For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (ESV)
As far back as I can remember, my little brother, Gary, was always a part of my life. We even looked like twins. I was older, but we were less than a year apart in age and he very soon caught up to me in size. We were often addressed as twins, hearing “Holly and Gary” spoken together like “strawberries and cream” or “bacon and eggs.” This is simply the way it was for us growing up.
While we were young, we had the wonderful privilege of attending a genuinely vibrant First Baptist Church in New Hampton, Iowa. John 3:16 was taught there with a wonderful mix of joie de vivre, a rich enjoyment of life and its many blessings, as well as a seriously deep and abiding trust that was evident especially during times of grief and loss.
It was a time when flannel boards were the rage with Bible teachers, and we had some very talented women who were great storytellers. One summer at our annual Vacation Bible School, I remember Gary staying afterward with his teacher. This event translated means he responded to her invitation to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and he stayed after so she could explain what that meant and pray with him. I remember waiting for him and noticing that he was different in a good way. That very day Gary began a journey of faith that carried him through his entire life.
Gary demonstrated active faith—first in his growing character of integrity and honesty—and then in compassion and kindness as he aged. During very real deep struggles his faith remained steady and true as a guiding light. He looked for ways to share his faith. He attended church regularly. He became a Gideon and visited the jails to share his testimony.
Now, the historian of my childhood has passed, and the record becomes more dim. I miss you, sweet little brother. But I know I will be reunited with you again one day and we will once more be “Holly and Gary” together in the glorious chorus of heaven.