The Death of a Best Friend

Today marks the one-year anniversary that one of my most cherished and loyal friends went to be with the Lord. His name was Noah Huss. If you had the privilege of knowing him, you would forever remember him. His funeral was packed and everyone seemed to share a common theme in describing their relationship to him and remembrance of him–loving, genuine, spiritual, funny, wise and disarming. I miss him tremendously and find myself often thinking of him in the quiet moments when I am all alone with my thoughts and memories. We were first introduced in the crib together by our mothers and therein began a life long friendship and brotherhood until an auto accident tragically took him from us. My heart aches for his family–especially his wife and three sons. In the depths of our being we know that those who die in Christ will one day be reunited to us in Christ… but it still hurts…and the sense of loss over a friend, a brother, a son, a father and a husband is profound. The following is what I shared in a eulogy at his funeral a year ago. I share it today in honor of him:

Yesterday was a hard day—but it was also a day that testified of the remarkable man Noah was. Only someone like Noah could bring together 3 decades of people to the same place. Yesterday I saw his kindergarden teacher, his teenage friends and his co-workers and I also met someone that had met Noah only two weeks before—just one time—and he said that conversation over lunch was so impacting that when he heard about his passing he felt compelled to drive down from PA and honor his life. His passing pulled so many people out of the woodwork of the past and that is a testimony of his life.
I had the privilege of being Noah’s friend ever since we were in a crib together. Noah once said he remembers the first day we met because I poked him in the eye. But since I was only 6 months old and he was only a few days old when our mothers introduced us…I think he made that up.
There was a significant and pivotal bonding moment in our friendship that I remember sooo clearly as if it was just yesterday. And it happened when I was around 7 or 8. I remember some of the other boys in the neighborhood had been picking on me. I don’t remember why or what it was about…I just remember feeling so rejected and hurt. And I also clearly remember turning to all of them and shouting, “Fine—go ahead and be meanies to me. I don’t care because I have a best friend—and his name is Noah Huss…and he lives on that hill!” And I marched off to Noah’s house that day and in many ways I never looked back.
He was such a good child-hood friend. People that knew me as a young kid will tell you I had this insane obsession with Davy Crockett and cowboys and Indians. Even though Davy Crockett wasn’t a cowboy I insisted that we induct him in the cowboy hall of fame and every day of our lives play cowboys and Indians. And of course I was Davy Crocket. The problem was I couldn’t find many Indians that wanted to play with me. But Noah…again so many times Noah was willing to be my Indian that I had to find in the woods.
I found out many years later that Noah didn’t really want to play cowboys and Indians all those times…but he accommodated me back then because friendship with him was built on a selfless foundation.  You felt so safe and assured around Noah because you knew you were around someone you could trust—who really wanted the joy of life to be about making you happy and making you laugh. And boy did he make us laugh.
Some of my greatest memories of Noah took place with him having a puppet on his hand or a fake beard on his face. I’m sure many of you who experienced the glory days of the hilarious Beachmont David Clough and then Noah Huss and Sue Bailey puppeteering  era will be nodding your head in agreement.
Spiritual formation for children was never more fun to watch. Daily belly spasms of humor came from watching Noah re-enact Bible characters. Sure he took some minor liberties…. But that’s what artists do. And Noah was in many ways an artist—not necessarily with a paintbrush but he was an artist in his heart and mind and he was an artist with his words. Sometimes he would be able to put words together that I didn’t think should ever go together and he gave you a whole new perspective on a subject. He was a philosopher of life without the egodropping pride of thinking he “knew it all.”
Now in saying all this, Noah wasn’t perfect… I think he was a Steelers fan….and I think he owned every Pink Floyd album. But whatever imperfections Noah had—he made up for many of them by marrying Rachel. Unfortunately over the past years geographical distance has kept me from being part of Noah’s life like I was before—which is why I was so touched to see the video put together of Noah and his family. He was a true father in a day and age when true fatherhood is in short supply.
I am telling you from the core of my being—this is not Noah. This is just the cosmetic, surface apartment Noah was paying rent to during his earthly journey with us. Now Noah is living rent free in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of all Lords. In the Bible. The apostle Paul says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
We don’t know “WHY” his life was cut short. But Noah wouldn’t want us to forever become captives  and prisoners of the “Why” question. It doesn’t lead anywhere and it just makes you a victim for as long as it dominates your life. And Noah would say, “You’re not a victim —you’re an overcomer.” Noah was an overcomer. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have questions. I know that Noah also had many questions—we all have questions sometimes. But Noah also believed that at the end of the day it is more important to know God than it is to know answers.
And I have no doubt that through God’s grace Noah’s very death will be overcome in such a way that God is going to bring life out of it for others.
So today we have come to say goodbye to a dear friend, a gentle son, a loyal brother, a faithful father and a loving husband. BUT we also take comfort in knowing that goodbyes like this are only temporary for those who are in covenant with God. For as the apostle Paul said, “We cry and we grieve—yes—but we don’t grieve as those without hope.” For those who have submitted their lives to be swallowed up in the majesty of Christ’s sacrifice, they will embrace Noah again. Noah has passed from death to life and he awaits us on the other side of the veil. This is no fairy-tail. And this is no pretentious cliché to soften the sting of death for us. This is true. This is the rock—the only Rock we are called to build our life on. The Bible says in 1 Cor. 15:55-58,
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
 55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law of condemnation. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord Jesus is not in vain.
I want to close by playing a little song…and actually it is a song recording of Noah singing when he was 14 years old. When he was 14 Noah and my brother wrote some songs together and they had a little concert at our church. Now I have to warn you…Noah would not have lasted very long on American Idol. At 14 his talent wasn’t carrying a pitch. But that didn’t stop him from singing. What I most want you to hear is what he says before he sings a song called “Neither” based on the verse in Romans 8 that says “Neither death nor life can separate from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
 Please listen: (Noah went on to sing a song about how death can never separate us from our Lord and Maker. But most astonishingly he took a few moments to personally share his own heart on the reality of death. He shared how death always frightened him and he often shuddered to think about it–but when he finally grasped the truth of Roman 8 he was forever changed and his fear of death disappeared with the certainty of knowing he would forever be in the hand and heart of Christ.)

I miss you much Noah! I will see you again!

-Strider MTB

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About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I am unmarried yet blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an even more broken and apathetic church.
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