Born: Dec. 23, 1956; Died: Dec. 9, 2020
“To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.” ―Charles Spurgeon
Old friends are the best friends. I know it seems to be a contradiction but I’m blessed to have several BFFs. Steve Ramsey was one of them. A week ago I spent a few hours on his front porch on Sunday afternoon; not an uncommon thing for us to do (fixing everything that’s wrong with the world takes some time). On Monday we exchanged text messages. On Tuesday we visited at the church over some remodeling matters. On Wednesday morning I received a text from his wife (Becky) asking me to come right away because she thought he was dead. She was right. A sudden, unexpected heart attack interrupted our 30 years of friendship. I know that this is nothing compared to what his death means for his loving wife of 40 years and his four grown children. I know Steve had a host of friends, some of whom have been his friend for much longer than he was mine. I’m certain each of them now has a gaping hole in their lives that’s bigger than mine, but for me the void is enormous!
I was his pastor for nearly 20 of those 30 years in two different churches. I’m certain that Steve has pastored me at least as much as I have pastored him. He made me better than I would have been; that’s what real friends do. We have talked things to death, we’ve prayed, cried and laughed (laughing way more than crying). We have worked together, eaten together, partied together, camped together, and worshiped together. We’ve been mad at each other, sinned against each other, and forgiven each other. I’ve wanted to strangle him and hug him, sometimes both in the same day.
Steve and I knew we were in line to checkout of this world, but I always thought I was ahead of him but somehow he cut in line and he arrived in glory before me. Today I buried my dear friend in a casket I had built for myself. I can build another casket but I can’t ever have another friend like Steve. In a curious twist, Steve and Becky have burial plots next me and Marinell in a little county cemetery. In time we’ll all rest beside one another as we await the glorious resurrection day. Then the eternal phase of our friendship (without the nuisance of sin) will get started.
I could write for a very long time describing what this man has meant to me but for now I think I’ll just ponder this amazing gift and cherish our time together. I’m still in the check-out line and will catch up with Steve very soon. He is at peace because he knows we’re all right behind him. I look forward to that ecstatic meeting with this great friend. Rest in peace my dear brother.