During Jon’s funeral service, many attendees shared what he had meant to them. One of his cousins asked all the young people at the funeral to stand up if Jon had mentored or provided direction in their lives. I saw dozens standing and realized that Jon had truly used his “marbles” (days) wisely. He epitomized graciousness toward people – regardless of age.
No fewer than two-dozen men told me they considered Jon their best friend, too. At first I was taken aback and thought, “Hey, he’s my best friend! Get your own!” I was amazed to realize that Jon had a ministry to those men, and, in his humility, he had never mentioned that during our frequent phone calls and periodic visits.
As the funeral service ended, my mind drifted to another “picture” from a story in the Gospels about Jesus interacting with two women: Mary and Martha. Martha was busy in the kitchen. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach. Jesus gently corrected busy Martha and praised relationship-building Mary. Comparing that “picture” to my life, I saw clearly that Jon was more like Mary, and I was more like Martha.
My best friend invested himself tirelessly in relationships with people. Jon listened to people and accepted them wherever they were along their faith journeys. He encouraged his fellow man. He did not browbeat other people or give them unsolicited advice. Even though he was often the smartest guy in the room, Jon never acted condescending, confident in who he was in Christ. He didn’t run a perfect race, but he ran his race well.
In one of our last conversations, Jon and I discussed something that Jesus said (pardon Jon’s paraphrase): “the ‘yardstick’ by which you measure and judge others will be the same one which God uses for you.” Jon wanted God to use the “yardstick” of grace when God measured and judged his life on earth – and purposed that he would demonstrate the “yardstick” of grace toward other people. And based on the comments made at his funeral, my friend achieved that standard.
So who was Jon – my best friend? He was also my brother – Jonathan Paul. I miss him and his solomonic advice and counsel – he had wisdom beyond his years. I still catch myself dialing Jon’s cell phone to ask him something, and then cancelling the call as I realize split seconds later, I won’t hear his greeting, “Hello, Brother.”
After Jon’s funeral, I purposed to focus more on relationships than my “To do” list – while I still have “marbles” in my jar. I’m convinced that my brother’s greatest accomplishment was how he gave of himself to love people. He finished well – “Well done, good and faithful servant.”