A mentor of mine once told me that funerals would get easier as I continued in my pastoral career.
I don't think he could have been more wrong. When it's someone who you had built a great relationship with, someone who you enjoyed spending time with, someone who was just a great man, then it's especially hard.
Gordon Burrell was one of those people.
Psalms 116:15 says “Precious in the Sight of the Lord is the death of one of his saints”.
And Gordon Burrell was definitely a saint.
Now don't misunderstand. When I say “saint," I am not saying he didn't have faults.
We all do. We all have areas where we fall short. That's why Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.”
Gordon was a sinner just like you and me.
But like you and me, he had an opportunity to make it right.
Romans 10:9 tells us that if we put our trust in the Lord Jesus we can be saved.
At one point in his life, Gordon came to the understanding that without Jesus, there was no chance of him really enjoying abundant life on earth or eternal life in Heaven.
John 14:6 tells us that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father except by me.”
So he gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ. And that's why his death, though hard for us to deal with, was precious in the sight of the Lord.
Because even before we were completely sure that Gordon was gone, he was already in the arms of Jesus hearing these words from the King of Kings: “Well done, my good and faithful servant."
I have been had the unfortunate task of doing quiet a few funerals this past month.
And some of them have been for men who I would classify as true heroes.
Men who understood that you stood by your wife and stayed married regardless of the circumstances (61 years, that is remarkable!)
Men who understood that the best way to get the things you needed for your family and for yourself was to work for it, not to ask others for it.
Men who had no problem making sure that their children knew on a daily basis how much that he loved them (the children made sure that I knew that he was always openly affectionate with them even after they were adults and because of their deep respect for him, they always reciprocated).
Men who loved their country.
Men who may never grace a history book, may never have songs written about them, but are nevertheless truly what this country is made of and truly what the churches of today, and especially Christian families need more of in abundance.
Men like Gordon Burrell.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of his saints." I will miss you Gordon.
I will miss us trading jokes (especially the political ones).
I will miss seeing you in your same spot every Sunday morning.
I will miss being able to visit with you at your house.
I will miss you.
But I rejoice to know that this is only temporary because someday I will see you again.
Not because you were a great man. But because you put your trust in a great Saviour.
And because of that, I look forward to being reunited one day with a great hero.
Until then, I love you, my friend.