It was raining when I got up today. The sky would have been just a little bit darker either way. Late last night, a man I respected greatly died. Ron Dunwoody was a saint. He was a father and a mentor to so many people. His quick wit and down home charm made him a guy that everyone seemed to gravitate toward. And now he’s gone.
It’s hard losing people we love dearly. I cried a lot last night. I thought mostly about Ron’s wife, Judi, and my heart was broken for her. They have been married for 48 years and now her best friend is not here. I imagined what it must be like to look around the house and be reminded of him everywhere. I pictured how lonely I would be without my own spouse. And I cried.
I am reminded of the shortest verse in the bible: John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.” This is the description the “disciple that Jesus loved” gives us of Jesus’ reaction to the death of his own friend. Lazarus had died and when Jesus showed up at the home of Lazarus and his two sisters and saw the gathering there he wept. Jesus saw the pain and anguish of the crowd and his heart was broken for them. They were weeping over the death of their brother or friend and it caused God the Son to cry.
Why do we cry at the loss of others? We miss them. We want them back. Innately, we all know that death isn’t supposed to be how it all ends. In the verse before John documents Jesus’ tears, Jesus has a different reaction. Most English translations say Jesus was “deeply moved,” but the Greek word used actually means to snort like a horse. Jesus was angry. He looked at death and the effect it has on his creation and it made him snorting mad. Jesus knew that this death was not the end of his friend Lazarus.
The sun broke through for the first time about three hours after I awoke. The dreary rain had relented and the sunlight was bright.
Ron was a believer. He trusted Jesus for his salvation. Ron was masterful at relating the faith to his childhood on a farm, his appreciation for his father, and a trip to the general store. He was able to tell a story in such a manner that I was enthralled every time the man started talking. Ron was always interesting, and ALWAYS able to bring it back to what Jesus Christ had done for him.
Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
I miss Ron already and he has not been gone 24 hours. Because of Jesus, I know I will see him again. Death is not the end. Because of Jesus, it is the next chapter. In true Ron fashion, allow me to bring it back to what Jesus Christ has done. Jesus lived the perfect life I do not, in my place. He died on the cross for the penalty of my sins. He rose victorious from the grave for my justification. Trust him.
Not many know the end is coming, but Ron did. He made peace with the reality early on. Ron still fought hard and suffered greatly. Cancer was a gift for Ron. If it were not for cancer, many who loved him deeply would not have known to tell him. I did. I hugged Ron every time I saw him. I told him how much he meant to me.
Tell those around you how much they mean to you today. Write a letter to your loved ones in case today is your last. Make peace with those you need to. And please… I beg you… Trust Christ.