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Living and Finishing Well in Christ

April 22, 2012

I know I speak for all of us when I say I will miss him. He was a dear brother who literally would give the shirt off of his back to one in need. I’ve no doubt he was sometimes taken advantage of because of his generosity, but he didn’t seem to mind. He would go anywhere and meet anyone if there was a remote chance to share the gospel. To him there were only two kinds of people in the world: those who had come to know Jesus, and those who needed to come to know Jesus. Social status, race, educational level, past mistakes, none of it mattered to him, only Jesus. Long ago he had learned what it was to die to self and live in Christ and by Christ and through Christ, and this last week he showed what it is to finish well in Christ.

At age 18 he had every reason to live for himself. A gifted athlete. Bigger and stronger than any of his peers, he was living every young mans dream. His future seemed tied to his ability to throw a football and scramble from a pocket. Then cancer came calling…..and the treatment to eradicate it. Suffice it to say, his athletic career was over. Life had taken a very different course. The cancer was halted, but at a terrible cost. For the next 28 years he would endure the battle wounds of the cancer’s defeat.

Many, if confronted with his future, would have been driven to despair and bitterness. But that was not the future God had for him. His feet became planted on the rock of Jesus and his physical affliction only caused him to embrace the cross that much harder. I once told him that he will be easy to identify in the resurrection because his body will be covered with splinters from hugging the cross. He who had basked in athletic glory now was driven by bringing glory to his Savior. Anytime, anyplace Jesus could be exalted he was ready to give an answer for the hope he had. He had learned through his affliction to live well in Jesus. He had become a mighty man in Christ.

I really wasn’t that surprised to read D.M.’s email of his conversation with him a week ago. He was preparing to begin the process of receiving an artificial heart yet asked for prayer to be bold in the number of witnessing opportunities the prep would bring. He was afflicted, but not crushed; …struck down, but not destroyed. Jesus was on his heart, mind and lips.

He never got the opportunity to tell the last dozen doctors and nurses about his Lord as he was called home. I’m certain he made a name for himself in the hospital as ‘the big guy who always wanted to talk about Jesus’, the same way we knew him. More importantly, I feel certain he made a name for himself in heaven as the big guy who loved Jesus. I’ll miss you Lyle. You taught me a great deal. Especially what it is to finish well. I’ll look for the big healthy athletic guy seated at the banquet. I’ll know it’s him by the splinters.

Steve, for Jeremy, Brad and Tony

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy Weeks permalink
    April 23, 2012 7:37 am

    Yes – we were certainly blessed to know such a humble man of God!

  2. Susan Darnell permalink
    April 23, 2012 7:32 pm

    Well spoken, Steve!

  3. Desiree' Chambers permalink
    October 25, 2012 7:41 am

    My husband liked him right off and that is rare, especially since he knew he was my Pastor, usually the wall went up and no one was getting in. But Lyle was so real and with that trait it was hard not to love him. He was an excellent Pastor to me and I miss him tons, but know I will see him again as you said, in heaven. Heaven’s gain has truly been our loss, but God knows best.

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