I hadn't seen him for years and last spoke with him about six months ago but I knew he was there (and hopefully he knew the same was true of me) and that was enough to make the world run right along its tracks; and we both knew that eternity was to be ours together and this made for something rather special.
The overarching truth, that one thing that surpassed it all, was that this man was a Christian. Not the same flavour of me, and I'm sure that I often caused him to sigh at my enthusiasm and love of things I'm sure he didn't always consider to be in the best of taste, and yet we were brothers. He was rather conservative, preferring the 'decency' of a regulated church to the mayhem he thought he saw in the sort of church I enjoyed. He loved the Bible and prayer and was pastorally aware and active; a good church member.
But it is his steadfast and unremitting passion for God, his trust in Him and his desire to overcome himself to be the man that he knew Jesus, the Christ, had died to make him, that made him so special. A man reconciled to the Father by the Cross of The Son and, although he was not a card carrying tongues speaking holy roller, the Holy Spirit dwelt within him and enabled him to walk closer to God than many who display the outer, more exuberant, signs of Pentecost!
When we last spoke, after hearing of his single cylinder steam engine, new ways in his old church and his sadness that some who professed Christ presented something so much less, our conversation turned to passion and the fact that he saw so little of it in many of the Christians around him. He was sad that so many of those in leadership were more fired up about the things of the world than they were about populating heaven. He sighed as he spoke of the distance the Church of today had apparently put between it and the Gospel, the making of Church into a political body more taken up with proclaiming rights for others than they were about preaching Jesus.
So, daily office said, my thoughts turn to him and, having commended him to God's grace, live, care and mercy, his family and those upon whom he made a mark. I am proud to have known this man and blessed to know that our separation, however short or long it might be, is but temporary and that eternity will be ours together.
But without a passion for the lost I am aware that many others I know, those who are distant from God, eternity with God will not be theirs and that the offer of the reconciliation, healing, wholeness and that oddly warming inner presence of God, will be left unclaimed.
And with that in mind, I realise where my passion lies: I again understand what my calling is, for it is (as Charlie Spurgeon had it):
To be as one beggar showing another beggar where there is bread.
This surely is where our passion, as believers, becomes faith and as we make Christ know become reality in us and others.
RIP Robin Woolley
A true friend and brother