I said in a Facebook post soon after Robert died that I had lost the love of my life….That my husband and best friend was gone… I need to correct that statement, because I haven’t lost Robert… We’ve simply said goodbye for now. While Rob was in the hospital the last time in the ICU, just a week before he passed away, he told me that soon he would close his eyes and open them and be in the presence of the Lord. He continued to say, “What could be more beautiful?” He always said that he was in a win-win situation. He said if the Lord healed him, he’d have more time with us, and if he didn’t, he’d get a new body and be with the Lord.
Matt Chandler, in To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain, writes, “Jesus says, even if you die, you will live. For those united to Christ by faith, death has no sting and no victory. In fact, to be present with the Lord is better than life! The great preacher Dwight L. Moody, once quipped, ‘some day you will read in the paper that D. L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. Death is a homecoming for a Christian.
What Chandler wrote, rings true for Robert. His departure from this earth is not some great tragedy or mystery as some would suppose. It was his reward. Robert was not afraid to die, because he knew that God was in control of his life. He knew that cancer didn’t catch God by surprise, because NOTHING catches God by surprise; EVER… While he hoped for a healing, as we all did, he knew that God could call him home; and he was okay with that. Now you might be saying how could anyone be okay facing imminent death? How could one have peace, while so many others around him despaired? It’s simple. He trusted God. He didn’t trust him in the simple ways that we often say, trust the Lord; he’s got it… and then go home and worry about whatever problem it is we’re having… No, he trusted him with everything. His life, his family, all of those he loved… He trusted that God, who just happened to the creator of the universe, knew what he was doing.
Robert had an insight that I’ve seen few people possess in my 42 years of living. He was the real thing y’all. He knew that God was his father and that Jesus died on the cross for him, and he didn’t take that lightly. He lived for the Lord. He taught his children about God. He sat up late discussing the word of God with his kids, and with me… He sought to know and to follow God’s heart. He made unpopular decisions. We were considered weird, even in the Christian community because my husband followed the leading of the Lord to homeschool our children. He worked hard, sometimes taking on two or three jobs so that I could stay at home and educate our children, because he believed that God wanted it that way. He challenged me to seek the Lord and to forgive those who hurt me… He put our family first. Every. Single. Time. He put me first before anyone else. He loved us well. He loved me well. He was my biggest cheerleader, and encouraged me to follow my dreams. He inspired me and allowed my faith to grow exponentially watching him battle cancer while praising God the entire time. That was no small feat. He had tumors growing on his spine. Imagine the worse backache you’ve ever had and multiply it by one million. He sang praise songs, he thanked God, and he worshipped his Father, all while he was in excruciating pain, and I looked on astonished at his tenacity. I told him that he was awesome and that I should definitely marry him. He said he would.
He never lost his sense of humor. Hours before he passed away and his ability to talk long gone, I told him that I loved him and he moved his eyebrows up and down… He used to do that to make me laugh when I teased him about his thick eyebrows… He was truly one of a kind. If there is any good in me, if I am any kind of a good friend, or mother, or sister, or daughter, it is because my husband encouraged me to be those things. As corny as it sounds, he made me want to be a better person. If he were here right now, he would tell you that he could be the man that he was only through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He was by no means perfect; though he’d jokingly say, he was darn close.
If you knew us well, you’d know we had a very special relationship. We had a great marriage. We were still best friends after sixteen years of marriage, and he was still the one. Still the one I rushed home to, still the one I couldn’t wait to talk to, and still the one who held my heart gently in his hands… For those of you who may not know, we never dated before we were married. He was my best friend, and I was his… Sure, I admit to having a crush on him. So I prayed. I asked God to either change my heart or to make it happen. He was in the army and stationed in Washington State. Two weeks after I prayed, I received a bouquet of flowers and a five page letter expressing his love to me and asking me to marry him. I hadn’t seen him in two years. Two months later and after one practice kiss on our wedding day, (so we wouldn’t look stupid) we were married. We never looked back.
There is no big secret to our marriage. We simply founded it in Christ. He was the focus. Putting Christ first makes it really hard to be selfish in a marriage. Robert told me early in our marriage that love was doing the things that you didn’t feel like doing; because you had to love the other person more than you loved yourself. He lived that statement out throughout our marriage. He had a servant’s heart and truly loved me as Christ loved the church. I treated him with respect and submitted (most of the time) to his Godly authority and we both submitted ourselves to Christ. Don’t get me wrong; we didn’t do it all right… In fact, we made a lot of mistakes. But we were quick to forgive each other and move on. We didn’t want to waste time with un-forgiveness. I’m so glad that we didn’t waste the time that God gave us… We had no regrets about our marriage or our life together.
I told Robert that if he died that I would be speaking at his funeral. I felt that I needed you to know some things about Robert. He said it sounded like a good plan. So here I am. I need you to know that Robert it okay. He’s not in pain anymore. He’s not suffering. He’s with Christ. He wanted to live, to continue raising our kids together; but he trusted that God knew best. This was not a mistake or some horrible thing that happened to him. God has been ever present and glorified throughout this entire ordeal. Robert would want you to know that. He would want you to understand that life is indeed a gift from God. He would tell you not to waste it. He would tell me, “Stop crying woman, God’s got it, trust him.” He would tell our children, “It’s going to be okay bucket heads, it looks bad, but God will see you through this…” So I’m telling you; trust the Lord in all of this; in every part of your life. In everything that you’re confused about or don’t understand. Trust Him. If you don’t know the Lord as your savior, trust him with your life right now. We’ve all heard the saying, tomorrow’s not promised; well, it’s really not. We only have right now. This moment. Right here.
My heart aches at the loss of my husband. For my children, who miss their dad terribly. For my sons, who will grow up without their father to teach them how to become men. For my daughters, who will miss their daddy’s hugs and kisses and hearing him sweetly say as only a daddy can, “You’re my beautiful princesses.” I miss my best friend. I miss seeing his gorgeous smile that lit up his whole face and his laughter that made my heart glad. I miss hearing his deep voice saying “I love you woman,” and his warm embrace that always made me feel so safe. There are so many things that I miss about him; but I have the assurance that I will see him again one day, because I’ve put my trust and life in Christ’s hands.
God is not something I’ve simply invented to comfort myself. Christ truly died on the cross to save us from our sins. He sacrificed himself for us. How deep a love must be to sacrifice one’s own life. Cry if you will, and mourn for my beloved husband, but don’t weep too long. Robert wouldn’t want you to. He wouldn’t want you to make a fuss about him. He’d be bothered that you took off from work to be here today. Really… He wouldn’t want you to focus on him, he would prefer that you focus on Jesus. That’s who Robert was. He was a servant, with a servant’s heart, and it was a blessing and a true honor to be his wife.
I pray that you will consider him, the way that he lived, and understand that he was the great man that he was because of Christ. To God be the honor and the glory in all things; yes, even this. I thank God for my husband and for blessing us with five amazing children. No matter the outcome, I’m glad to have known and loved and to have been loved by Robert Lee Deveaux.