Sunday, 12 September 2010
Funeral of Professor Alan Ervine
The last few weeks have been a very sad time for my family due to the death after a short illness of my brother-in-law and friend Alan Ervine. I had known Alan for over 25 years(my wife much longer)and always appreciated his friendship. He was brought up in a Christian home and had once told me that he was named after the famous preacher Alan Redpath. During the funeral his brother Ian shared the story that in their bedroom they had a picture of a boy at his studying at his desk and underneath it was the verse:'Trust in the the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.This was to become an inspiration for their lifestyles as both choose to work hard at study as well as to develop a strong faith in God.Apart from UNiversity life Alan was very involved in both church and charity work. The last year saw him involved in water projects with Tear Fund were he offered his expertise and raised funds for various projects. At the end Alan suffered alot and on his final day had asked the Lord to take him him.During his final trial Alan was beset at times by doubts and fears though he never once lost his faith. Like Christ in the garden of Gethsemane he ultimately surrendered his will to God's.He was always able to confess like Job:'I know that my Redeemer lives'.At the bottom of this post you will find one of Alan's inspiring posts soon after he discovered he had cancer.
''Alan's funeral was held on Wednesday in the Chapel of Glasgow University, a truly beautiful setting on a wonderful sunny and warm day.
Alan's brother Ian spoke about their lives together as children in Ireland being brought up in a loving Christian family. His colleague Bill spoke about their friendship formed over many years of working together and supporting he same football team. Davy Robertson spoke eloquently on behalf of Alan's friends about what Alan was like as a friend, as a gentle, smiling person who enriched all our lives. David McCarthy told of Alan's great faith in God and how he was encouraged by Alan to be a better person and a better pastor. All of them mentioned Alan's ability to throw in the odd wee grenade to liven things up and make them more interesting. His brother, Clive, read from Revelation 21: 1-4, 22: 1-5.
His long and loving marriage to Liz and his love for and pride in his son were spoken about too.
We sang good old, well known and well loved hymns:- "Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder, Guide me O thou Great Jehovah and Thine be the glory"
The organist said later it was the best singing by a congregation he had ever heard.
The previous evening there had been a short service in St Silas where Alan's coffin was brought in to rest overnight. We prayed and had our own thoughts.
We all then proceeded to the cemetery where Alan was laid to rest in a lovely shaded spot.
The day went on from there. We joined Liz and Paul for lunch in a local restaurant and spent much of the afternoon chatting with friends, old and new.
It was a very good day for a very sad reason.
Alan is now with God. We are left to remember.
Tricia and Gordon Henderson
A post from Alan's blog 28th June
Is it possible to surrender your will to God?
May seem like a strange question coming from a Christian, but thought I would ask this today, and see where the discussion goes. All through the Bible and in Christian literature, we are encouraged to surrender every ounce of our being, our will, our personalities into his hand; it appears like a non-question. I have heard people speak in glowing terms how they have surrendered their lives and their will to God. Is this a case of self-deception? (As an aside, I came across a case of self- deception yesterday following the England debacle in the World Cup playing Germany. England had just been outclassed in every part of the field; and in fact looked more like an episode of the Keystone Cops. An interview with a few English players following the game painted a different picture of something more akin to an evenly balanced match that the Germans edged in the end. I wondered what game these players had witnessed- and reminded myself again of our great capacity towards self-deception)
My answer to the question posed in the title is yes, and I take my inspiration from Andrew Murray’s book, “Absolute Surrender”, first published in 1895 and recently up-dated in 1999.I will briefly share Murray’s argument with you for I believe “absolute surrender” has the potential to transform lives positively more than almost anything else. Murray’s basic premise is that God requires Christian followers to surrender their lives, lock, stock and barrel into his hands. This is a condition of God blessing you completely and fully and a condition for the Holy Spirit to flow through you as freely as He had intended. God expects your surrender, not in a half-hearted way as in my case, many or most Christians, for He cannot work effectively through half surrendered lives. A pen with two hands guiding it will never be able produce effective writing. Murray argues that we cannot achieve this degree of surrender on our own steam and can only reach such levels through the power of the Holy Spirit. I agree with this premise having tried on my own and failed and only making a little progress through being open to ask the Spirit for help. In other words, God accomplishes the surrender for you as long as you are willing to go through the process. I hope you will be blessed from exposure to his work and be encouraged to read it for yourself. Easy to get these old published works on Amazon- if you are so inclined.
I feel in some ways it may need a crisis or a period of discomfort or distress for us ever to get round to taking the question seriously. It shouldn’t do, but human nature being what it is, prefers sailing along in comfort and non-surrender and involved in projects, until an event or a happening intervenes that forces a re-think, a look at truly surrendering to God, and indeed a giant step towards life indeed