Thursday, March 28, 2013

Celebrating the Life of Bob Scroggs

Bob Scroggs. What an awesome guy.

I remember the day I got the call. I was on a personal prayer retreat. Hiking helps me to pray, and on this day I was hiking up to Lovers Leap in Hot Springs, NC. My cell phone rang and I saw that the caller was Lynn Scroggs. The news was not good. Bob was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

That was back in October of 2011. Bob managed to live another 16 months, and during most of those days he was smiling, laughing, caring about people, and witnessing for Jesus. When I would visit him in the hospital or hospice facility, it was obvious that he was the nurses' favorite patient. Everybody loved Bob. You couldn't help it. He was so full of life and joy. So upbeat. So friendly and outgoing.

And he really cared about people. One of the reasons he and Lynne came to Covenant was to find a good place for Josh and Letson Hernandez. Josh and Letson were in Lynn's Sunday school class at another church when they were just 4 and 5 years old. As they grew into later elementary and middle school years, Bob and Lynn wanted to make sure these young men from El Salvador were in an active church with a strong youth group.

Bob's memorial service was this past Saturday. It was great to see the church family come together to support Lynn and celebrate Bob's life. Even in the midst of Room in the Inn and preparations for Palm Sunday and the children's mini-musical, Covenant members worked hard to get the place ready, prepare for a great meal, and put together a beautiful service. (I especially want to thank the Covenant staff members who put in a lot of extra hours last week.)

Last summer I was preaching on the Body of Christ as part of a series on Corinthians. Bob volunteered to come by the church and share some of his positive thoughts on the Body of Christ at Covenant. He not only talked about the church--he talked about life, about death, about his family and Lynn--and about his relationship with Jesus. He explained why he wanted to be cremated: "I've always liked to pester people. This way Lynn can scatter me anywhere, and then whenever somebody gets a speck of dust in their eye, they'll say, 'Oh, there's that Bob Scroggs bothering me again!'"

That clip and other portions of Bob's video were played at his celebration. It was both poignant and exciting to hear him speaking to us "from the grave" like that.

After the service each lunch table was adorned with a unique centerpiece--a Jesus hat and sticks of Bob's favorite (ever-present) chewing gum.

Bob was always so joyful. I am challenged by that. Through all his suffering I never heard him complain. When he would share grim news with me he would always add, "But you know what, I've already lasted ___ months longer than they said I would!" Once when he was rushed to the hospital I went to visit him and I said, "Bob, I'm sorry you're in the hospital again." And he smiled and said, "I'm not! I'm feeling so much better since they brought me here!"

Bob was the epitome of Philippians 4:4--"Always be full of joy in the Lord." As I said Saturday: If Bob can face suffering and death with so much joy, could not you and I go through life with a bit more joy? A bit more gratitude? A bit less grumbling and complaining?

I hope so. That's just one of the things I hope to learn from the time I've had with Bob.
The Scroggs family and me before the service. I wore jeans under my coat and tie in honor of Bob!

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