My Wife’s Father, At Home In Heaven

by Kevin Burton

   Herb Beauchamp stood up and gave his daughter away nine years ago on my wedding day.

   He was a giver until the day he died. I am not the only one in his debt.

   The day he died came this week not as a surprise, but as a shock nonetheless.  A shock to our human systems.

   He lived 88 years, very nearly made it to 89.  His quality of life had deteriorated in recent months because of multiple health challenges, but he fought through it all on his own terms.

    My wife Jeannette, his daughter, spoke from head knowledge when she said she didn’t want him to suffer anymore and called his passing a blessing. Then she cried from the heart when the finality of it all set in. 

   She told me she was certain Herb had believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and that he had gone to Heaven to be with Him. That makes all the difference. That knowledge will dry our tears. But there will be tears.

    We had happier more hopeful news about Herb’s prognosis late Wednesday afternoon, which I passed on to some Facebook friends who were praying for him.  At least one of those friends, a college classmate of mine, praised God for the good news.

   Well the outcome is not at all what we hoped for and begged God for. But I hope that friend and others will keep on praising God anyway, for a salvation none of us deserves but which God made available to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

   I’m happy to report that Herb had a great sense of humor, that he loved his Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas City Chiefs and like his dad before him, was a great lover of ice cream.

   He was a reader of newspapers, my kind of guy. He took the local Hutchinson News and read it every day.

   I’m happy to tell you a few of these things that I know about him but I don’t want to get too far from the death part.

   When I was a fulltime newsman I considered the writing of obituaries as something to do, to get it over with, so I could get on to my real work.  I had that attitude right up until the day that for the first time, I purchased a newspaper not for the sports section or the news but to get the obituary for someone I loved. 

   Thereafter I wondered what manner of stories I could write, say of a fatal car accident, if I could interview God Himself, or at least the victims of the crash.

   I would ask the victims about the circumstances of the crash and they would have none of it. That would all be forgotten, instantly.

    They would absolutely want to talk about their new reality, the glories of Heaven and the importance of faith in Jesus Christ. Or more chillingly they would implore my readers to turn to Jesus while there is still time and thus avoid eternal damnation, a damnation that in no way diminishes when family and friends have finished reading the obituary, folded the newspaper and put it away.

   If I could talk to Herb now, I’m sure he would tell me to do all I could to keep the family on a path toward Jesus.

   Herb welcomed me into his family. He loved family life, good food, good friends and good times. I’m pretty sure I will have other things to write about him and his love for his youngest daughter, my Jeannette.

   But because we’re still talking about death (which we don’t often do) and to honor his memory and to be true to what he was about, I must point you to Jesus Christ and remind you that the Bible speaks of Heaven and Hell, two destinations for the souls of mankind, two final destinations.

   Have you ever heard people talking about the “roommate from hell?” That annoying person who helped pay the rent but drove you crazy in the meantime?

   Well roommates come and go. According to the Bible, Heaven and Hell are final.

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