(Editor’s note: David asked Rick to make his eulogy a testament to the teachings of The Urantia Book. He wanted those gathered to hear what his religious life was about.)
My name is Rick Lyon. I have known David Linthicum for many years. I am and always shall be his friend.
I first want to point out the design you may have seen that David had engraved on the headstone and the pin I am wearing. The cross combined with the three blue concentric circles. The cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus. The blue circles represent the Trinity—God the Father, the Eternal Son, and the Infinite Spirit. The cross represents the greatest demonstration of love this universe has ever known, and the blue circles represent the source of that love.
When Billy Graham was nearing the end of his time on this earth, he was asked if he feared death. His reply was: “Fear death? I look forward to it. When you hear that Billy Graham is dead, don’t you believe it.”
This mortal life is only a shadow, the beginning, of spiritual reality. What comes next is more real and more true, beautiful, and good than anything we can experience in this life on earth.
Often when we lose a loved one due to disease or illness, we ask: Why do bad things happen to good people? This was a bad thing and David and Gena are certainly good people. But that is just the way the world is. The greatest affliction is to have never been afflicted, meaning that we learn and grow more from adversity than we do from a life of ease. As a child of God, we are not supposed to stay in this material world. This is our origin, not our destiny.
Our personality, that unique and non-material expression of who we really are, comes from the Father and like the Father, it is eternal. Having come from the Father, we seek to return to the Father. That is our destiny.
We have all seen videos of an egg hatching. The chick cannot be set free until the shell is broken and cast aside. We are like that. We are spiritual embryos inside a mortal shell and not until the shell is cast aside are we really set spiritually free. A chick will flop around gaining strength through trial and error until one day it leaps from the nest and learns to soar through the sky. It is only after we are free of this physical shell that we learn to soar with the angels.
This mortal life is only the beginning of the journey to the promised land of spiritual reality and eternal existence. It is difficult for us to grasp the idea of an eternal purpose—something never beginning and never ending—because everything familiar to us has a beginning and an end. We cannot see before the beginning or after the end.
Our lives suddenly appear for a season, and then they are lost to human sight, only to reappear as new beings, resurrected into a higher spiritual life to swing endlessly around the circle of eternity invisible to mortal eyes. When someone tells you that our beloved David is dead, don’t you believe it. Let me assure you that David is more alive today than he ever has been.
We are here today to celebrate the lives of our beloved David. We celebrate the life he lived while here and the new life he now lives in one of the many mansions that Jesus promised is waiting for us. If it were not so, Jesus would have told us.
One of my favorite quotes says something like this: “A great king has many servants but a great man serves many people.” That is David.
“Some men’s lives are too great and noble to descend to the low level of being merely successful.” (196:3.2, 2096.8) The religious person transcends their environment and overcomes the limitations of the material world through a recognition of divine love, the awareness of God, which creates a desire to find truth, beauty, and goodness and in that way strives to become perfect even as God is perfect which is the meaning of the phrase “to do the will of God.”
David was a much loved and highly respected spiritual leader, teacher, and mentor. David knows the truth and lived the truth—loyally and steadfastly. He talked the talk and walked the walk as we say but he also helped others to know the path wherein to walk.
When you saw David, you saw a humble, warm, compassionate, and easy-going Oklahoma cowboy, who loved being out in nature, which is the most beautiful of all God’s cathedrals. But there is so much more to David.
A few weeks ago, David asked me to stand before you here today. I am deeply honored by his request and his trust. David wrote a few things he wanted me to share with you as we celebrate his previous life.
The first things he listed were from the 5th and 6th grade, which are Boy Scouts, bowling, and baseball. He wrote that his baseball team’s record was one win and eleven losses with the one win coming from the other team forfeiting. David is a humble man with a keen sense of humor.
David was in the navy from 1975 to 1979. David loved and served his country and was a member of the Convention of States. David is a patriot.
In the 1980’s he served in the Junior Chamber of Commerce, also known as the Jaycees. He volunteered with Junior Achievement, teaching basic economics to 8th graders. David was a brave soul. He served as the state chairman for the Hugh O’Brien Youth Foundation known as HOBY that inspires young people to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. How many young lives David touched through this program we will never know. Service is love in action and David is one of the most loving people that ever lived.
This is about the time that I got to know David. In 1996 he discovered a book that I will describe as a religious philosophy based on the life and teachings of Jesus. This is The Urantia Book. This spiritual philosophy, for all of us who have discovered it, changed our lives. It is a way of living that recognizes the fatherhood of God and the resulting brotherhood of mankind.
