For Alan Kurtz: A Eulogy
and I go back a long way. Our two farm families were very close
and shared many 4ths of July, Thanksgivings and Methodist church
doings together. Mom and Dorothy were great friends as were Dick
and My Dad. One of the good things Allan and all of us kids shared
was coming in to one farm house or the other after being out playing,
and devouring tons of chocolate cake fruit salad, jello and anything
else on the dining room table.
play was war games, cowboys and Indians, Tarzan stuff–swinging
from barn ropes and tunneling around in rag weed patches. Often
we’d head down to the river east of our place or down past
Spear’s and spear carp or smoke Indian tobacco or some of
Allan’s grandpa Burt’s Camels-- if anybody had them..
I was amazed at the way Allan could zip barefooted over sharp stones
and thistles and never show the least sign of distress while I had
to hobble and ouch my way along like a crippled kildeer whimp.
were a few more serious incidents like the pipe bomb we created
one 4th of July which rocked the whole Kurtz farm and
made Myrna cut completely through the pattern she was cutting out.
We had to run for the hills when she came running out of the house
with that scissors. Of course the whole bomb idea was Allan’s
. I had nothing to do with it. Not a thing. Then there was the day
playing commandos when one of us, I think it was Allan, got shot
with a bb just over the eye and the blood flowed down and all hell
broke loose. I can’t distinctly remember who shot the bb,
but I do recall the impression my dad’s whippin’ made
on me. funny how one forgets the details after a time.
we moved to Oregon and I don't think I saw Al again until a number
of years after high school when I moved back to N. Dak. We lived
our separate lives and faced each his own problems and ordeals,
good times and bad. I would occasionally see Allan once in a while
when I stopped by Fmt. to visit family or some such thing.
my closest relationship . With Allan came just last year, after
I'd heard he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I felt literally driven
by my conscience to go and see him; so I did..
impressed me most on that first meeting was the amazing calm and
dignity with which he handled the news of his situation. That cool
composure reminded me a lot of his mother Dorothy. There was a real
strength there. He was not visibly distressed by the news of his
situation, and we visited about a number of every-day things that
were happening, but what gratified me most was his willingness to
pray with me and seek the Wisdom of the Lord for help about how
to face the mountain that stood in front of him. He gratefully accepted
a little book of Bible verses I had for him, and I felt very strongly
that Allan was in in good hands.
my next visit Allan told me he had decided not to go into expensive
chemo or radiation therapies, but to just ride it out using Jesus
for his physician and maybe pain killers later if the pain got bad.
I could sense a real peace and assurance in his words and we prayed
together again. This time I wanted to be sure he had invited Jesus
into his heart to be the Lord over his life. And he said he had
and I could tell by the total lack of fear or doubt in him that
he had indeed the Spirit of Christ within him bringing him peace.
shortly after that we heard that Peter Jennings was facing the same
ordeal, and in a few brief weeks, he was dead in spite of the best
medicine money could buy. But through the grace of Christ, Allan
was given nearly a whole year before he experienced any real discomfort.
That gave him ample time to settle his affairs, make amends, get
acquainted with the Word, and prepare for going home. At the same
time, God spared him all the nausea, and discomfort, and huge expense
that attend the usual Lung Cancer ordeal. Even on the last day of
his life, when I visited him at St. Francis, I sensed, in spite
of the battle he was waging, that fear was not in him.
in and out of consciousness from the heavy medication, he still
valiantly tried to be the good host and make conversation as to
how things were with me. He let me pray with him again, and I was
given the verse Jesus said in John, 'My Peace I give unto you -
- ' and I asked the Holy Spirit to fill Allan with that unfathomable
blessed assurance that tells one that he is wrapped in the Grace
and Love and Peace of Christ.
Bible says that 'to be absent from the body is to be present with
the Lord.' There is nothing of which I am more certain than that
that’s the place in which Allan now lives and and has his
is the precious promise of every child of God who has turned from
his own rebellious ways and come home to the Father. It is what
the beautiful parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son are
Christianity is not about how many hours we’ve spent in church,
or how many good deeds we’ve counted up. Those things are
good, of course, but none of us are good enough of ourselves to
go to Heaven and not stink the place up. Heaven is a gift of Grace,
and when we stop singing “I did it my way,” and use
our free will to finally make the supreme right choice to accept
the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us to save us from our rebellious,
fallen, selfish selves—and just say yes to Him. Then all the
“precious promises” II Peter and the preachers tell
us of suddenly become ours. And we are "justified”—"
just-as-if-I’d-- never sinned. And the blood of Jesus cleanses
us of all sin and all unrighteousness. What a gift; what amazing
arms of the Father are still wide spread awaiting patiently for
every wayward son or daughter to stop living on pig food and come
home to His banqueting table. What a gracious and loving God we
serve. Allan couldn’t be in better hands and there’s
a chair at that table for any and all who will accept His invitation
to come and dine. The operative answer is
'Yes Father, Thank-You Jesus; I’m
sorry; forgive me; be my Lord: I’m coming home.'
may the Lord extend to each of us in our final hour the time and
wisdom to say yes to the same Love, acceptance and forgiveness,
the same amazing Grace He showed to Allan. (Amen)
(Feb 17, 2002) Gene