Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Tribute to a Friend

As I write this it is about 6:30 in the evening on June 23, 2007 and I have just returned from the funeral of one of my closest friends, Dahl Irvin. Dahl was born March 13, 1953 and passed away unexpectedly on June 17, 2007.
I don't remember exactly when we met, but as near as I can figure it was about twenty years ago. I was volunteering as a leader for the local chapter of Youth for Christ, and the area director arranged for all of the volunteers to attend a seminar on prayer that was being conducted by one of the local pastors in our area. The leader of the seminar turned out to be Dahl.
At this point in time I had also been playing guitar in a Christian Heavy Metal band and my wife and son and I had been attending a church that the rest of band members were attending. We were unhappy at this church and felt like we were not growing spiritually. As we talked about what we should do I remembered the seminar that I had attended and all that I had learned so we decided that we would check out the church where Dahl pastored.
We began attending a Sunday evening Bible study that Dahl was leading at the church with about 8-10 other people and before long we had completely left our other church and moved our membership over there. As we continued to attend this church Dahl and I began a friendship that lasted twenty years and the news of his passing earlier this week came as a great and unexpected shock.
As we made the six hour trip home today after the funeral I had plenty of time to reflect and to pray and to cry (and I am sure I am not done yet), and I stated to make a list in my head of all the things that Dahl taught me over the years:
He taught me that Christianity is not a religion - it is a relationship.
He taught me that prayer doesn't have to be pretty, but it does have to be passionate.
He taught me that legalism doesn't help anyone, grace does, and then he taught me the meaning of grace by the way that he lived his life.
He taught me to love the Bible, and to be a student of the Word.
He taught me to love the writings of A.W. Tozer.
He taught me to love Anne Rice, the Blues, Barbeque, and Jimmy Buffett.
He taught me that 300 miles was not enough distance to extiguish a friendship.
And today he taught me that I have something other than Jesus to look forward to in Heaven.
Augustine wrote, "We have not lost our dear ones who have departed from this life, but have merely sent them ahead of us, so we also shall depart and shall come to that life where they will be more than ever dear as they will be better known to us, and where we shall love them without fear of parting."
So as I remember my friend I think about good times, the bad times, the hours that we spent together over the years, and I miss him more than I ever thought I would. But he is happy now; he is with his Savior, and he is looking forward to the day, just as I am, when we will be reunited.
I love you. Until we meet again...
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