I walked to the front of the somber small town church on the day we gathered to remember Jack McCaskill. Jack is a common name and it belonged to a man who possessed uncommon love. Days leading up, I listened to his family recount the small, daily ways Jack was so faithful to love people, particularly his family. We think we need to do something grandiose to leave a mark. When we think like this, we miss the mark. Before the funeral, I had asked Jack’s wife Janice what important things she wanted shared at the funeral.
Gentle tears fell as she remembered him. Then she said:
- Appreciate Family; Life is Short
- Tell About Jesus and the Gospel (Jack would want that)
- Jack’s Golden Heart
- Remind People; Live Life Full
1. Appreciate Family; Life is Short
Jack cared deeply for His family. Jack made time to care for his parents in their old age. He made countless trips to the neighboring town to visit his mom and his dad lived with him in Unity for nine months when life got tough. Jesus cared deeply for his family. In Matthew 19:25-27 it says, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene whom he loved standing nearby. He said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” Jack hit the mark.
Jack was also kind to children. Kids were drawn to his fun approachability and non-threatening nature. Noticing and speaking to children is a mark of compassion and humility. Jesus was kind to children, too. In Matthew 9:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Jack hit the mark.
2. Gospel Message; Go to Abby
Jack had assurance about where He was going. He was on his way to be with his late daughter, Abby, in Heaven. Janice and the girls repeated to Jack many times during his last month, soon you will go to Abby. Jack knew where he was going because he understood the Grace of Jesus. Janice told me: Jack was amazing, but he was not perfect, and he knew it.
No. None of us are.
He recognized He didn’t have it all together.
None of us do.
Janice says Jack sometimes felt he wasn’t the most successful in the eyes of the world. Jack recognized his own lack. It’s that very understanding that allows us to experience the power of the Gospel.
When we can’t do it, He Does.
When we mess up, He Wins.
When we fall short, He Fills The Gap.
John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life.”
The penalty for Jack’s sin was cancelled and the power of sin had no hold on him. His slate was clean, his friendship with God was established, and because of this, he was able to live with a heart of gold.
3. Jack’s Heart of Gold
Jack’s heart of gold stemmed from the love of Christ.
How does the love of Jesus come alive in your live? Choose to see his love, daily. Jack recognized the hand of God all around him. Janice described Jack as a “Scanner”. She said he would constantly scan the horizon for animals, sunsets and beautiful things God has made.
How do we experience God’s love when life feels void of it? Let grace reign when storms come. Jack was a storm chaser. Most of us fear storms but Jack pressed right into the oncoming clouds. There is no fear in love. “Perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18
Janice says after they lost their daughter Abby, she was looking for him days before the funeral, and he was over helping neighbors. Jack was rarely in a bad mood and let the people around him make mistakes, without holding grudges. The love of Jesus was alive in Jack. Jack hit the mark.
4. Remind People; Live Life Full
How do we chase fulfillment and meaning?
Jack did it by giving love away and reflecting often on the most important things in life.
Firstly, Jack gave love in practical ways. Jack gave blood. Often. He donated blood at least 41 times. Jack literally gave life to others through his generosity. Jesus too gives life by giving his blood. Jack hit the mark. Often, our simple gestures of love are the most profound of all.
Jack also loved humor and wildflowers. When we recognize God in the routines and the daily humdrum, we get rid of the notion that there is a wall separating the spiritual and secular. In the simplicity of giggles and bright colored petals, we recognize:
All Is God’s. His Grace Touches All.
Jack had eyes to see this.
Secondly, Jack experienced love by reflecting.
Jack reflected on his experiences with an enormous rock collection with treasures from all over North America. He wanted to remember where he had travelled while trucking all over North America. Not only did Jack stash rocks, He collected memories too. He appreciated people, experiences and moments with great sentiment. If we don’t reflect, we miss out on our own experiences. Jesus instructed us to reflect on the important things. He said: Take the cup and the wine and remember me.
In Jack’s final month, Jack’s family asked God for a big miracle. Janice told me he experienced very little pain during his last month and she counts this as a big miracle. I don’t understand the ways of God. Jesus asked for the cup to be passed from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. It wasn’t. Jack asked for healing. He wasn’t.
Here is what I do know:
Jesus gave his life for Jack and Jack gave his life to Jesus. Jack is now healed, whole and home.
Jack’s girls describe Jack as being: goofy, funny, patient, a fun dad, bus-driver, truck-driver, sport lover, street hockey champion, swimmer, animal lover, down to earth, country man, cloud watcher, fisher and a target shooter.
Ah yes, a target shooter.
You aimed so well in your life, Jack.
You hit the mark, my friend.