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Message

Reverend Colin Green

I remember meeting Adrian at church several times. When we met, I had the sense that I was shaking the hand of a gentle man. He didn’t have an edge to him. He seemed like a man with peace in his heart.

The next time I met Adrian was in the hospital. He wasn’t well. He wasn’t happy about it either. But he was the exact same man I had met in church – gentle, relaxed, at peace, sure.

As we talked then, and on several occasions following, I never once saw Adrian change his position on his faith in God, or on his readiness to meet Him, or his sense of inner peace – that really did surpass my understanding.

I asked Adrian if he had anything he wanted to talk about – regrets, sorrow, things like that. He thought long and hard... the only thing he said was, “I think I could’ve been nicer to some of the guys who worked for me.”

Folks, if that’s all you have to confess, knowing that you will soon be in the presence of God; you have lived a pretty good life.

But that spoke volumes about the kind of guy that Adrian was. Faithful, peaceful, without enemies or anger, a gentle man – consistent – doing his best – hoping he could inspire those around him to do the same.

After talking with Adrian’s kids about Adrian – here’s what I have come to know... Here was a man that was loyal, faithful, the hard kind of worker. He was the salt of the earth kind of guy. Up early, worked all day and worked honestly and was known for his integrity and ability as a master electrician and engineer. He loved his wife and his kids and their kids. I have been struck by the love of the grand children for their grand dad, and the important role he has played in his grandkid’s lives.

I was also glad to learn from talking with Adrian that he was a born again Christian. His story is quite typical. He placed his trust in Jesus Christ - and in Christ alone for his salvation.

Adrian would be the first to tell you that he wouldn’t be the type to preach a sermon, but from what I have learned and from what you heard his son, Collin, say today – Adrian’s life was a sermon: rich with biblical principles and full of truth, faith, and love.

As a father, he gave his children a model of their Heavenly Father. Several of them have told me that learning about God and trusting His divine leadership in their lives was easier because they already have a dad with leadership qualities quite like the divine kind.

Key to this was that Adrian’s kids knew their value was not up for discussion – that was a settled issue, just like it is with the Heavenly Father. We are made in His image – he loves us – and wants what is best for us and He never changes on that point.

But if that is true... then why has Adrian left us? How is what we are feeling right now supposed to be God’s best for us – or for Adrian? How are we supposed to deal with all this?

On the one hand, we can proclaim that we have a deep faith, and we just place all this in God’s hands, and yet many of us come to afternoons like this and we have profound questions but we’re not sure anyone cares to really answer them or that anyone can.

First, let’s understand that it is alright to grieve. It is expected. Paul instructed us to go past sympathy to empathy when he said that we should "grieve with those who grieve."

Second, let’s remember that these things don't happen outside of God's knowledge. As King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -- A time to give birth, and a time to die."

Third, let’s also agree that death is the ultimate foe. Physically, it always finds its victory. As Adrian has submitted to his mortality, so too will each one of us submit someday. We cannot deny death. It is not just a part of life, it is a fact of life. But knowing about death, and even accepting its inevitability doesn't seem to lessen the pain of losing our loved ones.

We continue to ask the question, “Why?” What are we supposed to do with this? What do we learn from it? How is it supposed to comfort me? If you are God after all, why don’t you save me from moments like this? And why didn’t you keep Adrian from leaving us?

That is why we turn to God, the Creator, and acknowledge His presence, and His interest in Adrian's life and now his death -- and the certainty of our mortality.

Philippians 4: 6-7 tells us:  6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

If we will recognize God and bring to Him -- our needs, our loss, our pain, He will give us peace - and His peace will protect and lead us.

Psalm 46:1-2 says, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear..."

We needn't fear the unknown. God is there to provide in Himself, that place of safety and to be the strength we lack when our grief leaves us weak. We needn't be undone by death -- we may place our trust in the living God and He will give us life in exchange for death!

I can think of a number of places in the Scriptures where people ask the question: "Who will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven?" Perhaps you have asked this question as well. Many will worry about their loved one's place in heaven because he wasn’t “perfect” or " he didn't spend his life going to church."

But you see, the very thing that seems to be condemning is also our greatest hope. Entrance into heaven is not reserved for those who spend their lives going to church. Going to church isn't how you get to heaven! Heaven is and will always be, only for those who recognize their need for forgiveness and then call upon the name of the Lord.

Like the criminal on the Cross... He called upon the name of the Lord moments before he died. No good works, no purity, no wholesomeness, and yet, permitted to enter into God's Kingdom based on his confession of his sin and faith in Jesus as Savior.

I asked Adrian straight out about his relationship with God through faith in Christ – He was solid on it. He didn’t waiver, didn’t pause, and was totally confident. I have been at many bedsides in the hospital and there have been many people who try to answer this question, and they have no confidence, no answer, no depth, just a vacant hope that something on the other side will be kind to them.

