Monday, January 10, 2011

In Honor of Dr. Rick Campbell

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a good friend and colleague, Dr. Rick Campbell. I ministered with Rick at INJOY Stewardship Solutions, participated in a small group with him, and enjoyed a deep friendship.

The Bible says, “It is better to go to a funeral than a party, because death is the destiny of every man, and the living should take it to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). So, what have I “taken to heart” as a result of going to Rick’s funeral? I take to heart three things:

1. Life is really short, so live it fully for Christ.
Rick was only forty-six years young. He was diagnosed with cancer less than a year ago. He left behind a wife of twenty-three years and two daughters, one in college and the other in high school. Forty-six is way too young to die. Forty-six means you don’t even outlive any sibling or parent. Forty-six means there is so much more you could have done, had you had more years.

God’s Word says our lives are but a vapor, a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Even if we live to be ninety or a hundred, in light of eternity this is still a very short period of time. Anyone with children knows how very quickly time passes.

I have often walked through a cemetery and reflected upon the degree to which anyone still remembers the deceased. Certainly those who have recently passed are remembered, but what about years later? It is very sobering to reflect on how little people will remember us a few years after we die . . . unless we invest in what is eternal.

What we do for Christ will indeed last. What we invest in the Word and the Gospel will last. Rick gave his life to Jesus and the things of His kingdom. Therefore, his impact will last for many generations, and even into eternity. His daughter spoke of how he led her to Christ. Pastors spoke of how he coached them. And friends shared of his joy and zest for life.

I led a discipleship group this year in which one of their assignments was to write their obituary. They were to write it to read they way they would want it to at the end of their life. One of the members of my discipleship group, after attending Rick’s funeral, texted me, “Rick’s funeral today is how I want my obituary to read.”

2. God is really faithful, so boldly step out in faith.
Rick’s deepest concern in dying of cancer was that his daughters might conclude that God was not faithful. I remember on many occasions Rick speaking of God’s faithfulness. He knew of God’s faithfulness financially, relationally, professionally, and even emotionally. It was this confidence in God’s faithfulness that led him to take some pretty bold steps in faith in his walk with God. The biggest of recent days was that of buying INJOY Stewardship Solutions. Before INJOY he had planted two churches, gone overseas, and was willing to move to new places to serve Christ.

I experienced Rick as a man who would rather step out of the boat, even if only to walk on water for a brief moment, than to never get out of the boat. This challenges me. I too often live a very safe life. I too often chicken-out when it comes to boldly sharing my faith. I too often sleep a little longer in the morning instead of getting up and meditating on the Word. With God’s help this is going to change . . . because of Rick!

3. Relationships are really important, so fully invest in people.
I carefully observed the slide show that preceded the funeral. As is almost always the case at a funeral, the pictures were not of Rick at his desk or Rick by himself or Rick with some physical project he had accomplished. Instead, they were pictures of Rick with family, with friends, and with pastors he served. It is all about relationships.

Next to our relationship with Jesus, life is simply about the relationships we have with others. This explains why Jesus said life is totally about “loving God with all our heart” and “loving our neighbor as our self.” So simple and yet so difficult at times to live out. So simple and yet often hindered by other “things.” So simple and yet so eternal.

So, as a result of being exposed to Rick’s rich life in Christ (even if only through this blog), live more for what is eternal; take more risks in the name of Christ, and love more richly those God has put in your life. And may God receive all the glory, and may your funeral be as full and biblical and eternal as Rick’s was yesterday.