02.12.07

A Letter Al Wrote for This Occasion

Posted in General at 5:43 pm by Karyn

This is the letter that was printed in the bulletin for the Memorial Service on Saturday.

program_cover.gifAs I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, I have walked hand-in-hand with Jesus, the one who has already walked through that valley and come out the other side, alive, raised from the dead. And as I hold his hand and trust him, I too am raised with him, for this was his purpose in walking that path: to raise those who trusted in him. His rod and staff, his cross of suffering have become my comfort. Now as I have died, I come before the God, the king of the universe, and I come in Christ. He chose to suffer and die on the cross in my place, so that on account of him I might have forgiveness from sin and victory over death. And now I have received the resurrection and eternal life that has been my only hope, past, present and forever.

I have led a truly blessed life. At a young age, I realized that Jesus was not just a story in a comic book, but that he was real and I could actually know him. I wish I could describe to you what a powerful moment of understanding that was, and I have thought about it many times over the years, marveling over and over at the truth of this central fact. The Lord placed me into the perfect family where I was raised by loving parents with wonderful siblings. God gave me a wonderful wife who has been my joy as we have raised four wonderful children together. The Lord has given me the opportunity to be intimately involved in the lives of so many wonderful brothers and sisters, in our fellowship at college, as a pastor in Vermont, as an elder at New Life Church and as a professor at Westminster Seminary. Through family and ministry, I have had the privilege of loving and being loved by all of you, and I have been struck again and again by the deposit that each of you has left in my life.

Through all my life, Christ has been constant. Even as I have grown and changed, he is still the one whom I loved that first day. And nothing ever changed in how I came to him; every day of my life the story is the same: I come to God in Christ. His love for me has been steadfast, and he has pursued me through every time I have turned away from Him and every time I have returned. The constant prayer of my heart for my
own life and the lives of those around me has been that we would see Jesus, and that He would be welcome and present among us.

There may be some here who have never trusted Christ for life, who have never known that he is the answer to the sin and death in our lives. I urge you to consider the claims he made to being the Son of God, to consider that he didn’t stay dead and sends a message down through the ages that there is life in Him and him alone. His death on a cross, humiliating though it seemed, was his glory, by which he has defeated our true enemies—sin and death. By the ultimate sacrifice he made, he humiliated all powers arrayed against him.

If you struggle with faith, let me encourage you that in the hardest moments I have faced, he has been there. And death has been defeated. I am in Christ, as you are in Christ. So let us live out of the grace we have received. Let us live out of Christ. This means looking daily for him, asking him to open your eyes to him, and embracing what you see. Seek him with all your heart. Love him with all your heart. Love those he loves with all your heart, even to the laying down of your life for him. Jesus, the way, the truth, the life. In no other do we have hope. But in him we have hope that endures forever. We grieve, but we grieve with hope. The hope of a resurrection; the hope of life eternal. Together with Jesus.

For most of my Christian life I have wanted to see Jesus face-to-face, to join in with the heavenly chorus in his presence around his royal throne and declare his praise in new ways. Something else has grown through the years: an abiding sense that this is not for me alone. Being with Jesus by myself is not what he wants nor is it what I want. To be there with you all, those he loves and those I have come to love, that is true joy. I have often thought of coming to heaven as Jesus standing at the finish line of a race awaiting those looking for him, trusting in him, pursuing him. But it isn’t a race for me to finish first or alone. It has always been a race for us to finish together, arm in arm, having encouraged one another in faith.

He is good. From the beginning, his steadfast love has endured. It endures forever. He is gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. Trust in him with all your heart, For He is faithful.

8 Comments »

  1. Karen and Steve Dunn said,

    February 12, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Libby, Thank you for sharing this and all the events that led up to this beautiful proclamation of Al’s faith. We are holding you all in our prayers. It has been wonderful (and painful) to have you share so well the pain and the joy of this time in your lives. Love, Steve and Karen

  2. Jin Chong said,

    February 13, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you Prof Groves! You are my personal example of Psalm 112. Thank you Jesus for making the impossible possible!

  3. Tony Stiff said,

    February 14, 2007 at 6:46 am

    Libbie,
    What a wonderful testimony of Al, always thinking about the Lord’s kingdom and those who will be called. I’ve never seen a saint honored as highly as Al was at the memorial, I only hope when the Lord calls me home I will have friends and family like Al.
    Grace and Peace, Tony

  4. Susan and David Louie said,

    February 14, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you, prof. Al, for being who you have been in Christ.
    We are saddened that you have left us here, gone first.
    But we have hope in Christ and are strengthened by your testimony.
    We heard that you did more for Hebrew in this country than anyone else by helping with the WTS Hebrew Institute.

