ain began falling at the very moment the pall bearers entered with the wooden casket. The timing was so precise as to be unmistakable. It doesn't rain in May in Israel. This was a response from heaven ... as if God was kissing His assembled children, having received back to Himself a chosen son. How could we give any other interpretation to this divine participation? Water streamed down our faces mingling with the tears of amazement being shed by many.
We had gathered to honor the life and memory of Bob Claster at the Poriya cemetery, on a high bluff overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Who could explain why he was taken at age 53 in the bloom of health? Bob's heart gave out while jogging, training for a triathlon, no less. The puzzlement of his early and completely unexpected departure gave way to wonder at the quality of this man's life, as one after another of his friends and family came forward to speak of a man who didn't just "talk the talk, but walked the walk."
A Jewish New Yorker, Bob came to faith in Yeshua in his mid-20s and went on to study media communications at CBN (now Regents) University. Soon after arriving in Israel in 1989, he became co-producer of the long-running Galilee Experience multi-media presentation. Bob most recently devoted himself to the Mega-Voice project, utilizing solar powered voice units to spread the gospel to remote areas of the world. Each of his co-workers emphasized his passion to pour energy into every phase of a job and to demand excellence from those on his team.
What really "knocked me out" during the memorial service was the way Bob's wife and younger daughter worshiped the Lord with unfeigned devotion. I could not help but weep, watching them lift their arms wide to the Lord. Their faces were turned heavenward, glistening from the fresh rain, radiant in the light of the Lord. Lesley and Abigail glorified God at the very moment they would have been humanly justified in mourning with unbridled grief. Grief there certainly was and will be. But the way they honored the Lord reminds me of the Kaddish, Judaism's oft repeated prayer of mourning with which the ceremony drew to a close. It begins "Let His great name be magnified and sanctified in the world which He created according to His will; and may He establish His kingdom in your life, and in your days, and in the life of all the house of Israel, speedily and at a near time, and say 'Amen.'" How do you explain praise offered freely and beautifully to God in such circumstances? This was not the response of denial, nor of sedated numbness. Here were two women vividly manifesting Isaiah's prophecy concerning our entire nation. God says His intent is "To comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."(Isaiah 61:2,3) They even wore white instead of black.
Bob met weekly with a small group of men for something like 20 years. During the memorial each of them shared their knowledge of the man, acknowledging him as the prime energy behind the gatherings. They spoke of his honesty, his drive to know the word of God and live by it, his love of camping and the outdoors, and his sense of humor that touched the ironies of life and his own foibles. All of them poignantly reflected on the impact this one man had made on them. I was deeply impressed. Here was a life well-lived. Bob himself was the first to admit he wasn't perfect; he was a son of God who wrestled with his sins and faults. But even so, Bob continued to grow closer to his Lord and to be changed into His image. What a fine example! What an inspiration to apply ourselves daily to the same process of being changed into the image of Yeshua. "So, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalms 90:12)
Isn't this what we all need to do, not just in the fresh aftermath of a funeral, but day by day?
When Bob and Lesley's lovely 19 year old daughter Abigail, a strong, joyful disciple of Messiah stepped up the microphone, every eye was fixed on her. Here's how she began: "Dad, you are my hero, my rock, my guide. When I went into my time of teen rebellion our relationship was remade. You reached out to me and we could talk about everything. I'm going to honor you with my life always. You have made me what I am." That was it. I was undone. Here is a testimony every dad should covet. This is the kind of father I want to be. This is the kind of father our teenage children desperately need.
Walking slowly back to my car through the newly harvested wheat field, the verse came to mind, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." (John 12:24) How can we even begin to understand death without the revealed truth of God? When I was a little boy I hated and feared the mere thought of dying. Later, the senseless death of a dear buddy back in our mountain hippie days forced me to confront my vague, nature-centered spirituality as inadequate. His death enabled me to discover the Messiah! Not long after deciding to follow Yeshua, my life was threatened with a high powered rifle aimed at my forehead. Oddly, instead of being afraid, I was assured of my eternal fate. I knew that if my physical life ended, my soul would return to its Maker and experience exquisite fellowship. Death has this way of clarifying the meaning and value of life.
"How then should we live?" This is the question the Apostle Kefa (Peter) asks. As far as I know, Bob Claster had no official ministry title or position in a congregation. But those who were blessed to know him were touched forever by his authentic walk with God. His life was a good response to the question "How should we live?" May his dear wife, his daughters Abigail and Dari (who lives in the States) and their congregation in Poriya,* be surrounded with all the support they will need in life's next season.
*One of the Tents of Mercy family of congregations
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Daniel Juster: Anti Christian Zionism|
|Marty Shoub: Destined To Return|
|Asher Intrater: Keeping The Sabbath|