Saying Goodbye to Ron

Seventy years truly does pass quickly. That is how long God blessed our brother in the LORD Ron Rondestvedt with life on this earth. I know from a young-man’s perspective, 70 years is a long time. But from my perspective at 51, and Ron’s wife’s perspective, 70 years went by too quickly.

That truth was made all too real when I watched the video of Ron’s life at the funeral home web page. It started with a common picture that Rhoda kept on her desk while secretary of Redeemer Christian Fellowship. The next picture: Ron as a baby, Ron as a toddler, Ron as a child, teenager, young man, married man, father, grandfather… His life of 70 years was condensed down into 6 minutes and 44 seconds. The video hardly does it justice.

It failed to show the Ron for the man he was, the loving husband, father, friend and brother. It failed to show the adventures he had as well as the trials he experienced. It doesn’t show his beliefs and the things that were important to Ron, like his family and His LORD. The video cannot show us his life, it’s but a small, infinitesimal glimpse. That is all it can be. Not that we should not put the videos together. We should. But his life, and ours, are so much more than we can capture on video and film.

I think the reason that Ron’s death has caught me off guard is because of this reality that 70 years truly is nothing at all in the long term of things. The Apostle Peter said it this way:

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man[b] as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

Our lives are like the grass and the flowers that fade away. I’m sure today, there will be those who will say things like “Ron lives on in our hearts.” Those things are always said. But he doesn’t live on there, nor do we want him to. After all, 50 years from now, who will still be alive that truly knew Ron, or any one of us after we die?

Memories are just too faulty to give any credence to such a notion that someone lives on in our hearts. Looking at Ron’s life, I could identify with the things he experienced because I had similar experiences, just as many of you did as well. But even those experiences fade over time. There is no going back to them, even though we have our snapshots of them. We cannot relive the experience that came and went like a freight train through town. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many pictures we take, that freight train of experience just passes on through and it gone the very next moment.

All this to say that life passes too quickly. Even if Ron had lived for another 25 years, when it was over, it still went by too quickly. That is the point of what Peter is saying to us in the verses above. Life passes quickly. We can look back on Ron’s life, and see those precious moments when he was a toddler that had learned to walk, and was walking at full speed with the joy of discovery. We know that we experienced such life as well, and have children who are still experiencing such things. But they too, will one day come to the end of their short, 70 years.

I don’t say all this to be depressing. I’m grateful for the 70 that Ron had, and the 51 that I do have. But there has to be more to all this than just the accumulation of our experiences. There has to be more than the photo albums can show us. There has to be more than what the fading memories recall about us.

And of course, that is why Peter concludes his quotation from Isaiah with: “but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

This passing of Ron, or any of the recent deaths our small church has experienced over the past few months, would be truly depressing without those words. Peter is reminding us of the hope we have in Christ and of His Kingdom that never passes away. The precious moments of His Kingdom are eternal. Those things that make this life good, never pass in the life to come. The experiences of joy, family, and friendship that we have here, never end there because His word endures forever. Christ’s Kingdom never passes away.

The kingdoms of men all pass away. We see our own kindgom in the throes of death now, but not the Kingdom of Christ. It endures forever.

Now that Ron is a full-fledged member of that Kingdom, he will never have to face trials again. He is done with the trials of this life. The moments that so quickly eluding him here, are permanent there. The relationships that were broken here, do not fade in the next life. Those who know him there will no longer have faulty memories. Their joy is made complete in Christ and Christ is the focus of their lives now. No more distractions by the things of this earth.

But what about us? What about those of us who still face the trials of this life? Christ is our hope. For those of us in Him through faith, we have the hope of seeing Ron and all the others that have gone on before us. The separation for us may last 10, 20, 30 or 40 years, but for Ron, it will be but a moment. And in that moment, the pains of this life will pass for us as well. No more grass blades fading away. We will become permanent residences of a permanent Kingdom with permanent friendships and a permanent family.

Yes, the grass withers and flowers fade, but our LORD’s words endure forever. Because of this truth, so do we, even though in this life, we experience the quick passing of a mere 70 years.