This past week, as a church we were stunned to hear of the passing of a gentle giant by the name of Rod Ervin. To say this is a huge loss to our church is an understatement. I was sitting in a sermon planning meeting when a text telling of his passing came across my phone—immediately I interrupted the meeting and shared the sad news. We were all stunned, shocked and saddened. Calls went out to make sure this was true—mostly because we simply didn’t want to believe it. After confirming the truth of this, I contacted my wife and shared the sad news with her (to say she LOVED Rod is also an understatement.) She was heartbroken when she heard. When I arrived home, Lisa and I grieved together. Rod was loved, and Rod will be missed dearly.
Which raises a very interesting question: Why? Why would this elderly man’s death provoke such an outpouring of sadness in so many? Make no mistake, Rod’s death is heaven’s victory. Heaven is being blessed by his presence and that place is all the better for his sudden appearance.
This week I have pondered the question, “What made Rod so different?” The simple answer is “attitude.” Rod had an extremely positive and uplifting attitude. He was always there to encourage, always there to serve, always there to help. This is what made him so special. He never stopped giving himself away to others.
Rod had the rare quality of lighting up any room he walked into. You couldn’t miss him… you were drawn to him! He truly had some form of magnetism about him. He served on the Mesa Campus on Saturday nights and on the Gilbert Campus on Sunday mornings. If you’ve ever had someone at Central help you find a seat, odds are, you’ve been helped by Rod. If so, you’ve also experienced his contagious smile. If anyone I know ever embodied what it meant to get better with age, it was Rod.
As I’ve thought more about this, and what made him so special, I can’t help but thinking that the older Rod became, the better he became. Age improved Rod. And this is what set him apart. It seems that time does to people what the sun does to tomatoes. Time either causes people to ripen to perfection or it causes them to rot – to pass their prime and begin a serious decline.
I’ve long held that what old age reveals in each and every one of us is simply what we really are. It’s as though when we age we stop trying to pretend to be better than we really are. Some in the medical profession suggest that what is happening to us as we age is that our internal filter that informs us of what is socially inappropriate atrophies. We start to say what we really think and lose the ability to hide our real selves. We become unable to stop our real self from coming out.
So, why did Rod improve? Because Rod was simply a good man with a good heart! Jesus said in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” It all comes out in due time!
This is never truer than as we age. Age simply reveals what we really are and we can no longer disguise it. Age doesn’t make us better; age doesn’t make us worse—age just makes known who and what we really are. So what’s happening inside you as the years go by? Are you getting better with age?
I am grateful to Rod for showing us how to “season” with grace. He will indeed be greatly missed. Yet the real impact and influence of his life is just getting started. With God’s impeccable timing he was called home just as he was hitting his prime! And that’s as good as it gets!