With Father’s Day approaching, my thoughts turned to my dad and words from an old hymn echoed in my mind, “Faith of our fathers, living still…” My dad’s faith definitely lives on, so in his honor I’d like to share the eulogy I presented at his memorial celebration on March 9, 2009.
Richard R. Kain (1925-2009)
Dad left us a week ago and, as we’ve planned for this memorial service, I’ve not once thought of him as being in this casket—every thought has had more to do with the joy he’s experiencing in heaven—indeed, he’s more alive right now than we are because each of us is still in the process of growing old and dying. He’s been there and done that, and death can no longer touch him.
So we gather here to celebrate his life—a godly man who was a husband, father, grandfather and friend; a man who loved peanut butter, followed closely by cornbread and fish, a man that we will never forget.
Several days before Dad went home I sat beside his bed in the early morning hours and asked the Lord what He would want me to say at the memorial service and, with Dad sleeping peacefully beside me, I wrote these words:
I sit with my dad in the darkness, but the dark is not really dark for the glory of God is here. I’m certain angels are here too, and the time is coming soon when he steps into eternity and they escort him home. Moments, hours or days—it’s very close. This is a godly man, completing his last assignment on earth—dying.
I’ve observed death many times but its strange watching it happen in my dad. I’m sure it seems like yesterday to him that he was a child—that he met Mom—that I was born. Yet, it’s almost done. The truth of God is evident—life, like the grass of the field; springing up, blossoming, flourishing and then dying in a brief moment in time. Oh, but it doesn’t end here. Dad has just begun to live—he’s run his race within the limitations of time and space and I sense that, even now, Jesus is pointing to him and telling all those around to watch the death of a saint—instructing the angels, who long to look into the things of redemption, mercy and the grace that is available to man. He must be saying, “Look at Richard—this is how it’s done. All of his human frailties are as nothing—this one loves me—no, even more, he adores and worships me. And I adore him.”
Perhaps Dad tarries here for a bit as Jesus puts the final touches on his mansion—a beautiful dwelling in God’s city of golden glory—a home where there are no weeds to pull or sprinklers to fix—the perfect place for him to luxuriate in his Lord forever.
And surely, within that cloud of witnesses in heaven there must be such excitement—his mother just dancing at the prospect of hugging her son again—his brothers and sisters joyously anticipating his arrival; ready to show him around and introduce him to the joys of heaven that they’ve already come to know.
Oh, and there’s more. My dad didn’t see himself as much—he didn’t have a clue about his value and the impact of his life. But he was—no, he is—an evangelist and an encourager—and a singer. Can’t you just hear him shouting and singing praises to God, as one after another the many people who are in heaven because he lived and was faithful are introduced? A child from the days spent in the church nursery for whom he prayed, as he loved on him. A friend or co-worker that was so impacted by his testimony that they gave their life to God, but Dad never knew it. And then, there are those he never met because they were halfway around the world—lives that were changed by his faithful giving and his prayers.
We’re told that the believer will receive crowns of righteousness and life. Can’t you just see Dad with his crowns standing before the throne and joining with the 24 elders to lay them at the feet of his Father in joyful adoration and worship? And can’t you imagine God saying, “Richard, get up. You are a joint heir with my son, Jesus—you are also my son and I want you to just get out there and enjoy the treasures that have been laid up for you!”
We see the shell of the man—Richard Kain, this saint of God who the Lord once told me was a pillar of the Church. We see a body that lived 83 years and 8 months—a body that remained remarkably strong right up to the end and certainly didn’t look its age. But that body, as dear as it is, is not my dad. My dad is alive and he can see with vision as sharp as an eagle; he can hear with ears that comprehend frequencies far beyond human understanding. He can sing with a powerful voice—not just the very nice and pleasant voice we’ve heard, but with the voice of a master singer. Oh, and he can not only walk, but he can run—I can imagine him running and jumping and dancing around from the sheer joy of being able to do so without any pain in his feet, legs or knees—walking all over heaven and meeting all of his neighbors, and nobody telling him he can’t go out because he might get lost.
As he joins with that great cloud of witnesses, I’m sure there’s one more thing he’s doing—he is loving us. He’s praying for his “sweet, beautiful, pretty-thing wife.” He’s praying for his sons and daughters. He’s praying for his grandchildren. And he’s joyfully anticipating that moment when each of us, in our own turn, joins him in Glory.
Dad’s life is not over—it’s just beginning.
One final thing; Dad no longer needs our prayers, but my prayer on his behalf is that every one of his descendants will make the choice to develop a relationship with God—that Dad will ultimately receive one of the greatest desires of his heart—to be able to spend eternity with his family—including great, great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren yet to be born. My prayer is that not one will be lost, even down to a thousand generations, but that all will enter into the fullness of Christ Jesus. Because there are two certain truths that can be spoken of my Dad—and I speak in the present tense—he loves God with all of his heart, and he loves his family with a boundless love that cannot be measured.
…the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6b-8