REFLECTIONS ON THE PASSING OF A FRIEND: HE KEPT IT SIMPLE

Yesterday I said a “for now” goodbye to a dear friend of 40 years. As I listened to friends and family reflect on the life of Richard Showalter at his funeral at Mechanicsburg Christian Fellowship Church, Mechanicsburg Ohio, I understood anew how Jesus had walked among us in the person of Richard Showalter.

Richard knew three things:
1. He knew he was loved by the Heavenly Father
2. He knew he had daily communion with the Lord Jesus
3. He knew he could continually depend on the Holy Spirit to guide him

Because Richard knew he was loved by the Father he didn’t have to seek affirmation or approval from any person. He did not position himself for praise and affirmation. He did not try to impress you with what he had done, was doing or was about to do. (He could’ve drawn attention to all he had accomplished. He graduated from some of the best schools in the country; he was acclaimed for his speaking and writing and leadership in colleges and missions; he was an effective church planter and effective in leadership development and in the promotions of missions all over the world.)

No, he did not draw attention to these things. He always pointed to Jesus. He moved humbly and freely, because he wasn’t trying to use others for his purposes. He already had all he needed in the love of the Father.

Because Richard had daily communion with Jesus, as friend talking with friend, he could be present to his fellow humans. He could weep on the backseat of his car with his own weeping 13-year-old son who wanted to return to the States, rather than stay in Turkey. He could minister to prisoners and to the homeless, to church and business executives. And all were enriched by his presence because he had received something from Jesus each day that simply flowed through him to all those with whom he connected.

And because he had met with Jesus he could bring life into diverse settings. He could articulate a position very clearly and strongly and yet honor those who sharply disagreed with him. He could serve an institution and bring new life. He could honor institutional norms without being defined by them.

Although he served the world and brought Jesus to the world, he always had a home base, a specific faith community, from which he moved. That home base was his family, his local church and the network of churches with which his fathers before him had been associated. He honored his family and community even in his death. The 31-year-old pastor of his home church was in charge of the funeral service and gave a meditation. A former pastor also gave a meditation. The hymns which the congregation sang at the funeral were ones that his parents and likely his grandparents would have sung, “I Owe the Lord a Morning Song”, “Great Is thy Faithfulness” and “My Jesus I Love Thee”. The congregation, at some level, knowing that even as they had gathered to honor Richard, were being honored by him even in the selection of the songs, sang joyfully and enthusiastically through their tears.

Because Richard knew and trusted the Holy Spirit he was always at peace . My wife and I visited with Richard and Jewel shortly after he received his cancer diagnosis. They both testified to the peace which the Holy Spirit had given them in the face of immanent death. Someone asked Richard if he were ready to die. He said, “Yes, I’m ready to die now, today; but I have been ready to die at any time, He would have desired, over the past 30 years ago.”

Because he knew he was loved, because he had daily communion with Jesus and because he trusted totally in the Holy Spirit’s leading, Richard was able to “live until he died.”

For Richard, no matter how complicated life’s demands might seem, each day could be reduced to the simple reality of meeting with and and saying “Yes” to Jesus each day, of trusting implicitly in the Holy Spirit’s guidance and of knowing at the deepest level that he was a beloved son of the Heavenly Father.

Everything else was of lesser importance to Richard.

As I reflected on the life of Richard the words of this song came to me:

Jesus Christ is made to me,
All I need, all I need;
He alone is all my plea,
He is all I need.
Chorus:
Wisdom, righteousness and pow’r,
Holiness forevermore,
My redemption full and sure,
He is all I need.

I pray that all of us will follow Jesus the way that Richard followed Jesus, and discover that Jesus is truly all that we need.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Enos Daniel Martin

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