Many of us did not know Dave very well, nor for very long. What do know is that Dave wanted to be among us.
He started attending TEC services sometime in the later part of 2020, or maybe early 2021. He came with Jack Frazier, and then with David Powell, who fairly quickly and certainly affectionately became known as “The Old Guys.” Early on the three of them sat together, lunched together, and occasionally even wore coordinated t-shirts together. I had to ask Jack to remind me what the shirts referenced, and they were redshirts from Star Trek, characters who never made it long in the show. Since Jack, David, and David all had cancer, they talked about who was going to get to the pearly gates first.
For a while Dave was conspicuous for the jumbo flashlight he carried with him. And if you talked to him for very long, you usually found out that he was not a little opposed to modern flour and anything gluten.
There are, no doubt, many more things we didn’t get to know about him, from when he was a young man, or even about the healthier days of his life. But we prayed for him almost every Sunday in our corporate supplication for a couple years, not only related to his Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but for various trips to the ER.
In addition to his eccentric rhetoric, I’ll remember Dave as a man who was a good neighbor (according to my oldest daughter), as a man who had great taste in friends (Jack, David P, Craig M), as a man who wanted to be among the saints at TEC (when it would have been much easier to stay home), and as a man who earnestly wanted others to pray for his daughter Allyson and her faith in Christ.
And so what are we supposed to do? We are Dave’s people, and that means we give thanks to God for Dave’s faith. And we give thanks to God that Dave no longer needs faith because he’s finished his race, and is in the presence of the Lord.
We remember that faith alone saves. None of us bring any good works to God that earn our salvation; “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). We have all disobeyed God, and a sinful person can’t even pay the cost for his own sin, let alone earn the privilege of eternal life.
To know forgiveness and to know fellowship with God depends on believing the gospel. It is of first importance: “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This comes in the same letter where we learn that the cross is foolish to some and a stumbling block for others, but for those who believe, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).
The summary of good news is also in the same chapter where we’re encouraged that many witnesses saw the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). There are eye-witness reports, and so resurrection has happened in history, and this keeps us from having hope only in this life, it keeps us from being a people most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19). Faith is not a crutch, faith is our access to light and life. In Christ, these perishable bodies will put on the imperishable, our weakness will be raised in power. In the resurrection our dishonor will be raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:42-43).
So while death is not good in itself, and while we are saddened that a part of our church body is gone, we also know that the death of one of God’s saints is precious in the Lord’s sight (Psalm 116:15). We know that the timing is the Lord’s. We know we will see Dave again. He got there before us, but it is where we want to go. The sting of death is gone, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
We don’t think Dave is with the Lord because of Dave’s life, but because Christ lives. None of us have anything to boast in except for the Lord. And even though salvation is only for those who confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead (so a narrow gate), all it takes to go through is faith.
We have many reasons to thank God for Dave and for the few years he was among us. Even more, we thank God for the hope of eternal life we share with Dave, though it is no longer hope to him. Of course, if he could, he would urge those with faith in Christ to keep running the race, and he would plead with those who have not received Christ, today, if you hear His voice, turn to Him in faith.