When I think of Steve, I think of him down by the San Marcos River when we baptized his daughters. I think of working tirelessly at the fireworks warhouse and driving the bus for the teenagers. I think of him driving down the road on his lawn mower to check on his neighbor, Rowland, who just had heart surgery, and then cutting Rowland’s grass. I think of him dropping off prison prayer cards every Tuesday morning and making sure they got on my desk.
I think of a dignified man.
Steve Ketchum a dignified man.
Dignity is bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation. Dignity is the elevation of character or worthiness. Dignity is a sign or token of respect.
It turns out that dignity doesn’t need black ties, a lot of money, or elegant speech. Instead, dignified is comfortable in a flannel jacket and baggy jeans.
Dignity means raising three daughters without much money, without a wife, and without complaining.
Dignity is facing an HIV diagnosis alone. Many in the room didn’t know that. I’ll never forget the day he sat down in my office and told me he had HIV and wanted to know if he would be allowed to remain a member of our church. Yes, Steve, we still want you.
We often talk about people walking into the room and making a difference. They change the atmosphere. When so and so walked in the room everything changed. When Steve walked into the room, he walked in the room in a Bilbo Baggins sort of a way.
I recently saw the latest installment of the Hobbit and there is a scene where they are looking for a hero. Someone to make all the difference. Someone needs to go behind enemy lines, all the way to the heart of the enemy’s camp.
Who will go? They are looking for the strongest and the most experienced. They were looking for the one with the most intelligence and skill.
“I will go”, says Bilbo.
“No. You can’t go Bilbo. You are none of those things we are looking for.”
“I will go”, says Bilbo.
“I will go” says Steve. “I will go accomplish the task. I will get the job done.”
No one may notice. You might not ever get the credit.
No one may understand what load I am carrying.
And Bilbo goes on to accomplish task.
And Steve goes on to carry his cross with dignity.
Great Job, Steve! We applaud a job well done. I wish I would have told you when you here. You mean everything to us. You are PromiseLand. You are the epitome of PromiseLand. You were a Human wedged between two worlds. On one side…a future justice and resolution of all things: New Heaven and New Earth new and complete and on the other side… the painful reality that right now there are so many things left undone. There are still diagnoses, there are wrongs that heavily outweigh the scales of justice, Evil and death still roam the earth.
But, there are people like Steve who choose to look to a bright light. A savior who entered the world because a man like us and lived the perfect life. Jesus the Messiah.
What a great example Steve leaves us. Of brokenness that can have faith and hope in a future made right. Steve had many wonderful characteristics that we honor and remember. However, the truth is that Steve made mistakes too. He wasn’t perfect. The reason many of us in here today honor him with such high regard is that he did not take credit or honor in his own accomplishments. He was a great example of looking with faith-filled eyes toward God to the difference maker. To be the author and finisher of all things.
May we all look to Christ for our source of strength. May we all look to the bright hope in our future that comes from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Stepping into a relationship with an eternal and perfect God doesn’t take education or experience. God does not require a long pedigree of achievements worthy of his attention. God simply looks for those who admit their weakness and pledge to follow him. We follow him with our good days, accomplishments, new jobs and clients. We follow him through divorce and heartache.
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
For those so close. To Amber, Brittany, and Stephanie – We pray for you. We love you and stand with you in this valley. Sometimes there will be nothing to hold onto but memories. Remember your dad. Tell stories. Tell them over and over. To the little grandkids that won’t get a chance to talk to him, share the pics and the memories. It’s ok if Steve’s legend gets a little larger than life.
We believe that the strength from God’s Spirit will bring comfort.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. – Jesus
Isaiah 40:28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. 29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. 30 Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. 31 But those who trust in the lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.