I had a busy day ahead of me last Thursday morning so, as I went about my morning routine I busied my brain with efficiently piecing tasks together and making a plan. I sat down at my computer to check my email before leaving the house, to see if there was anything unexpected and urgent. At the top of the stack of mail in bold was the subject, “Ron Keefer’s Passing.”
I could have laughed; the thought was so absurd, but then as I read on I was jolted into reality and I knew it was true. Something swept through me and I was left sitting there thinking one thing, “I wish I had spent more time with him.”
As my mind and emotions began to reestablish their routines and catch up to each other – that thought remained. And I reflected on it as something strange. Odd – but not odd. What a funny thing to think – but how logical to feel that way. To have wanted to be more in his life – why? And now it’s too late. Then I wondered, “Why am I thinking about all that and not just being sad about it?” Then I realized that tears were pouring down my cheeks.
I got up to go and tell my wife, it was hard to – I felt so full of empty.
I’m certain he did not deliberately mean to, but somehow Ron had managed to establish himself firmly in my life. This was something I knew little about until his absence showed me. Certainly he was a man you could lean on and depend on. Just knowing he was around eased worries that things were being done properly and that any emergency could be dealt with. And when there was no task to be tended to, you became the task at hand. And to you were poured out kindness, warmth and good humor.
I suppose when you add these things together the math gives you the simple answer – he was like a father figure to everyone – like he was to me. Of course my heart knew that all along – only my mind just figured it out.
So why’d he’d have to go? I have to ask, even though I know I won’t understand. What sense is there in loss like this? All I can say for sure is that the good behind God’s reason for this is far greater than the bad I feel. After all, He loves Ron even more than we do – (as He loves us each more than we’ll ever grasp).
I wonder if the answer is something like this…
“For we are God’s fellow workers.” 1 Cor 3:9
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2
God knows the desires of our hearts. He knows the things that we would each want uniquely as a reward for a life well lived. And what would Ron want? Gold? Prestige? A parade in his honor? No! (Well, actually, when I think about it, he might really like the parade.) To my mind, from what I know of him, what Ron would love most would be the opportunity to help make a place for all of us. To help plan and build and equip the perfect eternal home for all of us. And I believe that’s what he’s doing – or something like it. I believe he’s working with God to help prepare a place for us.
Maybe my theology is a little candy-coated but I believe that when they take their final retirement, most teachers get a fast-pass to Jesus. So I say Ron has already been fitted for his halo and embarked on his next mission. Don’t believe me? Just listen, because I swear, if you’re quiet and focus your ears you can already hear that booming laugh, orders being barked out to angels, the sound of nails being driven home by a sure hand on a golden hammer, and furniture screeching as it’s being rearranged on the floors of Heaven.
We should all rejoice in this. Ron was a firm believer in over-building and super-sizing. I’m confident we will have the best (and sturdiest) of everything. Not that there’s envy in Heaven, but I have a suspicion that all the rest of the saints will feel sharp pangs of regret that they never got to know Ron Keefer the way the rest of us were blessed to.
So I feel bad, but I also feel good. I feel bad that I didn’t make more of our time together, but I feel good knowing that I will get a second chance to spend quality time with Ron – an eternity of it.
RON & CAROLYN KEEFER