My dear friend and elder Ernie Groth died unexpectedly this last week from a massive stroke. My life is surely richer for knowing him.
This Sunday I was talking to the teens about the passing of Ernie Groth. I asked how many of them knew him, and the most common answer that they remember of him was this: he is the “Richly Blessed” man. Those two words were Ernie’s standard answer when asked how he was doing, and it seems our youth noticed and remembered. It made an impact on them.
And some of the last words I heard of Ernie speaking were quite similar. One of his fellow elders left the hospital last Friday with the parting words “May God bless you Ernie”. And Ernie replied with the words “He already has”. Isn’t that beautiful? I marvel that even in such a weak state, literally staring the end in the face, my friend could still proclaim God’s goodness in His life. And I proclaim to us today, that THIS is what it is all about. THIS is the picture of Christian faith and hope. THIS is what a life fully lived for the Lord looks like. It is a life that offers hope, when many would say all hope has come to an end!
What does it mean to be richly blessed? I could list many answers. I would say it means to be surrounded with people who love you. It means to live in a free country. It means to have provision. Yet above all these things, in times like last week, Ernie showed us all that a life truly blessed is one that has eternal hope, even in the face of death! It is one that knows this world is temporary, but a life with God is forever. And if these definitions fit, then He surely was a richly blessed man indeed!
And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."