This Day Will Never Come Again

When my family was in Macedonia in January, my Dad’s closest friend and mentor passed away. They had known each other for 39 years. Gib officiated at my parents’ wedding; he baptized me when I was seven; he buried my Grandfather. And I can’t even begin to describe how much he shaped my Dad’s thoughts on theology, on fellowship, on marriage, on confession, on counseling. Gib was one of those incredibly rare people whose life is about serving others. There was something special about him, something transformed and transformative. After being in his presence or having a conversation with him, I felt like the “old self” in me — that dark, ugly, fallen part — would sort of shrivel up, overpowered by that sense of a “new self” committed to that which God had called me to — the light, redemption, the truth that refines us and sets us free. This is the power of God at work through another human being, a human being who loves Him and listens to Him. 

I wasn’t able to attend Gib’s funeral back in Washington, because I’d returned to California and college life, but Dad sent me a copy of the eulogy he would speak at the memorial service. 

“Friendship and fellowship are fundamentally deepened by the knowledge that another human being is truly present with us in compassion, empathy and love,” Dad wrote. “I knew that if Gib said he would pray for me, he did. …I knew that he shared in my life — a kind of presence that is hard to describe. This quality of service and ‘bearing with me’ made my world seem a little less lonely and inhospitable…” 

He ended with Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” Like my Dad, I, too, could hear Gib’s voice speaking these words. 

This might sound strange, but I remember that when Gib would talk with me, it was as if he assumed I was a good person, as if he trusted that I loved God. And the funny thing was, it made me want to be a good disciple of Christ. It made me be better, run back to the arms of my Heavenly Father. Gib had faith in me because he trusted that I was in God’s hands. 

He didn’t have to know I hadn’t cracked open my Bible in months. He didn’t have to know the decrepit state of my ‘prayer life.’ Because the way Gib spoke about God opened up these floodgates that let others, including myself, speak about God too. It seemed almost ridiculous to doubt God at all when I was around Gib, for Gib’s faith was so unwavering, so… fiercely solid. This was evident in his eyes, and it was terrifying and lovely and challenging and calming all at once, sort of like the way we experience God, I suppose.

For months now I’ve had a little card with a Thomas Merton quote pinned to the bulletin board above my desk. On it is scrawled in bold blue script, “This day will never come again!” 

Now, as I think of Gib, this short sentence is imbued with a new depth of meaning.

Gib ran the race faithfully. I have no doubt he is one of those that God will greet with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Among the sweetest words we could ever hear.   

How did you spend this day, this day that will never come again? Did you listen to God? Did you love God, and love others because of it? Did the power of God work through you? 

It really comes down to this: 

Did you perpetuate the darkness, or did you loft high the light? Are you honoring God with your daily life and interactions with others, or are you not?

Continue in what you have learned. Continue in what you have firmly believed. Know from whom you learned it. 

As he prepared for Gib’s memorial service and the words he would speak there in commemoration of his dearest friend, my Dad told me, “I just want to honor Gib, and honor Jesus.” 

There is no doubt in my mind that Dad did, and does. 

And there is no doubt in my mind that I just want to honor Gib and honor Jesus too. 

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