Summary: Don't just be religious. Make your life a spiritual quest.
Bob’s house was well built, by which I mean that his life was well-grounded. That’s what the Bible means – at least, most times – when it talks about building houses. We saw in Proverbs where it says, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” Jesus fills out that claim and gives it a fuller sense when he says, “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house” – here again, you see: the metaphor of a house – “that one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock.” A house built on the rock is not washed away, nor is a life built on him whom we call the Rock: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Bob’s house – his life – was built on that Rock.
I / A RESPONSIVE LIFE
Bob’s was what I would call a responsive life. I had originally intended to say that his was a responsible life. And it was. If Bob was anything, he was responsible. He was completely reliable. You could count on him.
But he was also completely reliant. His life was lived out in response to a summons of sorts. If your were to pick up a Bible and read to him Ephesians 4:1, for example – “I…beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” – he would know what you were talking about. There was a calling on his life, and he spent each and every day God gave him answering that call.
It drew him into what can be described as nothing short of an active life. He served his country. He served his community. He served his church. And he served his friends.
He built a business from scratch. He borrowed the money to get it started, and then he developed it. He maximized its potential. He grew it. This is a great calling on a man’s life if he is gifted for it. It creates jobs. It builds the economy. It produces more than oil. It produces growth and confidence and hope – not just for entrepreneurs like Bob but for all of us.
Frederick Beuchner, a Presbyterian minister, once wrote: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” In other words, God has so wired us – he has put us together in such a way – that when we are doing what we love most and our doing it meets a real need that others have – that’s when we’re responding to God’s call upon our lives.
Some of you will know the name of Eric Liddell. Liddell was a Scots athlete who ran for Great Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics. He set a record for the 440-meter dash that lasted twelve years. Someone once asked Liddel why he ran. And he said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” I have know doubt that the way Bob engaged life gave him a sense of God’s pleasure. He lived a life responsive to God’s claim upon him.
II / A BLESSED DEATH
Bob also died a blessed death. That may seem like a strange thing to day, but it was as important to Bob how he died as how he lived. One of best friends was Dr. Earle Crawford, his pastor for many years and a prolific writer. And because he treasured Earle’s friendship, he treasured his books. One of them was a devotional book that I believe Bob read from every day – if not every day, then almost every day. I’m not kidding you: it was worn out and held together with tape. In that book, there is an account of the death of Edward Wilson, Robert Falcon Scott’s companion in exploring the Antarctic. Scott, himself dying from exposure, wrote these words about his friend: “If this letter reaches you, Bill and I will have gone out together. We are very near it now, and I should like you to know how splendid he was at the end – everlastingly cheerful and ready to sacrifice himself for others, never a word of blame to me for leading him into this mess.” There is more, but I’ll end the quote there.
This was one of Bob’s favorite passages. And I do believe that, over the last several years, Bob prepared himself for the day he would die. Not that he wanted to die – I don’t mean that – but he knew he would, in time. And he wanted, if I may use Scott’s description of Wilson, despite its British tone – he wanted to be splendid at the end. That’s another way of saying that he wanted to be courageous. He wanted to trust God in death as surely as he had trusted him in life.