He never will be again.
And so we have lost our "bookends." Wayne and the other neighbor we met before anyone else, Tom Hill, are both gone now. We still find ourselves thinking, "We need to ask Tom about that," or, "Let's go see what Wayne knows." Habits, even of thought, die hard. Unfortunately, people do not. Life is fragile, and we have been slammed with that truth far too often lately: a good friend and brother in the Lord, one you could talk to about anything, one we raised pigs with, and with whom we raised our children; a sister who carted me back and forth to the doctor after my worst surgery—a trip that put 100 miles on her car every time she did it, over and over again, who advised me on these posts—"Make them challenging," she told me, "That's what we need"—who supported me in my classes, who advised me in cooking, cleaning, sewing, and hospitality; and now our two best neighbors, the first two we met here, who never let us down, and were the epitome of "a good neighbor."
I noticed this morning as I walked Chloe that even the property looks different now. Instead of the warm fuzzy feeling of home, it seemed unfriendly and almost unfamiliar. That's what happens when someone you have grown to count on is no longer down the drive or across the field, when you realize you will never have the pleasure of their talk, the security of knowing help was just a phone call away, nor the benefit of their common sense advice again—for not all of these people we have lost were believers. That fact makes the hurt so much worse.
And all of these losses also brings home the fact that our turn is coming. What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? — Selah, Ps 89:48. It may be quite a few more years; but then, it may be tomorrow. And though we have known that all our lives, suddenly it seems so much closer.
Now is the time we lean on those promises.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Ps 23:4
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive…The last enemy that is abolished shall be death. 1 Cor 15L21,22,26
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1Thess 4:13-18
And so as this world becomes less and less hospitable, as it seems more and more alien to us, it becomes easier to imagine that day, whenever it may come, however it may come, as a blessing. And just as losing these people has left us with a hollow, empty feeling, may we strive more and more to be that to others—someone they will miss, someone they will wish to see again, and maybe in that desire, they will find it easier to overcome that old Serpent, so they can see us again someday too.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Ps 73:23-24