John Harder’s Prayer

IMG_20140725_195538On Friday, July 25, 2014, I joined with my family and celebrated the life of my grandfather, John William Harder. It was a day that I almost began to believe would never come. Grandpa enjoyed an extraordinarily long life filled with great health, love for the Lord, leadership for our family, and integrity in absolutely everything he did.
Eventually, time did take its toll. The curse of sin still evident in the body of even this, the godliest man I’ve ever known. His body succumbed to cancer with his spirit surrendered to Christ. He is now in the presence of the Lord and I can say, with all my heart, what really do we have to fear from death? Should I die I get to be with Jesus, and grandpa.

10383880_587740268265_1788220057905516129_nBelow are the words I felt impressed to share at his memorial service, followed by the passage of scripture that was my task to read, and the prayer that I prayed. I’ve written them a few days after speaking them, so they might be a bit different from what was said specifically, but I believe they are mostly verbatim – to the best I could.

I tried my best to look at my family, gathered on the front two pews as I said this, but I was not able. I’m so incredibly grateful to them all. And I love that I am a Harder.

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The Bible records a very special prayer in Ephesians, chapter 3. It is a prayer for the church, yes, but more specifically, it is a prayer for every family in the church. It is a prayer that I’m convinced my grandfather prayed for our family. It is my firm belief that he prayed this prayer, because for my entire life, I’ve been driven by a singular motivation.

Whether directly or indirectly, in every decision I’ve made and path I’ve pursued, I have tried to live in a way that I think would make John Harder proud… and what would make Mike Harder proud. Now, I try to live in a way that will make Donelle Harder proud, and Philece Evadeen Harder proud. I live that way, because I think to do so would make John Harder proud.

And I think I’ve lived this way because of the prayer he must’ve prayed for us. {Living this way comes naturally when you are from the household that John Harder built.}

You see, you knew when you were in John Harder’s house. There was an unmistakable quality that marked his home. And this inexplicable sense of love and security exists in my father’s house. It exists in my uncle’s house. It exists in my brothers’ house(s), and in my cousin’s house. And I pray to God it exists in my house. {It exists because grandpa knew from whom our family was named, and he prayed we would know Him, too.}

Scripture – Ephesians 3:14-21

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Please pray with me.

“Our God and our Father, from whom my family is named. I thank you for this day. A day to be together with my brothers, my sister, my cousin, my parents, my aunt and uncle, and my grandma.

I pray that these next few moments be a time of to celebrate the life of grandpa. A life that was truly well-lived.

And I pray that You would comfort us in these next few moments. Specifically, I pray you would comfort grandma. She is a woman who despite having struggled with her sight for my entire life, she has seen more clearly the truth of this life, more than anyone I’ve ever known. I pray now that you would comfort her with that truth.

I pray that it is a time to rehearse those things we’ve long believed. Those truths grandpa believed.

The truth that death has no victory here. The truth that to depart from the body is to reside in the presence of the Lord. And the truth that when You return, grandpa will be among the first to rise… and we will meet You with him. Amen.”

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