At 8:57am (cst) this morning Edward Kopp, my grandfather, passed from this life into the next. He was a hero. An ordinary everyday superman. My hero. He was a husband of one, father of three, grandfather of eleven, great grandfather of sixteen, and friend of many. He was a passionate Christ follower for almost forty years.
I can't cry like I want to for fear that the TSA will think me a suspicious individual and haul me off.
How do you lose a hero?
He modeled what it means to love the same woman for 65 years. He told me that he asked her to marry him a dozen times before she finally called him and said she'd have him if he'd still have her. He told me, "Sometimes I'd pinch her so she'd get mad at me and chase me around the house, just so we could "make up"". He adored her. Through sickness and health, For richer for poorer, he followed his vows until his final breath. He modeled what it means for me to "love (my) wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:25) I want to be that man.
He modeled what it means to work and provide for his family. He worked shift work for the same company for almost 40 years. I remember my brother and I talking with him about working. My brother said, "Well at least you enjoyed your job." To which he replied, "I never liked my job. I would have much rather worked with my hands." To the modern sentiment of "its all about me and my comforts and enjoyment" he stood as a man that lived for others. "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." (Colossians 3:23-24) I want to be that man.
He modeled what it means to serve while enjoying life. Most of the memory that I have of my granddad was after his retirement. He spent a significant amount of this time serving young men in a juvenile detention center. He would teach them what the Bible said about Christ's love for them, and he would model that unconditional love towards them as he called the man out in them. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (1John 4:11) I want to be that man.
He modeled the art of manliness by the skill of his hands. He could build anything. I remember coming to play at their house as a kid and he'd disappear in to his shop, that smelled of sawdust, varnish, and old tools, and would emerge 30 minutes later with a wooden rifle so I could "hunt" the squirrels that haunted the magnificent garden in his back yard. He'd build an addition on their home, create a coke can airplane, and paint a new bird house. When my grandmother wanted some new cabinets, no box store cabinets were good enough. He built them to custom fit. And they were beautiful. Through this he taught me that God does the same things with His holy hands in us. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) I want to be that man.
He modeled what it mean to be a disciple of Jesus. Pawpaw never new his biological father. He came to the stark realization that Mr. Kopp was not his birth father when he went to sign up for the Army Air Corp and his signature didn't match his birth certificate. Mr. Kopp adopted my grandpa when pawpaw was in his mid-twenties. My grandmother had to sign permission for him to be adopted, since they were already married! Through all this he gained a new earthly father.
When pawpaw was in his early fifties he was at a training with a young man on how to share the Gospel. His pastor had asked him to go thinking he understood it himself. After talking to my pawpaw the young man asked him, "Have you ever, by faith, made Jesus your personal Lord and Savior?" Pawpaw said, "No, I haven't." And right there Pawpaw got a new Heavenly Father. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17) I am so thankful that, thanks to the model of faith in my pawpaw, I am that man!
His final words to me in this life, when I spoke with him on the phone two days ago were, "I love you. I'm proud of you." What young man will not weep with gratitude at words like this from a man like him. I WANT to be that man!
For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 15:53-57)
We need more heroes like Edward Case Kopp (August 29, 1926 - December 6, 2012)