His name was Frank. Frank was a BIG man. He stood tall and hefty. And his voice was a deep, booming bass. His hand swallowed up anyone else's when he took theirs in a handshake. But he didn't shake hands with me; I always got a bear hug that nearly smothered me. I remember, one Sunday morning, when he came up behind me and "patted" me on the back. He didn't know his own strength that morning, because he knocked the breath right out of me. Then he was all apologetic . . . "Oh, I'm sooo sorry! I didn't mean that to be so hard! Are you okay?" Once I caught my breath, I assured him no apologies were needed.
This evening when we got to the church building, we heard, even before our Bible classes were to start, that Frank had "collapsed" only minutes before and that he was, at that moment, being rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Several of our number headed over to the hospital so that his wife wouldn't be alone. Five or ten minutes later we learned that Frank had died. What a shock! He hadn't been in ill health and he was not very old -- maybe 60.
We dismissed all classes and gathered together as a family for some prayer, scripture reading and singing, all of which helped us focus on God's promises. Once again I have to wonder . . . how do people handle such losses without the hope and comfort we have in Christ? As for me, I'm looking forward to my next bear hug from Frank . . . in the sweet by-and-by.
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