Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Rusty, and what we won't forget

Rusty Griffin and Jerry Varnado in their early years.
This past week, Jerry lost a lifelong friend, Rusty Griffin.

Because Jerry is a pastor, we attend and/or conduct many, many funerals, but I can’t remember one that was more inspirational than Rusty’s service.

Here’s why . . .

Rusty grew up in a small town where his family owned a regional agricultural chemical business. Rusty’s father died when Rusty was in his mid-twenties, leaving him to run the company. One speaker at the service jokingly said many were just waiting to see how long it would take for the business to fold.

But Rusty took a hard look at the future of the market and made what might have seemed at the time unorthodox choices. Those choices enabled the company not only to survive but to thrive.

He took that company operating in three states to one that did business not only nationally but in eighty foreign countries.

Additionally, he sat on prestigious state boards, served on the board of directors for a large entertainment company, and served as chair for a private school among many other accomplishments.

Somewhere along the way, Rusty could have decided to exercise his Christian faith in terms of being a benefactor alone. But Rusty didn’t accept a position behind a desk simply writing checks. He didn’t phone in his service. The day of Rusty’s funeral, he was scheduled to be in a state prison ministering to inmates, a place he routinely visited to share his witness. He also participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The Mailbox Club, his church, and many other ministries.

According to Rusty’s obituary, “He desired to spread the name of Jesus across the globe.” In Sunday school this past Sunday, we covered verses in Deuteronomy 4. Interestingly, those verses were also my daily reading yesterday. As Moses was giving instructions to Israel just before they entered the Promised Land, he said in verse 6, “Observe them (decrees and laws) carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations . . .” That's what Rusty did. He lived his life with an intention to spread the name of Jesus among the nations.

God honored that desire with enlarging his territory as the prayer of Jabez says. (I Chronicles 4:10). God allowed Rusty to realize his heart’s desire through his global business and ministry opportunities. I would imagine that many of those he conducted business with knew of his Christian faith. Who knows what God has done through those connections? Sometimes, I think we forget how big God is and that He desires for us, as he instructed the Israelites, to reach the nations.

John Wesley wrote in his journal in 1739, “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.” I think it would be safe to say that Rusty followed Wesley’s admonition.

As family pictures scrolled before the service, the thing that most struck me was how joyful he seemed. His facial expressions were not “let’s all pose for the camera.” They were “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” His love of his sweet wife, Barbara, his three daughters, and nine granddaughters was so evident. Rusty and Barbara’s fifty-two years of marriage are a glory to God and a witness to all who know them. Truly inspiring.

Though we lived a distance apart, I feel privileged because of Jerry’s friendship with Rusty that I was able to be included in Rusty’s orbit a few times through the years.

He has left me with a renewed desire to leave it all on the field, to live with intentionality, to touch as many people I can with the love of God, and to create a legacy that will last.

Thank you Rusty, for all you’ve given us. We've heard your message loud and clear. We won't forget.

I'm so excited to share the cover of my new book releasing in January,
A Plan for Everything!




Amy King said...

Thank you, Mrs. Beverly! What a beautiful post! These words are so comforting!

Beverly Varnado said...

Amy, We are keeping you and your family in our prayers as you face these challenging days. Your dad has left you quite a legacy. He was truly an amazing man. I feel privileged to have known him. Much love to you all, Bev

Kay Powell said...

Beverly, what wonderful and meaningful insight into Rusty's life. Thank you for sharing it and for writing it.
Kay Powell

Beverly Varnado said...

Thank you, Kay. For some reason I've had trouble commenting on my own blog therefore the delay. I do appreciate your kind words. Blessings, Bev

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