My life has been shaped, influenced and defined by the relationships I have experienced over the past 53 years. I have met and experienced people of every stripe, background and persuasion. Most could be described as ordinary people striving for the extraordinary. A few have been extraordinary people who have done extraordinary things. The rarest people who I have known are those who are extraordinary with a passion for the ordinary.
My Uncle Roger was one of those rarest of people…an extraordinary man with a passion for the ordinary. He was a man of tremendous talent and creativity and yet at the same time one of the most approachable, loving and humorous people I have ever known.
Cool is something you don’t have to work at…you just have it. Uncle Roger was flat-out cool. He was confident and inspired confidence in others…myself included. He convinced me that I could play the guitar and sing before I could ever make a cord. He convinced his friends that they were cool by treating them that way. I thought of Uncle Roger as a combination of James Dean, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Don’t ask me to explain that one!
He was a man of very few fears: He was afraid the day he started his business, He was afraid the day he got married, and He was afraid the day his first child was born. His fears were replaced by determined passion and excellence once he had faced them. He settled for nothing less than excellence in his work. He settled for nothing less than complete devotion in his marriage. He settled for nothing less than open-hearted caring with his boys.
Uncle Roger was never conventional but as long as I knew him, he was always real. Institutional Christianity would probably frown upon Uncle Roger, but then again, who cares about institutional Christianity? His “Tarzan yell” would probably be questioned by most “grown-ups,” but it served a very important purpose to Uncle Roger: don’t take yourself too seriously!
As we come to remember Uncle Roger, I really don’t believe we should focus on the past to the neglect of the present. You may think Uncle Roger is dead, but he really isn’t. Every person will live beyond the grave…somewhere. Life’s defining issue for all of us is, “What have you done with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” How a person deals with this issue will determine where he spends eternity.
In this life we are given a choice, to receive Jesus or to reject Him. The Bible says in John 1:12, “But as many as receive Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.” Receiving Jesus Christ into your heart by faith insures you of the forgiveness of all your sin and a place in eternity with the Lord in His family.
The Bible says in John 3:18 says, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the only begotten Son of God.” To reject Jesus Christ insures an eternity separated from God and His love in a tormented loneliness that will never end!
In preparing for today, I asked myself, “What of Uncle Roger in the present? If he could stand before us today, what would he say to us? What would he think is most important for us to hear?”
I believe that the first words Uncle Roger would say to us today is, “I love you.” He was never afraid to say those words. The last thing Uncle Roger ever said to me was, “Tony, I love you and I’m proud of you boy.” Susan, Nicki, Jared, Brock, Charlie, Candy, family, friends you know those words, you’ve heard those words. If he could, he would say them again…he would say them first.
But I believe there’s more. If Uncle Roger could stand before you today, I believe that the next words out of his mouth would be, “Have you given your heart and life to Jesus Christ?” There is simply nothing more important than this! If eternity is at stake, and Uncle Roger is completely aware of that now, then your relationship with Jesus Christ is the priority. Romans 10:9-11 tells us how we can begin a relationship with Jesus Christ today: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’”
If you have never asked God to forgive your sins and invited Jesus to come and live in you, I believe Uncle Roger would plead with you today to do just that.
A last word from Uncle Roger would be to love one another. He would say, “People…relationships, that is what is most important in your time here on earth. Life is too short for bitterness and hard feelings. Cherish the time you have and the people God has given you.” Dear ones, it is heartbreaking to come to the end of life here only to realize what we have wasted because of pettiness and selfishness. Love one another!
Yes, Uncle Roger’s message would be profoundly simple and simply profound:
1. I love you!
2. You love Jesus!
3. Love one another!
If you and I would honor anyone’s memory, we must honor this message. I love Uncle Roger and I know you do too.
Family, cherish the memories and the message of this extraordinary man and let them become the treasures that provide for your present heartache and your future life.
Friends, I challenge you to the same. There is life beyond this veil we call “death.” Make the right preparation for our time is coming and what you and I have done with Jesus will determine whether eternity holds celebration or sorrow. May the presence of the Father, the provision of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit rest upon us all…