Yesterday at around 5:30 pm EST my father-in-law, Duane Vernon Juve, passed away peacefully surrounded by his siblings, wife and five children. Being very frail due to his third bout with cancer and several years of dialysis, he never recovered from a fall in his garage that left his brain bleeding and swelling.
I will remember him fondly and I’d like to tell you a little about the man I was privileged to know.
Duane was a good man. That’s what many, many people think. That’s how they knew him. But, I suppose what I really mean is that he was good to me. Duane was a mid-western farmer turned pastor with little reason to be kind to the tactless northeastern army brat who started dating his second daughter in 1983. Yet, he was accepting and generous and non-judgmental. He gave his blessing when I asked to marry that daughter, and in 1986 Duane officiated as Dawn and I exchanged our vows.
I won’t forget how good he was to me.
A Suffering Servant
Duane suffered more than most people I know. As a teen, polio almost took his ability to walk. At 45, he lost a kidney to cancer. At 70, he lost the other kidney. Cancer again. Then a few years ago the cancer reappeared in his lungs, which made him ineligible for a kidney transplant. Heart-breaking.
Duane also served more than most people I know. As a life-long pastor, he served a number of congregations preaching, counseling, marrying, baptizing, burying. In addition, he spent a decade as a hospital chaplain comforting more bereaved families than I’ll ever know.
Like I said, Duane was a good guy. That’s why so many, including myself, liked him.
But, that’s not why God likes him.
The Suffering Servant
Duane didn’t earn God’s acceptance and love because he served and suffered more than other people. God accepts Duane because His own Son, Jesus, served and suffered completely and perfectly on Duane’s behalf. Like his tactless son-in-law, Duane had a sinful, God-rejected nature at the core of his being, and it wasn’t something he could fix. He couldn’t serve or suffer enough to make up for it. So, Jesus did it for him.
And so, Duane trusted and followed The Suffering Servant.
Being a Christian means reaching the end of your days, and knowing that however fondly people may remember you, your only hope of an eternal welcome is the Savior who served God as you would not, and suffered for your sin as you could not. Duane was one such man.
Being a good guy will bring people to his funeral; but trusting a good Savior is the only thing that prepared him for the moment that made his funeral necessary.
I will remember Duane fondly. But my comfort, his family’s comfort, is that he trusted to his last breath in the Savior who earned his acceptance.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6