I received so many responses from my posts about my late mother that it seems good for me to share also about my father. The following posts are adapted from what I wrote as a pastoral letter for my congregation the week after the sudden passing away of our dear father, John Beeke, while he was leading the Sunday morning worship in Kalamazoo, Michigan on March 14, 1993. It was not easy to write this, but I felt compelled to do so, and I pray that even now many years later God would bless many through it.
I do not write about memories of and lessons from our deceased father in any way to exalt him; rather, my desire is that God may be glorified and that we may all learn from the experiences and examples of God’s people.
On Sunday morning, March 14, 1993, a brother deacon handed me the following note a few minutes before the end of the sermon: “While reading a sermon this morning your father had a heart attack. He is on his way to the hospital now. He is not so good.”
I felt immediately that this was my dear father’s hour of translation from the church militant to the church triumphant. Thus, we were not surprised when we arrived in the emergency room an hour later in Kalamazoo to hear our dear mother say through tears, “He’s gone.”
And yet . . . we are never ready for death. We cling to the smallest remnant of hope—especially when it is one of our loved ones. Oh, the awesome, unnatural finality of death! Death always arrives sooner than we reckon. It always comes as a shock. Death hits us hard and heavily. We confess, “Thou hast showed Thy people hard things: Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment” (Psa. 60:3).
You can understand that we wept many tears in those hours. We lost a teaching prophet, praying priest, and guiding king in our family circle. We lost a loving father, a spiritual companion, a bosom friend. Late that afternoon, the Lord gave some encouragement by directing us to Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” We may believe that He also provided strength to preach from these words that same evening to the mourning consistory and flock of Kalamazoo who were all live witnesses of their elder’s death on the pulpit.
The following Monday and Tuesday evenings in the funeral home were unforgettable. After we heard numerous testimonies from those who were blessed by our father’s teaching and visits, these encouraging words of Paul kept pressing themselves upon our soul: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). God’s Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish His good pleasure (Is. 55:11).
In future posts, I will share more about my father’s life and death.