his wifes Sunday School class. His knowlege and belief is something that I have felt blessed to experience at more than one time in my life. In fact- I feel blessed to just have known him, really. Dan and I have more than once reflected on how we would like to live our lives as they do- for the Lord. When Bruce spoke of God- it was like he was relaying a message. Something that he knew with every ounce of who he was. And he was comfortable in doing so.
He lived what he believed. He seemed simple on the outside- not flashy or overdone. Not fancy or outspoken. But at his core- the part that really matters, he was covered with flashy huge diamonds that shine even in the dark- he was deep, devoted and faithful. He served God with his actions, his conversations, his interaction with people, his love of his wife and daughters, with his life.
Last Monday morning- early- we awoke while in Florida to our cell phone ringing. It was a familiar voice, telling us that Bruce had died unexpectedly the night before. Unexpectedly to us- but I bet the Lord had been counting down the days since the day he breathed life into him. Because this man- he deserves to live with Jesus. But his family- they should have gotten to keep him a while longer. Their grief will be strong for a long time, no one ever leaves the earth without leaving a hole. But the hole that Bruce leaves- it is large.
We contemplated coming home from Florida. Somehow I don't know that it will ever feel real if we didn't attend his funeral. But we decided my father in laws time seems to be growing shorter on this earth, and we should stay there and embrace the opportunity to enjoy them----and so we did. But my thoughts, prayers and time were spent reflecting on this man, his wife, his beautiful daughters, his impact on this world.
I'm sure he never knew of the impact he and his family have had on my life. And if he did, he would have turned it all back to Jesus- because that is the kind of man he was. And I thank God that I got to know him, even if only for a little bit. And today I am praising God for the legacy that he leaves in his family.........they are some of the best people I have ever met.
I have struggled all week with what I wanted to say about Bruce. And I have decided that Dan probably said it the best when he said "The world lost a good man". I couldn't agree more.
To his wife Paula, his daughters Sarah, Emma, Laura & Martha (and his 'like daughter' Beth)- I will continue to pray for God's peace to rest upon you.
There is no comfort like the promise of eternal life paid for in full by Jesus the Christ, till we meet again................