Tears leaked down my face before I was even awake. “He is gone” clanged jarringly in my mind. I reached back for my wife’s hand and she was awake. We talked softly and took turns weeping.

My father in law – Gary Bauer – was taken from this life early this morning. And my heart is filled with a cacophony of emotions – Anger, Sorrow, Loss and… hope. The first three come spontaneously and in waves – The last when I focus on the promises of God.

I am grateful for Gary’s life. It had an impact on many people. God used his regrets and sorrows to form him into a person who could give grace and compassion to anyone – even the undeserving – like me.

It is hard – actually impossible for me to understand. But that is ok. Because I know my Father is working His purposes and he is not only my Father but he is Gary’s. And so what is a tragic day for all of us who will miss him and grieve over this day for the rest of our lives – for him it was a day of great joy. Finally free of the sorrows and sins of this life – Gloriously transformed and in the loving presence of God. In his last days Gary sang for us “Stayin’ Alive” and by the grace of God, death could not win and he is not just “stayin alive” he is finally fully and forever alive.

Jesus conquered the grave not only for himself but for all who lay down their sins and their own goodness and receive the great gift of the blood of Jesus Christ – given for us. Though His blood we have the forgiveness of sins and the joy of knowing our creator. Gary had this hope because of grace. And I have this hope for him and for me because of the cross of Christ which proved the unbounded love of God. Gary had a great concern for all those around him – that they also would have this hope. Jesus says all who come to me I will never cast out.

So this is a sorrowful goodbye – one I did not expect and one that I wish I would not have to say. But it is not a sorrow without hope because – “This I call to mind and therefore have hope – the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases – His mercy endures FOREVER!”

Love you and we will see you again soon.