Thurman Mitchell Lucas.
He was a Deacon who served in the church my Dad pastored. He was my high school Sunday School Teacher. And he was my wife’s Dad.
Thurman was called to his eternal home to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ more years ago than I can remember. The exact year escapes me, but I think it was my junior year of college (’94). And if memory serves me, I think he passed from death unto life on July 2oth. He was preceded in death by a decade or more by his wife, Linda, my wife’s Mom. Michele, my wife, has lived most of her life now without her Mom or Dad.
I loved Thurman. He was the best Bible teacher I had growing up (with the exception of my Dad’s weekly sermons). He used a curriculum that had us in the Bible passage, studying before we came to class and answering questions directly from the text. What a concept! He loved his students. He invested in us. Planned fun hang out times for us and grilled us steaks. He was the first teacher to urge and encourage me to seriously memorize Scripture. I remember memorizing about ten verses during VBS one summer and Thurman gave me $25. Now I realize knowing God through His Word is its own reward. Thurman knew it too. But it was just his way to encourage me and care for me. I appreciated it.
I was devastated when he got cancer. I hurt for my future wife (we married perhaps a little over a year after his death). I hurt for my Dad, who considered Thurman a friend and key leader for gospel truth in the church. But honestly, I hurt mostly for me.
Yeah, I know. Selfish. But true. I still miss him so much. He was truly a joy to be around. I remember the first time he had me over for a cookout after I started dating his daughter. His baby girl he raised from the age of ten all on his own! He really put me to the test. He asked if I liked rare steaks. Well, what was I to say? My manhood was clearly on the line. “Yes sir,” I barked. So he proceeded to put my steak to at most 1 minute of flame per side, and then serve it to me. Now I might be exaggerating a bit, but that steak was definitely still mooing! And I ate it all. With a smile. And I’m still smiling with Thurman’s daughter by my side some 25 years later.
From time to time my wife and I have visited his grave. He literally was laid to rest “high on that mountain” in Pike County, KY. I have stood on that steep slope and wept more than once. I have often marveled at the strength of my wife who gave up both of her parents before the age of 25. Her perspective has always inspired me. She grieves. Sure. But she looks ahead. She rejoices that her Mom and Dad gained the victory in Jesus that she longs for herself. Her faith shines in the way she has lived after Thurman’s death. I am so proud to be her husband. And so proud to be Thurman’s son (technically in-law but somehow I don’t think he would have viewed me that way).
He was a good man. Not because he thought he was good. And not even because he did good things. But because he knew his goodness was but filthy rags before a Holy God. And because he trusted only in the goodness of the Risen and Reigning Lord Jesus. Christ was his goodness. Christ made him good. To know Thurman was to know a man in whom Jesus lived. I am so thankful God graced me to know him and to be family (physically and spiritually) with him. I hope to be a “good” man like Thurman.
So help me God. Be glorified in me, as You were in the life of Thurman. And help my wife and her brother, Alan, and her sister, Marcia, to rejoice in the goodness of their Savior God who blessed them with such an humble, loving, joyful, funny Dad. I praise You God for his legacy. In Christ alone, amen.
“You do not grieve as the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).