I have blown my one New Year’s Resolution. It is the end of January, and I have not posted one devotion from our Christian Fitness Bootcamps every Tuesday and Thursday evening.
But my first post of 2013 is a heavy one…my dad passed away on 1/13.
I could use that as an excuse for my blog negligence, but I hate excuses.
I gave the eulogy at the funeral and it has been an amazing time for our family. One that is not as sad as you might think, but amazing in a sense of seeing God do some wonderful things.
I have decided to post the eulogy here and I will follow it up with an additional post of some cool God moments.
Max Gerry Robinson Sr.
Patient Boy Scout Leader
Enthusiastic Choir Member
Dedicated Paper Mill Worker
Happy and Humble Christian
How are we labeled? What names define us? How do others see us?
All of us here today know Max Robinson by one or more of those labels. And I bet there is one phrase going through your mind right now about how you describe in him in that role…”Max was a good neighbor. Max was a good co-worker. Max was a good friend.”
In Haywood County slang it might sound like this, “Boy, ole Max’s a goodun.”
During this last week, the comment we have heard most often is that Max was a good man. It may sound simple, but in this part of the world, compliments are not freely given. You have to earn it. If a man over 50 in Haywood County calls another man “good” you know that he is…well…good.
But does “good” really describe a man who could show the strength of a Marine, the patience of a Boy Scout Leader, the knowledge of a Waste Treatment Specialist, and the humbleness of a Christian?
There is another time that “good” seems understated. Genesis 1:31 says that God looked at all he created and it was very good. Suddenly, when we hear “good” in that context, we can understand how Max was a good man.
Of all the labels, Max would tell you that “Christian” was the most important. Whether you had a 5 minute conversation with Max or you stood with him for hours in the river casting your fishing line or gathering water samples, you knew that Max was a Christian, and that everything he said and did had been filtered through God’s word. No man in my life has embodied the love and life of Christ more than Max. I am happy that he taught me how to fish, and mix concrete to build a rock wall, and how to drive a stick shift, but more than anything else he taught me how to be a Christian.
When we think of Christ, we often gravitate to our favorite version of Jesus or the scripture that we need in that moment. Maybe we like His bold words from the Sermon on the Mount; or the compassion He showed to the lady at the well; maybe it’s the innocent baby born in a manger, or the aggressive leader who turned over the money tables in the temple. But we have to remember that Jesus was a complete man…in fact, he was the most complete man to ever live because He showed every emotion, every answer to life’s dilemmas, and took on every role and label including Savior. Max was a complete man too who showed the strength of a Marine, the patience of a Boy Scout Leader, and the love of a father who was directed by the love of his Father in heaven.
I mentioned that Max taught me to fish. He did teach me how to fish…eventually. It came a little slower for me than others. On our first trip out to Cherokee, Max told me about Gerry’s first trip. While Max was paying for their license, Gerry got out of the truck, walked to the river, threw in and yanked a fish out. Oh boy, the pressure was definitely on. After a long day and no fish in sight, we headed home. He told me to keep my chin up and we’ll get some next time. A few weeks later we headed to the trout farms up near Balsam to see if I could figure this whole thing out. You’ve heard of shooting fish in a barrel? Well, this was just a little bit bigger, but not much! I don’t even think I used bait, just throw a bare hook in and pull! It’s just fish on top of fish everywhere. After I caught a couple of fish, Max said, “Now you’ve got it. I will go pay.” But I kept fishing and pulled about 8 more out of that pond in 5 minutes. My fishing lesson just became a lot more expensive. This was a great opportunity to be stern and scold me, but he just threw his arm over my shoulder and said, “Good job, son. I’m proud of you.”
There is one more label to add to the list. There is one more name to give Max: Survivor. Understand that in my life I will always refer to Max as a cancer survivor. When doctors tell you in 1999 that 80% of people with this type of melanoma die in 5 years, you are a survivor. When the doctors at Duke Medical Center call your home even when you have stopped treatments there just to say hello and see how you are doing; and they also share with you that they are now teaching classes about you and how you pushed through for 13 years, you are a survivor. Friends, today as we are sitting here, there are families heading down I-40 for more therapy and tests, and someday, maybe not in our lifetime, there will a cure because Max Robinson was a survivor and helped future generations overcome this awful disease.
When God is doling out plans for your life, no one would ever sign-up for that role. It would take a man that had the strength of a Marine, the patience of a Scout Leader, the work ethic of a paper mill worker. It would take someone who embodied the life and love of Christ with every word and action. It would take a man that was good.
So, how do I finish this? How do you wrap up Max’s legacy with the right words?
You don’t. You can’t.
You simply say, “Goodbye. Thank you. I love you.”
But it doesn’t end today because all of us are leaving with memories that will last forever. Tomorrow, we will remember a time when Max made us laugh. The day after that, his buddies will remember how he sang silly made-up songs while cooking for them. Next week, I am sure I will be struggling through a big decision or life situation and I will recall a piece of advice that Max gave me. And every Sunday that we are in church, and we think about how Christ loved us and taught us how to live, we will also think of Max.
Goodbye, Max. Thank you. We love you.
Will you pray with me…?