A Guy Named Rick

I was around 11 years old when I met Rick. He was the guest speaker at Baptist Park, the camp where I spent my summers. Throughout my 12 years there – as a camper and a counselor – Rick was often the highlight of the summer.

He was “famous” for taking hymns and singing them to the tune of popular TV theme songs, and for composing a song he wrote about the vast amount of biting black flies that inhabited Baptist Park. If you grew up in Northern Maine, you knew the plight of these pests… and you knew Rick’s song about them.

“Ohhh, they’re big and they’re mean and they’re fast and they’re wise; And you can’t get away from the Baptist Park flies.”

Aside from the notoriety he received from singing about bugs, Rick was also well-known for some other things: his relational attitude, his over-the-top kindness, his infectious laugh, his larger-than-life smile, his heart for worship, his engaging sermons, and most of all, his deep love for Jesus.  

Rick passed away unexpectedly on October 21, 2020, from complications with pneumonia. As I’ve paused to remember his life over the past few days, God has graciously reminded me of the beautiful hope we have when we know Christ.

When we know Christ, death is not the end. 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:12-14)
One of the greatest promises we find in God’s Word is eternal life with Christ. Instead of death being the end of life, we’re promised a home with Jesus forever. Imagine how incredible it will be to fully experience His presence, unhindered by distraction, exhaustion, pain, suffering, and sin.

Not only that, but think of the wonderful reunion it will be to reconnect with those loved ones who knew Christ as their savior, too! I have dear friends, faithful prayer warriors, and loved relatives that I cannot wait to see again one day.

When we know Christ, what we value changes.

“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)

Rick’s beautiful wife, Valarie, shared about his passing on Facebook. Within a few hours, hundreds of comments from friends, acquaintances, and former campers, began appearing. It was incredible to read so many comments that highlighted what mattered most in Rick’s life – his relationship with Jesus. 

Several people shared how “he constantly pointed to Jesus with his life.” Many others shared how their relationship with Jesus began after a conversation with Rick. Sure, there were funny memories and more than one video of the Baptist Park Flies song, but there wasn’t a comment that did not acknowledge Rick’s faith in the Lord.

In today’s culture, it’s increasingly easier to desire approval, fame, and wealth. Yet, at the end of our lives, none of those things have any real value. Rick’s life was special because it was all about Jesus.

We’re all living numbered days, but there’s a beautiful hope in knowing Christ. Through faith in Him, we gain a relationship with him today and an eternity with Him when our days here are done. And I’m certainly looking forward to the reunion that will be.
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