His Cause for Joy — Funeral for Michael “Mike” Rufledt, 67

If you had the chance to visit Mike over these past months of his final illness, might have come expecting to see a man anguished and crushed in the face of impending death. You might expect to find a quiet, somber, sad, inconsolable house. But if you visited, you encountered a house of joy; tears—but tears of love; and a joyful man, full of peace. How is this possible? It is the Lord. God had prepared him, God strengthened him, and God accompanied him through it all. And this began long ago.

When Mike was 31 years old, his father Ted died, and this event hit Mike really hard. Mike struggled with heavy grief, a grief he could not let go of or move beyond. He confided his pain to his mother and she gave him wise advice: “Pray to the Holy Spirit, Mike.” He took her advice and prayed. And that night or the next, he had a remarkable dream. He saw his father, standing before him, glowing with light, and smiling a large smile. His father did not say any words in the vision, but his presence and appearance were the message. Despite death, Mike’s father lived on, departed but not gone, still very much alive in God. Mike said that he was fine after that, so happy for his father that he was never stressed about his dad’s death again.

When Mike was 37, his mother Toni also died. Sometimes death’s approach is foreseen and we have time to prepare for it, but her death was sudden and unexpected. Mike was the first into her hospital room after she passed. He mournfully asked, not expecting a response, “What happened, Mom?” and kissed her on the forehead. And then, Mike reports, “I could feel her presence in the room.” Her spirit, her soul, was in his midst. And he heard her say, “It’s OK.” As you can imagine, that was incredibly consoling for Mike. About that time, his sister Mary called him on the phone. She was understandably distressed, like he had been just moments before. He told her, “It’s OK. It’s OK.” She said, “It’s not OK!” But he repeated the same words, “It’s OK.” He was too embarrassed, until recently, to share the story of the source of and reason for his peace that day.

Last year, Mike was up at his hunting cabin when he got the call from his doctor. He called with a grim diagnosis: it was cancer, serious cancer; and most likely, in the not very distant future, it would kill him. Imagine how it would be to receive such a diagnosis yourself. Mike felt like you might imagine. As he drove back home to break the news to Patti, he prayed, “I really need you now, Lord. You’re going to have to help me with this one. Let’s make the best out of this that we can.” To either miraculous recovery or death, they would take this journey together. In that hour Mike was not giving up, but surrendering himself, entrusting himself, to the Lord Jesus. And by the time he arrived back home to the farm, Mike felt peace, an incredible peace that remained with him through the months, weeks, and days that followed. Mike said towards the end of his illness. “[The Lord] really took the reigns on this one. And he stepped up immediately. He’s always there, but he went overboard on this one. I couldn’t thank him enough. He’s there for us all the time, all we have to do is ask. This has been a wonderful journey.

This Wednesday, we were marked with ashes for the beginning of Lent, for we are dust and to dust we shall return. Today we come to a Good Friday; not because death is good—death is not good—but because it is a more than OK thing to die with Jesus Christ. His life, passion, death, and resurrection—it’s all real, it’s true, and Mike’s great wish, then and now, is that you will believe in it, too. Jesus has given us the signs we need, so repent and believe in the Gospel.

One Response to “His Cause for Joy — Funeral for Michael “Mike” Rufledt, 67”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    AWESOME!! I know where he’s coming from :). This cancer has done me SO MUCH GOOD!

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