Dear Heavenly Father:
Thank You for Bob Pino. Thank You for the amazing example he was to so many of us.
Thank You for Bob's caring heart and for all the times he really stopped and really listened to us in our concerns, fears, and frustrations. Thank You for his gift in making everyone he met feel important, significant, and worthy of his attention. Thank You that he was the kind of person who--when unsure of how to advise--prayed before advising. Thank You that he was willing to teach us but that, always, he acknowledged You as being the true Teacher. Thank You for Bob's prayers. Thank You for his follow-up, which revealed that he didn't just pray and forget that he prayed but, instead, that he both believed You would respond and cared to know how You would work things out.
Thank You for Bob's authenticity: that he wasn't afraid to tell us about his past with all its failures, mistakes, sins, and shortcomings. Thank You because we were able to see clearly that Bob found You: that You filled and forgave him. Bob's testimony provided hope to so many, Father, who just hadn't been certain of Your tremendous capacity for grace and love. Thank You that--even as a Christian--Bob wasn't afraid to admit that he struggled, at times, with fear and sadness. This helped so many to see that just because someone chooses You doesn't mean he or she becomes perfect, or that things become easy.
Thank You for Bob's willingness to ask for prayer. I am so thankful for all the times he requested prayer not only for himself but also for his wife, children, sisters, and other family members and friends because this, too, revealed his absolute faith that You are available and listening; responding to our prayers; and all the time working things to our good. Thank You for Bob's acceptance of the help we offered and the gifts we brought to his doorstep; this was a true indication of his caring heart and wisdom in You. Bob understood that--in some small way--it made us feel better to do something for him, and he let us in over and over because he knew it helped us as much or more as it helped him.
Thank You for Bob's marriage and his eagerness to share that he and Jeannie were in all things together: that they read devotions together and prayed together, and that You were at the core of their relationship. Thank You for Bob's relationships with other family members, too, and what he taught us in really loving his wife, blood relatives, and all those to whom he was a brother in Christ.
Thank You for Bob's voice: his amazing singing voice, and his incredible speaking voice. Thank You for his ability to command attention with his voice, and for his willingness to use his voice for Your glory: whether in song, conversation, or instruction.
Thank You for all the ways in which Bob tried to prepare us for this moment: for the open dialogues and open doors. Thank You that we know--beyond a shadow of doubt--where he is right this very moment! Thank You that we were able to see his faith in You even in the very darkest of times. Thank You for our grief because it reveals that he was here, that he loved us, and that we loved him. Thank You for the hope we have, when we know You, of being reunited with Bob and all those who slip away from us and into heaven.
Thank You for giving us a true friend in Bob, and thank You that--in taking him away--You drew him to Yourself and to a much better place than this world with its pain and suffering. Thank You for not leaving Your children alone during this time but for looking down on us (and living inside us) with love. Thank You for truly understanding our heartbreak, and thank You for all of the ways in which You will continue to use our time with Bob to make us better soldiers of the cross.
In Your name I pray,
(written Wednesday, February 9, 2011)