It has been a rough few weeks. My father, who lived a multitude of lives in his 81 years, passed away on July 29. I took a last minute trip to my hometown earlier in the month when he was hospitalized and not expected to walk out of the facility. True to my dad’s stubborn nature, he did walk out, but only to travel to a place he loves where my step-brother had set up hospice. My dad said for years that he would never die in my hometown. He made that happen.
It’s a long and complicated story (aren’t most family stories complicated?), and I may tell the whole of it later. For now, it is enough to know that, as hard as it was to see my once proud father frail and weak, I am sure that his destination is a heavenly one.
It is confidence in God’s Word that gives me the ability to grieve without despair. My father was a flawed man. He had a tremendous heart and a temper to match. He was generous to a fault, but not wise with his finances, something that overburdened his children in the last decade of his life. He had an infectious laugh that lit up the bars where he spent too much time over his life. He, like all of us, was a product of a fallen world, doing the best he could with the resources he had.
But he had faith. He knew Jesus was his hope for eternity. In his last years he eschewed all reading material except the Bible. When he came to visit me in the fall of 2019, when I was teaching in Las Vegas, he had a small backpack that included a couple changes of clothes, toiletries, and his Bible. He liked reading the prophecies, from Isaiah to Revelation, and he would debate the meanings of the signs with anyone. At the same time, he trusted John’s affirmation that those who remain in the Son and in the Father would have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 John 1:24-27); there was no debating that. Remaining in Jesus means that, when this life is over, we will live with him.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that God’s grace extends to everyone who calls on His name for salvation. The sting of death is sin, but the victory over death is through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15). My dad, even as flawed as he was, inherited the imperishable on July 29 at 2:22 p.m. because God raised Jesus from the dead and released the gift of eternal life to anyone who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:19-26).
For this reason, death has no victory and I do not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4). I will miss my dad, for sure. His gregarious spirit, his laugh, and our frequent conversations will be bittersweet in my memory: sweet because I got to enjoy him for all of my 56 years and bitter because there won’t be any new experiences with him. But because both he and I trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus, I am confident that we will be with the Lord forever. And that is an encouraging thing.
Henry (Hank) Thomas Tuey. September 10, 1939- July 29, 2021