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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rest in Peace, John Redmond Coyle

I'm sorry, but this is not a Valentine's Day post, or at least not anywhere close to a normal one.

I have been putting this off, but I need to do it. One of my wife's brothers, a small-town lawyer, was shot to death as he was leaving his office to go to church with his wife, his daughter, and a grandson. They, and an employee, were witnesses to the event. Those four, the rest of the family and other employees, certainly need prayer. So do the family of the shooter, who turned his gun on himself at the scene.

We, and, I believe, the immediate family, have been overwhelmed by all sorts of expressions of sympathy, offers to help, and actual help, although, of course, only God can help in the ways most needed.

When my wife and I were married, we, perhaps wrongly, were not certain that some of her family were able to testify that they believed in Christ for salvation. It's been over four decades, so my memory isn't perfect, but one or both of us claimed part of Acts 27:24, which part says ". . . lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee," for these people, one of whom was my brother-in-law. It's dangerous to take a verse out of context, but it's also dangerous not to trust God. It's not up to us to judge, but from all the signs, God has answered our prayers on this subject in abundance. My brother-in-law was known for his Sunday School teaching. His Sunday School class served as honorary escorts at the funeral, came to see the family, and did all sorts of things, some of them I don't know about, to help the family, and expressed their gratitude that my brother-in-law had helped them grow spiritually, even helped at least one class member shake off a serious addiction problem. He was known for his careful preparation and his love for the Bible. He was also known for his generosity to all, and for his competence as a lawyer. Doing his job well was another symptom of his devotion to God. My brother-in-law's children include a newly ordained Baptist deacon, a missionary now studying Biblical Archaeology, and a minister in training.

The mortuary/funeral home has a web site, with over 100 messages of condolence on it, many from people wanting to express their thanks for this man's life. There is a Facebook Group with about 1,000 members, again, with many expressions of gratitude. The visitation/viewing took five hours, with the funeral home estimating that there were 3,000 who greeted the family. The funeral director said that, to his knowledge, there had never been a funeral with such a large attendance in the county.

More people will attend a funeral, and related events, after a sudden death. No doubt that explains part of the expression in this case. But surely much of it was genuine appreciation for a life well lived.

As one of the funeral speakers, a brother-in-law on the other side of the family, said, Redmond will not enter heaven because of what other people say about him, or for his many good deeds, or for his relationship with the church. He will, or has, done so because he trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and Christ provided the remedy for his sins. May I continually do the same.

My words, of both sorrow and gratefulness, are almost totally inadequate.

I have not been visiting some blogs that I would have otherwise got to, because of events surrounding this tragedy. Sorry.

I thank God for memories of my brother-in-law, for his family, for his life, and especially for his Savior. Thanks for reading! You may also want to read a brief, but powerful, meditation by my brother-in-law's youngest son.


Keetha Broyles said...

So sorry to hear about this tragedy. The loss of death is never easy, but I always think that when it is sudden and seems senseless, it is even more difficult.

Thinking of you, and you certainly do NOT need to apologize to any of us for missing reading our blogs at a time like this. We are honored whenever you visit, but do not consider it an inalienable right that you come!

Weekend Fisher said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss. May the Lord be with you and yours.

Anne / WF

Anonymous said...

Praying for you, your wife and her family. May you all experience the Peace of God that passes all understanding.

Dave Hansen

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you so much, Keetha, Weekend Fisher, and Dave Hansen.

Julana said...

I am so sorry, Martin. I hope your sister and her family feel the love of God in a deep way during this time. I'm thankful, with you, that he lived a life prepared for the day of his death. This time is so short, compared to eternity.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Julana. He was my wife's sister. Our sister-in-law is the one who has really been hit by this.

Julana said...

Sorry--I got that originally, but went to read your nephew's moving post about his father, came back thinking of you as his uncle, and slipped a cog in memory.

He sounds like a wonderful person. It is so sad when these things happen. Christian faith does make all the difference, having hope.

Martin LaBar said...

Indeed it does. Thanks.