"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A tribute to Niel

Today I woke up bright and early (though I don't know what it means to wake up bright, I'm always a bit "dim" in the morning), even before I was supposed to get up for church. The telephone woke me up right around seven, and it was for me. Now let me tell you a bit about telephone in dorm. You don't answer it. You especially don't answer it at seven in the morning. You think to yourself,"what is that horrible sound that woke me up? Oh, the phone. Frick, who is calling at seven in the morning? Someone else will get it." No one else gets it. They are all thinking the same thing. Then after 15 rings, you are thinking, "Frick, why isn't anyone getting the phone?" and you get ticked off at everyone else in dorm. Eventually the caller hangs up, but then calls again a couple minutes later. You let the system happen again. "Someone else will answer." But just when you realize that no one else is going to, you think "Hey, that phone has been ringing for about 4 minutes, I bet if I answer the caller will be like, "What the heck took you so long to answer the phone!!!" and will be all mad, and so you decide, I better not answer the phone or I'm going to get reamed out for answering so late. Eventually someone does answer the phone and walks grogily (grogily,...I like that word) into your room to inform you that your dad has been trying to get ahold of you for the past half an hour. This is what happened this morning.

Dad called to tell me that Neil Thiessen's funeral was today. eil is a man from my home church. He passed away this week from a heart attack. Neil is one of those guys who you couldn't look at without the corners of your lips rising. I've been away from my home church for more than a year, especially as I worked at my church in Worroad, so I haven't seen Neil for a very long while. I hopped in my car and drove home.

Let me tell you a bit about Neil. Neil radiated excitement and love for Christ. He was a man who could eat more then anyone I've ever met. He had one of those amazing voices. When I say amazing, I mean horrible. He couldn't sing a note, but it was a voice you loved to hear. When Neil sang "there's a hole in the bottom of the sea" or recited the poem "Hiawatha" at camp or at Men's retreat, you had dang better be paying attention, because it was going to be a good time. Some adult men in the church intimidate a young guy at times (not on purpose of course), but not Neil. He was one of those guys that you would look at and, just looking at him sometimes would put a laugh in your heart. I hope you can understand what I mean by this; its a compliment more then anything else. He was one of those guys you would look at and think "Oh Neil..." and you would think it with a smile on your face. All this being said, Niel was a very special person.

Last week was what I like to call a "Job" week. Maybe that's not fair to Job because his experiences were far worse then mine (and worse then any other person I know), but I had one of those weeks were every bit of news that was brought to me was bad news (Which also means the bearers of the news had a much worse week then me as well). Then I finished off the week with Neil's funeral. I had never laughed more at a funeral. It lifted my spirits, and filled me with joy. I left the church refreshed, and appreciating the beauty of people and life a bit more. I could see the beautiful blessing that Neil's life had been for all who knew him, and I thought of the beautiful life that he is living now; a life that as a Christian, I know I can look forward to. I thought of the lessons Neil's life taught; the importance of fellowship, sharing, laughter, and of course; a full stomach.

I said that I experienced joy at the funeral. What is Joy? Joy is one of those words that you cannot define until you have experienced it, and even then it's hard, but I think C.S. Lewis does a pretty good job. C.S. Lewis talks of joy in his book, Surprised by Joy,

…...it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that, and consider only in its quality, it might almost equally well be called a particular kind of unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the worldÂ… (C.S. Lewis, 1955, 20).

Yesterday was a sad day, but sadness accompanieded by the joy of celebrating an amazing mans life here, and in Heaven. Thank you, God, for your gift of Joy.

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