  5. Pastor Arthur Fox said,

    February 15, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    The announcement of Al’s passing into glory moved me to tears. As one writer on the OPC discussion list put it, he was the kindest man I ever knew. I well remember my classes with Al back in 82 and 83, when he laboured to teach me and hundreds of others (or did it just seem that way) in our class the intricacies of Hebrew and the book of Judges (and yes, I held onto the notes on translation he helped us with and used them when I preached through the book—I hope his commentary will be finished). I also remember you were the grader of the exams! Thank you for your friendship at Seminary and your encouragement during Hebrew—all four semesters of it!

    But my point is this: I was struck yesterday (Feb 7), as I translated a portion of Numbers 15 (as Al taught me to do over 20 years ago, for a sermon) and at the same time realized that I could not be doing what I do as a preacher without God having used Al to teach me all those years ago. I still translate a passage before teaching or preaching, for what he taught me is that precious. And I am sure that I am naught but one of hundreds who would say the same. I am not a great Hebrew scholar, just know enough to be dangerous! But to God be the glory and to Al, my thanks (which I am grateful I was able to give him a few months ago). And of course, I would never have been ordained without the basic skills Al taught me.

    But more than his skills as a Hebrew scholar, he was a genuinely godly man. I rejoiced when I heard he was ordained as an elder! His compassionate wisdom, his love of people, I have no doubt, made him an outstanding elder.

    Heaven’s gain is our loss. But our loss outside of your home is not to be compared with the loss you and your precious children have suffered. I thank you for your honest notes on the blog. It relieves, somewhat, the grief of his passing.

  6. Jerry Shepherd said,

    February 20, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Hi Libbie,

    I know this must be a very hard time for you, and I will continue to pray for your and your family. In case you are still desirous of people sharing anecdotes and reflections about Al, I thought I might share just a couple.

    Once when Al and I were quietly working away at our computers in the original computer lab in Van Til Hall, all of a sudden I heard Al say, “Well, you don’t have to be so darn obnoxious about it!” I turned around and found that Al was talking to his computer screen. On closer inspection I figured out what he was responding to. That was in the days before Windows, when you had to enter complicated strings of characters to get the computer to do what you wanted it to. Evidently, Al hadn’t quite gotten the syntax correct, and the computer had responded with some kind of message like, “you have just tried to perform an illegal action.” So I burst out laughing at Al, and then he burst out laughing at me laughing at him! What memorable days those were.

    In several of my classes here at Taylor Seminary, as well as in a Sunday School class this past Sunday, I shared the letter Al wrote for his own funeral. I also explained the “behind the scenes” theology and hermeneutics that lies in the background of the very first sentence in the letter, that Jesus is not just the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23, as the connection to the New Testament is usually made, but that he is also the sheep/psalmist who expresses confidence and trust in his Good Shepherd, his Father – that Christ is the one the who sings the Psalms, and then we get to sing them because he sang them first, and we sing them in solidarity with him. I can’t recall any particular conversation that Al and I ever had about that, but how refreshing it is to see it, both in Al’s letter and also in that chapel message on Psalm 138.

    May that same God be your Shepherd now as you walk through a very dark valley, but knowing also that you do not walk through it alone.

    Berachot

    Jerry Shepherd

  7. John Kirkpatrick said,

    March 8, 2007 at 5:07 am

    Many thousands of miles away, by someone who has never actually met you..God shows you His love and involvement in your life story by moving me to pray for you and your family over the past year.. My good friends Alan and Cheryl White told me of your situation and information needs then become intercession. I’m sure this is a common story in your circumstances but it is important for you to know -as another reminder of the amazing care of God..like the unseen gold in the river bed the bright light of suffering reveals it-just to know it is there is enough-just to know God is there ,emas it will always be alright.
    John Kirkpatrick. N Ireland.

  8. John Kirkpatrick said,

    March 8, 2007 at 5:08 am

    Many thousands of miles away, by someone who has never actually met you..God shows you His love and involvement in your life story by moving me to pray for you and your family over the past year.. My good friends Alan and Cheryl White told me of your situation and information needs then become intercession. I’m sure this is a common story in your circumstances but it is important for you to know -as another reminder of the amazing care of God..like the unseen gold in the river bed the bright light of suffering reveals it-just to know it is there is enough-just to know God is there ,means it will always be alright.
    John Kirkpatrick. N Ireland.

Leave a Comment