We can – we must rest in that hope today. That Adrian, at a sacred and humble moment in his life came to the end of his self-sufficiency and confessed his need for forgiveness and placed his trust in Jesus Christ and Christ only for his salvation.

How does that work? There is a story of a boy and his dad driving in a car on a hot summer day with the windows down. The boy and the dad both knew that the boy had a severe allergy to bees and should he be stung he would most certainly perish. The hot summer breeze blew a bee into the car. The boy panicked. The drill was that the boy was to hit the floorboards while the dad tried to get the bee out of the car. The car was swerving and the dad was yelling and the boy was crying, and finally the dad said, “Son, it’s alright, you can come up now.” The boy asked if the bee was gone. The dad said, “the bee isn’t gone, but you can come up now, it’s safe.” The boy wanted to know why it was safe. The dad opened his hand and showed the bee with the stinger still in his hand and said, the bee’s dead, I took the sting, you’re alright.

This very thing is what prompted the Apostle Paul to challenge death when he said…

Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

A man was on his way to his wife’s funeral with his two children in the car. The car was quiet and pensive and the kids were trying to understand all this and to take it in and the dad finally said to the kids, would you rather be hit by a truck or the shadow of a truck? The kids replied, the shadow of a truck would be our choice. The dad said, “Well you need to understand that because of Jesus Christ your mother has not been hit by death, she’s only been hit by the shadow of it.” You see folks, when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and in him alone, the one who took the death for us, then death can’t come and take us. We’re hit by its shadow, we must respect it, we are mortal after all. But there is a way for you and me, as Adrian did, to know that we are covered so that death cannot actually hit us. So that the sting cannot actually hit us. And so we have the promise of eternal life.

This ceremony, you see, is not only to honour and remember Adrian – as one who has gone on to be with the Lord. It is also for those of us who remain. A funeral service serves as a stark reminder to us that one day; we will be the chief participant upon whom all eyes are fixed.

As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I would be remiss not to make you aware of God's gift and His invitation to exercise faith by placing your trust in His Son.

Adrian has realized his faith – he is in a place now and in a time now where his faith has been realized and where the Word of God is proven true!

John 5:24: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

Jesus laid his life down for Adrian when he died on the cross for his sins – making a way for him to be forgiven and claimed by God as His child, to be safe and loved by his Heavenly Father forever and ever.

John 1:12: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”

John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 6:47: “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.”

John 11:25: Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

Do you believe this?

Do you believe Adrian is safe in the arms of his Savior? Some of us are tempted to say, no… because we know Adrian possessed (as we all do) the ability to sin – to be imperfect – to fail at perfect Christianity. But Adrian has been forgiven for anything and everything he’s ever done wrong -- through the shed blood of Christ. So that the sting of death could not take his life and the shadow of death is all that passed over him.

Living less than a perfect life isn’t the unpardonable sin... a life of unbelief and rejecting Jesus IS the unpardonable sin.

If you never believe that God died for you… and you never ask Him to forgive you… and you never trust in Him to save you… The Bible says you will spend eternity apart from God instead of with Him.

And that message is the message that motivated faith in Adrian’s grandparents, and in his parents and in his brother, and in him. It’s a faith that on days like this we need to fear because it is a great thing. And a terrible thing to overlook.

I am grieving with Adrian’s family today, I am grieving with you today. But I am not grieving for Adrian today. I know Adrian is missing you and is feeling for you today – but he isn’t grieving for himself.

He is in the presence of God – the physical veil of this world has been peeled all the way back for him and he is seeing the big picture for the first time. He believed it was there and that it was real, but now he knows it to be so.

Adrian knew that this was going to hurt you, we talked about that. And yes, he wanted more time with every one of you. We talked about that. But more than anything, I promise you, what Adrian wants to come out of this afternoon is not prolonged tears, but he would rather that at this time you to consider your life, your faith, and in whom you will place your trust…

Because as Adrian could tell you right now, if he were here to speak for himself, there’s only really a couple of things that matter in this whole life. God is one, first and foremost, and loving your family is next.

Let’s pray.

Father, thank you for today, and thank you for these grand testimonies of a fine man. Thank you for the years of investment he has made in this marriage and in these children, and in his children’s children. Thank you that he was a man that was impressive and impacting. A man who was smart. And knew how to use it to help people, to benefit the company he worked for, or to benefit the farm house way back when he was just a young man. Lord, we pause and really do thank you for him. We also want to say goodbye to him. I pray that as a result of today, and with Adrian’s testimony, and in his faith and in the message brought today, the truth of these scriptures, Adrian’s grandest prayer would be answered, that others would follow him all the way to heaven. It’s one thing to call him a mentor, it’s another to call him a leader, it’s another to call him dad, but imagine the great thing it is for a man to be followed all the way to heaven where the faith of his friends and family would also be rewarded with eternal paradise. We love you and we trust you.

In Jesus' name, Amen.