Late last night I received news that a beloved friend, mentor, and teacher had passed away. I knew it was a possibility because earlier that weekend I had read online about his heart struggling and his body fighting to gain strength. Even still, when I heard the news, so many feelings overwhelmed me. I laid in bed, shared with my husband, and I cried. I cry. I cry often and I cry a lot. Yet, I’ve never experienced what I experienced in my tears last night.
My tears for him were not sad tears. My sad tears were for his wife who will now live without him by her side. My sad tears were for his family and loved ones who are mourning his loss. My sad tears were for his community that will now tell his amazing stories in third person because he is no longer here to tell them. My sad tears, well, they were for all of us because the truth is from this point forward we will navigate this earth with one less mentor, leader, example, teacher, and friend by our sides.
My tears for him though, they were happy tears. They were happy because anyone that knew him, knows that today he has heard the words “well done good and faithful servant”. I know that we aren’t supposed to be the judge, but there is no doubt about the kind of man that he was. There is no doubt about whether or not he is resting in the arms of our Savior right now. His entire life was dedicated to living as closely to Jesus as he could.
He served for years as a missionary in Africa, years as a professor at Bible college, years as a pastor, friend, and mentor. I could keep going and listing ways that he spent his life serving others in the name of Christ. Yet, the legacy that he leaves behind is greater than the things he did, it’s also in the things I never saw him do. Talking with my husband this afternoon, I cried, mumbling out one phrase after the other…
“I never saw him get angry.”
“I never heard him raise his voice.”
“I never saw him pass another individual without flashing a smile.”
“I never left his office feeling like he was too busy for me.”
“I never witnessed him be harsh with his wife.”
“I never felt like he was proud or arrogant.”
“I never heard him take credit for the work that God was doing in him.”
…After a long pause…
“If something happened to me today, what would the people who know me have to say about me?” I asked. My husband looked up, tears in his eyes and said “I’ve been thinking about the same thing all day.”
Even though our dear friend has gone, his influence will last for generations. The most beautiful thing is that when I think of him, I think of Jesus. You see, it was never about him in the first place. Not a day spent on this earth was a day wasted for the Kingdom of God. He will leave behind a Larry Doggett sized legacy that I hope will continue to impact people, but only because he lived a God sized life.
I hope that someday, hopefully when I’m old and have lived a long and faithful life that those who know me can cry happy tears alongside their tears of sadness. What a beautiful challenge to all of us he has left behind that we too might live a God sized life so that others will say “when I think of her, I think of Jesus.”