Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts about the loss of my friend--Joe Zickafoose

A couple of weeks ago, I lost my dear friend, Joe Zickafoose. Joe and I became friends when I joined him on staff at the University of Louisville Chi Alpha group in February, 1989. He was a friend, a ministry mentor and a great guitar player!

After he died, I struggled to make sense of it. He was young, with a family and an influential ministry. Theologically, I understand the promise of heaven and I’m glad for it. Emotionally, when you have to say goodbye to someone you love, it is hard to feel the good feelings of heaven. As one who believes in healing, it is doubly hard to say goodbye to a friend and minister who seemed to be in his prime. Since Joe’s departure, I have been mulling these thoughts over and reading the Gospel of John. I was convicted, encouraged and challenged. In John 14:1-3, Jesus says,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

In this passage, the Lord knows he is about to leave and that his friends will be very upset, so he says:
1. Don’t be upset by this—trust in God.
2. I am going.
3. I’ll take you to be with me.

The parts that really hit me were points 2 and 3. Jesus said he was going. It is clear from the context that he is not referring to the crucifixion. He’s referring to AFTER the resurrection. In 16:28, Jesus says, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” So, it is clear that, even after Jesus defeated death, he had no plans of sticking around here. And, if he had not plans of sticking around, why do I think it’s such a great idea? That brings me to the point. Not only is he going away, but he’s going to take us to be with him. The key word in that sentence is “take.” The Father’s house is the destination that we’re all supposed to be looking forward to and I was. I always read this passage from the standpoint of my own encouragement. “Hey,” I said, “He’s coming to get me and one day I’ll be living the sweet life with my savior in the Father’s house!” I never ever thought, that he was talking to the person standing next to me—which in this case was Joe.

When Smith Wigglesworth’s wife died, he rebuked death and brought her back to life. She was not happy! As I recall, she rebuked her husband and said, “The Lord wants me and I want to go.” Wigglesworth said that he couldn’t bear to let her go. Even though she loved him, she had already tasted a bit of heaven. She said it again, “The Lord wants me and I want to go.” So, Wigglesworth let her go. That’s where the “Trust in God” part comes in. It is so much easier to do when you are not the one left behind. I want to live with Heaven as a reality—both for myself and those I say goodbye to. I don’t want to view it as a failure, when one of us moves into the Father’s house. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the place where saying goodbye will be easy, but I definitely don’t want to feel that we had failed as faith healers.

Revelation 22:3b-5 says, “The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” That’s the goal.

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