I’ve said it before. I hate death. I hate the sorrow it brings. I hate the emptiness it leaves. I hate the relationships it ruptures. I hate the burden it bears.
And Death ever lurks. Looking over our shoulder. Sneering. Leering. Waiting to strike. Leaving its hurt. And about the time we’ve had some healing, death invades our homes and hearts again.
It seems to be happening all too often lately. Last Sunday I received one of the calls. I knew by the voice. The tone. The words that said, “Have you heard…..” This time is was my friend Ted Brewer.
I was stunned. Shocked. Dazed. Death had struck once again. It was like a punch in the gut. It was sudden. Startling. Unexpected.
His death is difficult to accept. He has left us too soon. Far too soon. And yet we know the words of the Hebrew writer, “It is appointed once for man to die” (Heb. 9:27).
So, I dedicate my Friday column to Ted Brewer. To his life. Memory. And eternal hope.
Norma Jean and I hurt for his lovely and loyal wife, Vicki. His mother, Fylma. His son, Brad. His daughters Laura and Angie. His sisters Betty and Pam. His grandchildren.
I’ve known the Brewer family all my life. I was only 16 when I started preaching in central Indiana and spoke for churches were Ted’s parents and grandparents attended. I used to tease him that he was a little kid (about 12) back then. He would grin and say, “I still am.” We’ve stayed in their home many times; and they stayed with us. I’ve preached where Ted was an elder. We’ve traveled together. Laughed together. And cried together.
He was the kind of friend that even if you didn’t see each other for awhile, you could just pick up where you left off the last time. I’m going to miss his infectious grin. His positive attitude. His vibrant spirit.
Various facebook tributes have called Ted “a life changer.” “A spiritual leader.” “A selfless friend.” “Loyal.” “Hardworking.” “Upbeat.” “An encourager.” “A giver.” “A man who made a difference.” And, of course, “always smiling.” Ted Brewer was a good man. He was God’s man.
Today, Friday, Ted’s memorial service will be conducted and I’m reminded of the One who died on THAT FRIDAY centuries ago. The sorrow of Ted’s death is tempered by Jesus’ death for him. And all the rest of us. Jesus died that we might die to sin. That we might be saved through His shed blood. That we can enjoy redemption. Reconciliation. And restoration with God. He died that we might live. Ted believed that. Embraced it. Lived it.
The day Jesus died, His mother, Mary, stood at the foot of the cross, weeping, her heart was filled with sorrow, anguish and grief. His friends experienced helplessness. The apostles were hopeless. But their discouragement, dismay and despair was soon dispelled. Tears were turned to smiles. Sad hearts became joyful. Demoralized spirits were filled with hope.
And why? What happened? Sunday! He arose! Death could not hold him! He threw off the shackles of the Devil’s domain, and was victorious over the grave! Because HE LIVES our disdain for death does not have to dominate us. It does not control us. It does not define us.
Because HE LIVES, Ted Brewer’s life was not futile. Whatever failures he may have experienced in life were not fatal. And most of all Ted’s death is NOT final. Because his life was anchored in the bedrock of God’s promise and Jesus’ resurrection, Ted lives! And we can too!
We will miss our good friend. His family will mourn. Earth life will not be the same. But our spirits are buoyed by this eternal perspective that helps remove death’s foreboding feeling and its solemn prospects.
“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:54,57)
Rest in peace Ted Brewer. It may be Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman