How does one memorialize a friend and mentor?
Last month, Glen and I spent four hours in typical, unhurried conversation, filled with comfortable silences, and with natural movement from one subject to another. Near the end of this visit, Glen asked me to go and get his Bible. He directed me to Psalm 91:14-16, where the writer proclaims God’s protection.
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
And show them my salvation.”
On February 23, 2003, I preached a sermon using Matthew 5:13-16 where Jesus talks about our call to be salt and light. As I began to speak, I asked, “Why are you here on earth and not in heaven?”
Glen was the one person in church that morning who knew the answer to the question – before I even spoke a word! He knew that our purpose on earth was to make a difference, to show the world what the kingdom of God is like – right here, right now.
He knew why he was here.
I only had the privilege of knowing the retired Glen. Our friendship began in 1995 when he asked if he could help cook breakfasts for the DOOR program. The one-year commitment lasted 10 years until Jane, Tim and Judy, Glen’s children, ganged up on me and suggested that it might be time to ask Glen to retire from DOOR.
During Glen’s decade at DOOR, our friendship grew from casual to deep. I have precious memories of quietly sitting around the breakfast table over a cup of coffee and sharing stories of family and church.
As our friendship grew so did my respect for Glen.
In a world where the image of “father” has often been maligned and belittled, Glen reestablished the credibility of that word. His love and concern for his children and grandchildren was always evident.
As a friend, Glen knew how to find the best in people. I do not recall Glen ever saying an unkind word about others.
Glen knew what it was to be a spiritual leader for his family. When Glen prayed at family gatherings – in the precious name of Jesus – everyone knew that God was listening.
When people were uncomfortable, Glen put them at ease. He did not want anyone to be uncomfortable in his house or as a member of his family.
When friendship was needed it was offered.
When times were tough Glen was there – always loving, always forgiving, always praying.
For Glen, family was much more than biology. No matter how you came to be a part of the Givan family. once you were in there was no way out!
Glen new that the bedrock to a good family was a strong marriage, and for 54-plus years he and his soul mate, Berniece Givan, nurtured this legacy of family, love and inclusion.
Through all of this, it was always Glen’s deepest hope and prayer that his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, in-laws, and all others who found their way into the Givan famil,y would come to know Jesus as savior and Lord.
It is hard to say, “Goodbye.”. I don’t know what Christmas dinner is going to be like without Glen praying, “…in the precious name of Jesus.”
But we must say good-bye and we must keep hold of the many wonderful memories we have of Glen. We can celebrate the fact that he lived his life well. That he touched so many – so deeply.
Glen, a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, and a friend, is now at peace. He has fought the good fight and has run the race to the finish line. God has now welcomed Glen into a new heavenly home – a place where pain and poor health are no more.
Glen is at peace. Let us too be at peace. Let us find our comfort in him alone who gives solace in our grief: Jesus Christ, who forgives us all our sins and seals to us the sure and certain hope of life eternal.