This past week we said goodbye to a dear friend and brother in Christ. I’m so thankful how the Cornerstone family came alongside his family to show the love of Jesus and be a Gospel witness to the community. I personally am going to miss Gary. I wanted to share with you some words that were preached at his memorial service. I hope they are an encouragement to you.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39 ESV)
This past week our dear brother in Christ, Gary Thompson, passed from this life into the next where he now rests with his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, friend, and churchman … and let’s not forget, he had a great mustache! How blessed we all were to have known Gary! How blessed we were to have seen a life well-lived to the glory of God! How blessed many of us were to have called Gary our friend!
I was incredibly blessed to know Gary not only as his pastor, but as a friend. Gary and I went to lunch several times to talk about life. I think the first time we went to lunch and were getting to know one another, Gary began to tell me his story and his testimony. And this leads me to a few miracles I want to share with you. A miracle is when God supernaturally causes something to happen. These I want to share are small miracles, but miracles nonetheless. These are miracles that have played out over the past few months as Gary’s health declined.
The first is the Miracle of Self-Awareness. When I first met Gary he told me how he lived most of his life as if it were all about him. He told me how incredibly self-centered he used to be and how everything was just about Him all the time … that is until God changed him. His story was no longer just about Gary but what God did in Gary.
An example of this miracle is in the way that God radically transformed Gary’s life through his battle with cancer. At the end of his life here on earth, he didn’t want me praying for him as much as he did for Anne and the girls. This is a miracle! He wasn’t thinking about himself, but about others. Only God can change a heart to be like that!
Second, there was the Miracle of Healing. Gary suffered greatly these last few months. We all prayed diligently for healing and restoration. And many will say that those prayers went unanswered. But did they really? Did Gary die without any form of healing? As Christians we know that is not true.
I want to share a quote from a godly young woman who also lost her dad to cancer years ago. She beautifully describes what the miracle of healing looks like in Gary’s life:
“We asked for long life and He granted life eternal. We asked for healing and He granted it complete. We asked for restoration of his voice that he might give praise to God and daddy now sings aloud the praises of the Lamb to His glorious face. Daddy has been delivered. Delivered not in the earthly joy we could perceive but in joy much greater, more abundant, much more full, and long lasting. My heart aches from the bitter disappointment of his departure when I trusted the Lord so expectantly for his healing, but the Lord knowing my heart, granted my request, in a way that brings Him glory beyond what I am able to understand. He granted exceedingly, abundantly above all we asked or thought (Ep.3:20) Yes, “He is faithful that promised.” We now are commanded to continue to “trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding” (Pro.3:5) with a childlike faith. The LORD has not changed. He cannot lie. His word is truth. He can be trusted. “He is good, and doeth good.” “He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Ps23:2)
Gary is now perfectly healed and at the Father’s side. The best place to be!
Finally, there is the Miracle of a Changed Heart. Many people were deeply mourning Gary’s illness and his hard battle with cancer. Many were struggling with assurance and peace from God through the process. But now, it is amazing to see how God has brought friends and family members peace and comfort and understanding of what the Lord has done. To know the peace that surpasses all understanding is a miracle! Gary prayed and many of us prayed that God would comfort you and strengthen the family. Praise God that He has been a comforter.
There is no greater joy for me as a pastor than to officiate the funeral of a saint. Gary was a saint. He was a child of God, and he is in now in glory with His Heavenly Father! He is blessed forever!
Gary would want you to be blessed and he would want you to know a joy that is far beyond anything you could ask for or imagine! Do you want to know how to find that joy?
You can only find it in Jesus. This was Gary’s testimony up until his final breaths.
It was just a week ago that I visited him the hospital and he held my hand and he prayed. He prayed for me and and he prayed for many of you – that you would know Jesus Christ as Savior.
So how do you know Jesus? You repent of our sins and stop trusting in yourself and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you too can have everlasting life.
You could do that today. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have all the worldly accomplishments. You just need to be needy sinner and realize that this world can not offer you what only the next world can.
Gary is now home. He is in glory with the Father. We can take take great comfort in this.
“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Revelation 14:13 ESV)
What a legacy of family and faith that he has left us. I’m so glad that God gave us Gary and I’m incredibly thankful that he was my friend.
Today we do not mourn Gary’s death as those who have no hope. We celebrate his life and his love for the Lord! It is in Christ alone our hope is found! Thanks be to God!
See you Sunday!
Your friend and pastor,