PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR
1 John 4:18, There is not fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
On Friday, April 23rd, we handed over one of the giants of our faith to life everlasting in the presence of the Father and the Son. Dr. Edgar Hatfield is safely home and has heard His Savior confess his name to the Father and the angels. What a moment; what a joyful anticipation for us that still sojourn.
I have thought back to the last time that I was with Eddie. A few days before he went home to Jesus, I was able to worship with him one more time. We sang and we prayed, and we talked. It seemed clear that Eddie was drawing close in his physical body, but his spiritual presence remained as vibrant and alive as any other time I sat with him. He was worshipful, smiling, and content in his soul and relationships, most importantly, his relationship with Jesus. As I heard him pray one farewell benediction, I thought, this must surely be as close as possible to what was said of Moses, The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
Even in those hours, Eddie taught me through his example. It was to my great benefit to be his friend in these last years, and sit at his feet one last time, my elder in the faith showing me how the last lap of this earthly life should be run. I observed my brother softly sing the hymns for well over an hour with fullness of joy; I felt his hospitality to me, a guest, within his home during a time of physical suffering; I heard him reminisce for the fellowship of the Saints, longing to see you; I sensed his acceptance of, as the Apostle Paul wrote, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain; I also saw and heard and realized that a son is never ready, regardless of circumstances, to let go of a father who has done his best, even when he goes to the arms of Christ. We will always long for more.
But there is one more thing I learned from Eddie, and witnessed during my visit, that exemplifies our study of First John -perfect love casts out fear. We have read John repetitively point us towards loving one another, not just as a proof point for our faith, but also because we have been bought by the blood of Christ. We have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. Eddie loved us well.
Since Friday, I have heard testimonies from members of our church, listened in on personal voicemails, read emails from some outside our church, reviewed posts on social media, and reread the letters he wrote to me. And here’s the thing – they all say some version of, “Eddie was for me. He encouraged me often, especially when… He loved me so well.” I heard these memories from many of you, from his peers to those in the middle, even letters received by Audubon’s children. Each demonstrated love in a tangible, life giving way.
Eddie was as well credentialed as a pastor can be, educated and achieved in four Biblical and seminary degrees. Yet, it was his immeasurable love for the Saints of Audubon and elsewhere that shall prove his enduring legacy. We will remember his love.
Each of us get to choose how we will be remembered; the choice is ours alone. Regardless of our backgrounds and circumstances, we can demonstrate that we learned how to love well. I endeavor to follow his lead; I pray that you will join me.
We thank our God in all remembrance of him,