If God is the father of all, then we are all brothers and sisters, regardless of race, religion, or nationality and we should treat each other as such in the family of God. When you interact with other people remember that they too are a child of God. Do unto others as you believe God would do unto them.
The Urantia Book reveals that true religion is our own personal relationship with God at whatever level that may be for each of us. While we may have different beliefs, we all share the same faith in the one God. For David and thousands of people like him around the world, this philosophy of living became our passion—and our purpose is to live it to the best of our ability and to share it with everyone we can. With this new knowledge of the life and teachings of Jesus we can make this world a better place by inspiring individuals to become better people.
Recently, after one of the school shootings a lady in the post office asked me, “Why do young people do such things?” I replied: “Because they do not value themselves or others.” Too often we are told that we are born sinners and not worthy of being loved by God… or anyone else. But don’t you believe it. One of the most profound teachings of The Urantia Book is that you are a child of God. The father in heaven and the creator of a vast universe of universes, Almighty God himself—loves you. He loves you personally and individually. He loves you so much that he has given you a spirit fragment of himself to guide you through this life so that you are never alone. He created angels to watch over you and he sent his beloved son Jesus to show you the way.
Many times we cry, “Nobody knows how I feel,” but if you are willing to investigate The Urantia Book, you will discover not only the divine Jesus but also the human Jesus who led a life of mortal joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies. He experienced life as a mortal child, a teenager, and a young man. Jesus not only knows how you feel but what you have endured and what you have achieved personally and spiritually. God is not waiting for you to mess up or make mistakes, God is your loving Father who is doing all he can to help you succeed and survive and find your way home.
Let me get back to David’s list. He served as a charter member and President of the Spirit of Oklahoma Urantia Association, two terms as the treasurer and two terms as president of Urantia Association of the United States, and four years as the Dissemination chairman, which is a spiritual outreach committee of Urantia Association International.
In 2005, David became the Chair of the Prisoner Inquiry Response Team. He was personally aware of the needs of those who were isolated from family and friends so this was something he did to help those men and women to know that they are loved, forgiven and NOT forgotten. Over 4000 inmates have been touched by this program. We have many letters from inmates who have turned their lives around by learning the good news that they are children of God who are loved and valued by our Father in heaven and by others who care about them. My wife Susan is part of this team and very proud of what it has accomplished.
David and I worked together to send 75 books to a group in Malawi who only had one book to share among 75 students. From that, a young leader emerged who wanted to be a doctor. David helped this bright young man go to school and he did become a doctor. Somewhere along the way this young man impressed someone who got him a scholarship to a university in Ireland where today he is working on his PHD while several of us are helping to provide for his family while he is away. This fellow is Grevet Moyo and he and his wife Linda send their love and condolences to the family of David.
In 2011, Urantia Association International hosted a leadership symposium in Chicago. David created the program for that event from what he learned from HOBY. Because of this well-organized program, over 300 spiritual leaders from 27 countries were inspired to work together and today they have produced significant leaders in service to God and mankind. Because of this event we are seeing a great surge of interest in this new revelation of Jesus especially in South America.
David helped me create the Worldwide Ministry of Jesus. As a nonprofit organization, we are raising funds to support the Center for Unity in Israel and their projects to bring the life and teachings of Jesus to the world using state of the art technology and ultimately create a Jesus Museum in Israel.
After reviewing many of the great things David accomplished in this life, we are excited to contemplate what even greater things he will accomplish on his way to Paradise and I for one plan to be part of his team for eternity.
One of the many lessons from the death of Jesus is the superb manner and the matchless spirit in which he met his death. David kept his sense of humor, dedication to service, and loyalty to God and family all through the difficult times of the past several months. Gena shared with me that David left her a list of quotes saying “These will help you.” Just as Jesus provided for his mortal family as he hung on the cross asking the apostle John to watch over them, David provided for the peace and comfort of his family after he had gone. Gena told me that as they waited in the emergency room one last time, David said, “I am so excited to see Jesus.” I imagine Jesus is excited to see David.
I invite you now to close your eyes and, in your mind, envision the events I am about to share with you.
