On Oct. 4, the COVID-19 pandemic became very personal to me. Not only did I have the virus, but one of the best men I have ever met, contractor Dan Lancaster, of Meridian, died that morning after a valiant struggle with the blood clots that resulted from his coronavirus infection.
I was stunned. It just did not seem real, because I had spoken to him just a few days before. I am still trying to adjust to a world without Dan.
For many years, Dan, Jeff Brown and I gathered at JB’s in Meridian for breakfast on Thursday mornings. The serving staff always had our corner table reserved for us, and knew what we would order, because it was the same thing for years. Jeff ordered an “egg in the hole” (toast with an egg in the middle), and Dan and I always had one egg, over-easy, and one pancake. Dan had the same routine in eating. He ate his egg first, and then buttered his pancake, cutting it in half and laying one half on top of the other, and covering it with syrup.
Whenever it was his turn to ask God’s blessing on our food, Dan always asked for divine mercy on his family — which included his wife, Patty, his children and grandchildren — and his dear friends. I always gave him a copy of our Bible study notes from the day before, and sometimes we would talk about them. Our conversations would cover faith in God, the condition of the world, politics, his fuel additive, his current job, or which road or highway one should take to reach their destination.
There will always be an empty place at our corner table on Thursday mornings now.
Dan Lancaster was a master craftsman as a carpenter and developer of high-quality homes. If you want to know the kind of businessman he was, just check with his suppliers or the subcontractors with whom he worked. Dan had a good name in the business community.
One of my first reactions upon receiving the news was that this turbulent world cannot afford to lose quality people like Dan Lancaster, who was honest, humble, vulnerable and caring. There is not a surplus of individuals who love God and attempt to live every day fueled by that faith. Our world became a little poorer when Dan left. Hebrews 11:38 described some “of whom the world was not worthy.” That’s the way I felt about this man.
However, at this holiday season, my personal grief is being healed by thanking God for even allowing me to know a quality person like Dan. I realize many people do not have someone to enrich their life! I am a wealthier person because of God’s blessing of a friend. I really did not lose him, because I know where he is now. In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:8, he is “absent from the body, but present with the Lord.”
It was in a cemetery where John 11 said Jesus gave eloquence to tears as he wept with Martha and Mary before the tomb of their brother. The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, is simply, “Jesus wept!” Those standing close by could only comment, “See how he loved him!” With his arms around the grieving sisters, Jesus spoke the wonderful words of John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live!”
So, in the truest sense, Dan Lancaster is more alive today than he ever was in his 75 years on earth. He was given eternal life, a life that will never end, when he surrendered to Jesus as his savior years ago. Now that faith is paying full dividends.
So, Dan, ask the angels to set a special corner table for the JB’s Thursday morning guys, please. One manna pancake and one egg — over-easy.
Loren A. Yadon is pastor of New Life Fellowship of Boise. The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.