Sunday I had the honor to officiate the funeral service of Doyle Hall. Doyle suffered a stroke after having open heart surgery in May. At that time Doyle and his wife (Jane) had visited our church a few times and were looking for a church which would be faithful to preach the word.
I want to share just a few things which would honor the Lord, the life of Doyle, encourage others, and pastors to "shepherd the flock of God who is among you (1 Peter 5:2)."
Over the course of 9 months ministring to the Hall family, I witnessed the grace of God in this precious families life. A few thing which encouraged me as a Christian, pastor, husband, and a father as I ministered to this family.
1. I witnessed that a good name is something which a man chooses to have.
"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1)." Solomon reminds his readers a mans name is worth much more than any material gain. The last 9 months of getting to know the Hall family, it was evident Doyle fit this verse well. Testimony after testimony was offered of the sacrifices which Doyle had made for his family and for others. I was blessed in hearing the testimony of Tommy Bond, as he shared the love Doyle had for the Lord and the friendship they shared in Christ. One testimony was Doyle as a carpenter would often go above and beyond in his work, often not charging for the extra which he had done. Doyle desired to honor the Lord by choosing to have a good name among those in the community and most of all with his heavenly Father.
2. I witnessed a wife who submitted, loved, and honored her own husband.
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22)."
The past 9 months I witnessed the love of Doyle's wife (Jane) had for him in ministering unselfishly to her husband. Jane served her husband sacrificially, not to mention having a son who needed her daily attention as well. Jane made countless trips to the hospital and rehab in Nashville. She had to fight the hectic traffic, making sure her son was able for her to leave him, and all the while dealing with health issues of her own. Through it all, Jane remained submissive and faithful to her own husband. I witnessed a wife who loved her Lord, her husband, and wanted to be faithful by serving him until the end.
3. I witnessed children who honored their parents.
"Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you will live long in the land (Ephesians 6:2-3)."
Doyle and Jane have four sons who were there to minister to their parents. I know in the last 9 months there was a lot of sacrifices which was made by their children in 'honoring their father and mother.' I know of trips they drove their mother to the hospital, or days one had to stay with their other brother while their mother went to Nashville. Daughter in-laws who worked their jobs, took care of their children, and would serve their mother-in-law in any way they could to ease the load. At the final viewing of the body I witnessed all the brothers gather around their mother at the casket, which was the grace of God in these mens lives, as they desired to 'honor their father and their mother.'
4. I witnessed a man who was faithful to the end.
"But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22b)."
The truth that God's people are saved, sealed, and will persevere until the end was evident in Doyle's life. I remember speaking and praying with Doyle before his surgery in May, as he assured me his faith and trust was in the finished work of Christ for salvation. He knew either way he would be fine. Doyle understood what Christ had done for him on the cross by paying a debt he could not pay. Doyle knew he was a redeemed child of the King. Even after the stoke and the complications which he went through after the surgery, Doyle always gave testimony of his faith in the Lord. Doyle's faith was the faith which did not waver at the end, but rather held to Christ until the end. I witnessed a man who held firm in the fact, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil.1:21)."
5. I witnessed a local church show the love of Christ toward others.
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34)."
I do not say this just because I am the pastor of this church, but I witnessed God growing PHBC in her faith as they ministered to this family. I witnessed countless cards that was written, phone calls made, meals prepared, and prayers offered on the behalf of this family. The Hall's were never 'officially' church members at PHBC, but nonetheless God joined them to us spiritually. God sent them to us, and in doing so, the church grew in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. I witnessed men who worked in Doyle's garden, cut the grass, and served in any other way they could. This was helpful for PHBC, in we had to fulfill the commandments of 'one another.' I am thankful to serve a church who has an understanding that 'church' is not somewhere we go, but rather it is people living out their faith in serving each other for the glory of God!
As a pastor I never get used to the emotional, physical, or spiritual drain when it comes to funerals. I know my faith has grown in the last nine months while ministering to this family. There has been testimony of church members and other believers who has said the same. God used this man and family to bring him glory in many ways we may never know on this side of eternity.
I witnessed gracious of our God in allowing the family to be at the side of their husband, father, and brother as he went to be with the Lord on Thursday evening. God's grace in this families life is evident, that their faith and hope is in the truth of God's word, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor.5:7)." And I echo the words of the psalmist in Psalms 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
Please do pray for this family, as they grieve their loss.