“Although it was early in the season for such a phenomenon, shortly after twelve o’clock [on the afternoon of Friday, April 7, A.D. 30,] the sky darkened because of the fine sand in the air. The people of Jerusalem knew that this meant the coming of one of those hot-wind sandstorms from the Arabian Desert.” [Paper 187:5.1]
“Shortly after one o’clock, amidst the increasing darkness of this fierce sandstorm, Jesus began to fail in human consciousness. His last words of mercy, forgiveness, and admonition had been spoken. His last wish—concerning the care of his mother—had been expressed. During this hour of approaching death, the human mind of Jesus resorted to the repetition of many passages in the Hebrew scriptures, particularly the Psalms. The last conscious thought of the human Jesus was concerned with the repetition of a portion of the Book of Psalms now known as the twentieth, twenty-first, and twenty-second Psalms. While his lips would often move, he was too weak to utter the words—as these passages, which he knew so well by heart, would pass through his mind. Only a few times did those standing nearby catch some utterance, such as, ‘I know the Lord will save his anointed,’ ‘Your hand shall find out all my enemies,’ and ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Jesus did not for one moment have even the slightest doubt that he had lived in perfect accordance with the Father’s will; and he never doubted that he was now laying down his life in the flesh in accordance with his Father’s will. He did not feel that the Father had forsaken him; he was merely reciting in his vanishing consciousness many Scriptures, among them the twenty-second Psalm, which begins with ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And this happened to be one of the three passages which was spoken clearly enough to be heard by those standing near him.” [Paper 187:5.2, page 2010.3]
“The sandstorm grew in intensity and the heavens increasingly darkened. Still the soldiers and the small group of believers stood by. The soldiers crouched near the cross, huddled together to protect themselves from the cutting sand. The mother of John and others watched from a distance where they were somewhat sheltered by an overhanging rock. When the Master finally breathed his last, there were present at the foot of his cross John Zebedee, his brother Jude, his sister Ruth, Mary Magdalene, and Rebecca, onetime of Sepphoris.
“It was just before three o’clock when Jesus, with a loud voice, cried out, “It is finished! Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And when he had thus spoken, he bowed his head and gave up the life struggle. When the Roman centurion saw how Jesus died, he smote his breast and said: ‘This was indeed a righteous man; truly he must have been a Son of God.’ And from that hour this centurion began to believe in Jesus.” [Paper 187:5.4,5, page 2010.5- p 2011.1]
We know that David dedicated his life to doing the will of God.
Let us pray:
Our Father in Heaven,
We thank you for loving us and creating us to love you. We thank you for all you do for us and all you do with us. May all we do glorify you and be pleasing in your sight.
We thank you for the family and friends gathered here today to celebrate the previous and new life of David Linthicum and to express our love and support for each other. We thank you for allowing us to be part of David’s life and for his being part of ours.
Just as Jesus demonstrated through his resurrection on the third day, the truth and the fact, the very proof of all he taught and promised about salvation and eternal life, we know that David has now experienced that same resurrection morning, awakening from this material life to the spiritual life with a new healthy body. We are told that in heaven we shall know and be known. We know that David is having a joy-filled reunion with all those family and friends who went before him.
Father, I ask that you help all the family and friends gathered here to realize that all the pain, suffering, trials and tribulations of this life will be replaced by peace, comfort, and security in the next life. Give them the absolute assurance that David is now safe in your loving arms and the bosom of our lord Jesus Christ.
Father, we pray for David’s family and friends and ask your blessing upon them, and for their peace and comfort in this difficult time. May any darkness of grief be illuminated by the light of joy from their memories of one they loved and one who loved them and by your promise of the future. Help us to realize that there is no need to suffer anything other than the temporary pain of separation from one who has graduated from this life to the next.
Father, we the family and friends of David Linthicum have commended his material body to the earth from which it came. His soul and spirit have been commended to you from which they came. Bless his journey from this life to the next and may all of us take comfort and rejoice in knowing that someday, if we so choose, we too shall stand before you and hear those words we all long to hear:
Well done my true and faithful servant. Well done. David would want me to share a few final quotes with you that I know are some of his favorites.
“There is in the mind of God a plan which embraces every creature of all his vast domains, and this plan is an eternal purpose of boundless opportunity, unlimited progress, and endless life. And the infinite treasures of such a matchless career are yours for the striving!” [Paper 32:5.7, page 365.3]
“The goal of eternity is ahead! The adventure of finding God lies before you! The race for perfection is on! whosoever will may enter, and certain victory will crown the efforts of every human being who will run the race of faith and trust, depending every step of the way on the leading of the indwelling spirit and the guidance of the Spirit of Truth which Jesus so freely poured out upon all mankind at Pentecost.” [Paper 32:5.8, page 365.4]
“Death is only the beginning of an endless career of adventure, an everlasting life of anticipation, an eternal voyage of discovery.” [Paper 14:5.10, page 159.6]