Yesterday Cathy and Megan returned from a memorial service in Virginia where homeschool champion, Chris Klicka, was honored. I never want to forget this hero of mine. On this post, I summarize reflections from his memorial service, that I might not forget, and in not forgetting, live better.
For a brief summary of his life and some of the words of others, see:
This statement appeared in the memorial service program: “Christopher J. Klicka was born on Resurrection Day, April 2, 1961 and died on Columbus Day, October 12, 2009. By earthly standards Chris (being a slightly premature baby) arrived early and departed early – at age forty-eight. Not limited by earthly standards, however, Chris packed more into life in those forty-eight years than many do into ninety, and is recognized as one of the foremost leaders of the homeschool movement. Chris completed his undergraduate studies at Grove City College, PA, where he met his wife, Tracy. Upon graduation from Grove City College, Chris attended O.W. Coburn School of Law, Tulsa, OK, from which he received is Juris Doctorate. Chris was then welcomed as the first full-time employee and attorney of Home School Legal Defense Association, and soon became HSLDA’s first executive director and later its senior counsel. During the twenty-four years of his employment with HSLDA Chris served tens of thousands of homeschooling families both directly and indirectly as a legal advocate, conference speaker, author, lobbyist, and loving husband and father.”
I wrote the following on my Facebook the day I learned of his death: “This morning, the greatest man I ever had a personal relationship with died. Chris Klicka was a tireless advocate for homeschooling over his exceptional legal career and a great example of a man who loved God, his family, the church. I hope I never forget Chris’ extraordinary example, knowing him over his 15 year struggle with multiple sclerosis, and how he never let it defeat him or make him bitter but just kept on working. I am glad his struggle is over but mourning over the permanence of the loss in this life.”
I went to Virginia not due to any special relationship with him but to honor Christ via honoring his man, who honored Christ via his life of passion and persistence for Christ and His Kingdom. As we heard at the memorial service, Chris favorite verse was Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I also went for myself. Chris is a hero of mine and I wanted to hear that more fully so that I might not soon forget him. Chris contributed much to the work of Christ’s kingdom. He also suffered much, yet never gave in. I need to never lose heart in doing good. And when I am tempted to give in, I want to remember his determination and tenacity and faith and love. I want to remember his great accomplishments and yet he his time for family and friends and to enjoy life.
A reading of Chris’ life verse: Matthew 6:19-33, esp. verse 33:
Matt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
A favorite quote from C.S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you get nothing.”
From Gregg Harris – What distinguishes Chris? His passion. Gregg told of a time when Chris was a young, nervous attorney and the two of them spoke at a Wisconsin state home school convention. Gregg shared the passage of Job 29:2-17 with Chris and how Chris had expressed a passionate desire to live out that passage, especially v. 17 (Job 29:16 “I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth”). Chris said, “I want to be like that guy!”, and he truly did become that, a person who would break the fangs of those who sought to attack the freedom of parents to educate their children at home.
Gregg also shared of Chris’ struggle with M.S. and Chris’ clinging to God’s promise to provide strength in that struggle and to show His power through it. Chris lived out what Paul spoke of in the following passage:
2 Cor 12:7 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”.
From Michael Smith, President of HSLDA – Chris’ life was exemplified by:
- His determination (he must have been a strong-willed child; yet he channeled his determination for good).
- He was a tremendous lawyer.
- He was interested in every person he met.
- He was fearless due to his faith. He fell over 400 times, some times causing serious injuries, and yet kept on getting up and serving.
There is no replacement for Chris. He will be missed. He is leaving a huge hole.
But he also leaves a great legacy for us to see and follow. We can live like him in that we too can be all that we were met to be.
From Joshua Harris
- Chris sought to protect God’s people.
- Chris’ favorite verse was from Matt 6 (see above). He passed away a wealthy man in all that truly mattered.
A scripture reading from Rick Boyer
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Chris’ family shared as well. I was impressed by not only their words but their composure. They spoke of:
- his enthusiasm for life, his infectious joy,
- his love of the word of God, and of the encouragement and confidence, it gave in his later life
- his deep love of people.
His daughter Megan read from Philippians 3:7-14
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
She also shared of his hero, Eric Little, who said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Megan closed by stating, “Daddy felt God’s pleasure.”
His oldest daughter Bethany shared from Hebrews 12:1-2
Heb 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
She said that Chris ran not to finish the race but to win. She (and I) is convinced that when Chris went to heaven, the witnesses were giving him a standing ovation.
My closing thoughts
Bethany did not read it, but I cannot help but add verse 3 of the passage above:
Hebrews 12:3 “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
We need to consider that likes of Chris, so that we may not grow weary in doing good.
Chris wore himself out, to hear the words, “Well Done, good and faithful servant. Enter in the joy of your master.” He has now entered into that joy.