Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Farewell to Floyd

+ Floyd E. Griffis+
b. March 22, 1923
d. September 18, 2008

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, who sends His Holy Spirit to comfort you even now with these words recorded by St. Paul:

TEXT: But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. . . .
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ,. . . and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Phil 1:12-14, 19-26, 28-30

Dear Ardys, Ardy, Judy, family & friends,

You have seen and experienced your share of suffering the past few weeks, months and years have been a long haul for you. And there have been many times you have wondered why. There were many times that Floyd wondered the same thing – why wouldn’t God just take him and get it over with. And yet, he hung on – showing just how valuable life is and how man is not meant to die.

Your dear husband and father’s struggle was certainly no fun for him and deeply disturbing to you – perhaps beyond understanding how a loving God could allow such a thing to happen.

Well, Paul tells us in the Scripture lesson you just heard. He gives us the answer to such questions if we are willing to hear and except it. “The things which happened to [Floyd] have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, . . . [they] will turn out for . . . deliverance.” That is through all of what Floyd went through, God was working good that some who would hear the Word of Christ for the forgiveness of sins in the midst of Floyd’s sufferings would believe and be saved.

For there are some, including Floyd himself, that just wouldn’t hear the Word if it weren’t for being laid flat. There are always just so many wonderful things to do out there, too many opportunities that might be missed, too many fish to catch, to take time out of our weekends and vacations to hear the Word. But it is only through the Word that anybody is saved and given eternal life with God in heaven.

So sometimes, God must take drastic measures for our sake -- not because He is angry with us or doesn’t care, but because He does and because He loves us too much to let us go without a fight.

I can’t tell you exactly why God allowed so much suffering in Floyd’s life for so long. I don’t know if it was for his sake, for yours, or for someone unknown to us that heard the Word of Christ while Floyd was in hospital or at Aspen Care Center. But what I do know is that God sent the Word of Christ to Floyd in those times so he would know that God loved Him and sent His Son to suffer, die, and rise in victory over death that he and everyone who believes will live forever.

For a long time your dear Floyd, like Paul, was hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh [was] more needful for you, . . . Or maybe for Floyd himself, or for someone else we don't even know.

But this we know, while everyone runs away from God and has better things to do until God breaks into his life and sets him straight, God is always seeking out the lost that all might be saved. So, whether by life or by death. Remember that no matter how we might suffer, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

In the midst of Floyd’s suffering and death, the love of Christ was made known to him and many others. And in Christ’s suffering and death was Floyd’s gain and yours, the forgiveness of all your sins and the gift of eternal life – in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

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