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My Thoughts About Tom Barrett’s Life

November 29, 2021

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, dents on our side and grease on the engine, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow...what a ride!" That was Tom Barrett.

The opportunity to live and then experience life is the greatest of all gifts. That means God planned you from the beginning of the foundations of the earth. It means that your presence here on earth is not an accident. It means that you have been decreed, assigned, and dedicated in advance for a particular purpose that only you can do while here on this earth. It means you are the way you are because of why you are. It means that you have the potential to enjoy the privileges and the presence of God in heaven for all eternity. 

In other words, when the Lord made you, too, He looked at you and said, “I’ll never do that again!” From the moment you were born, God has been getting you ready for what He has ready for you.  

“And David, after he had served the purpose of God in His own generation, fell asleep and was laid among his fathers” Acts 13:36. It’s appointed for man once to die. None of us will be late for that appointment.

Tom fulfilled his God-given purpose in this life and now has gone home. But think of it this way. Our loss is heaven’s gain. 

Just like Jesus, He and we can say, “It is finished, and well done thy good and faithful servant.” “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” “Today you shall be with Me in paradise.” God simply made Tom’s future…His and our present. All Tom’s life, he was only waiting for this moment to arrive. That’s why Tom signed up. He is in heaven, and now he can say, “Wow…what a ride!”

Tom lived by the following principle. ‘We are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience.’ Tom understood that life on this side of the curtain was temporal. He also understood that life on the other side of the curtain is eternal. He realized you don’t follow Jesus because He makes life better. You follow Jesus because He is better than life. And that is my encouragement for us today.

Let’s explore this Bible verse for a few minutes. It reminds me of Tom. "They (the honest) won't ever be troubled, and the kind things they do will never be forgotten." — Psalm 112:6         

Let’s remember Tom and never forget who Tom was and what Tom did

I first met Tom at the Phoenix University of Theology (now Primus University). We would spend hours talking about God, values, politics, and the state of our union. His passion was quietly contagious. His influence was stealth. He spoke softly and carried a big stick. So, here are some characteristics about Tom that I noticed and probably you will too.  

*Tom Possessed Faith and Faithfulness. Tom possessed the gift of faith and the fruit of faithfulness. His perspective was “God’s going to do something in this situation and let’s be part of it.” Tom was a Warrior of Faith and Faithfulness and that pleased God. If God said it, that was it! He refused to walk down any road called ‘Doubt.’ Faith is not something that goes against the evidence, faith goes beyond it.” 

*Tom was a Father of the Faith. Tom was a father of the Faith to many of us. If you have a problem, go see Tom. He was ‘Christlike.’ Tom was happy just to be available and be around. His presence created an atmosphere of stability and security. Tom possessed a depth of relationship that is unusual in our current culture. 

*Tom was Fair. As far as I could see, Tom treated everyone the same. He had a great sense of justice, just like a great elder should. He abhorred what is evil and clung to what is good. His writing consistently reveals his fairness and concern for people who were being taken advantage of. 

*Tom was Frank and Forthright.  If you asked Tom his opinion, He would tell it like it is. His answer and demeanor were never a personal attack. It was what He honestly thought from what he honestly believed was God’s perspective. It was for building you up, elevating you, liberating you, transforming you. Tom could frequently see because He was tuned in to God’s frequency. That quality showed up in his writing also. Tom didn’t suffer from ‘Truth Decay’ like many other writers are these days. 

*Tom Was a Force, but a Quiet Force. There was just something about him that when you were around him, you should behave. He was power under control. He had the power of governance. If you paid attention, you could sense it. He was a pillar, not a caterpillar. He lived from confidence, not arrogance or timidity. 

*Tom Had Favor with God and Favor with Man. That’s hard to do these days. Even if he said something you didn’t agree with, you never went away enemies. In a few days, you would be better for it and even appreciate his candor. He spoke the truth in love. He had favor with God and man the way Jesus did. 

*Tom was a Good Friend. Tom didn’t have many enemies unless it was political. He may not agree with you, but He would stand by you. He knew how to be a friend and yet something more. If things were good Tom was with you. If things were tough, Tom was really with you. There’s a difference.

*Tom was a Forerunner. Tom was a gift from God to us because as a Father, he was a Forerunner. Tom was an example and a sample of how to handle life and what it throws at you. As far as I know, the way He finished the race of his earthly life was exemplary. He handled life with faith, grace, strength, diligence, dignity, and a great attitude. 

When you are going through your last days, remember Tom’s example. He is a forerunner for many other runners in our faith community.

Let me finish with scripture that reveals every person’s God-desired Rite of Passage. 

“…O Death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” God planted the seed of a perishable body but through death came the harvest of an imperishable body. We are sown a natural body but are raised in a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. The spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man is from earth, earthy; the second man (who is the same man) is from heaven.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-58.

You see, life springs out of death. There is always a spring, summer, autumn, and winter…but then spring comes again. The four seasons are trying to tell us something, aren’t they? They are saying seed time and harvest time. I’d guess, from God’s perspective, spring has sprung for Tom, and one day it will be for us too. Remember, he’s a forerunner.

One thing this 72-year-old friend and colleague can say about Tom is, “Wow, I want to be like Tom when I grow up!”

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
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