Goodbye, Friend

“Wo ist das?”

That German phrase has been the source of many laughs for my friend David Jurney and me over the years.

In English it means, “Where is that?,” which shouldn’t be hard to remember, but for me it was.

When we were in college, Dave and I, along with a host of other students at Oklahoma Christian University, spent a semester in Vienna, Austria as part of an international studies abroad program. This program was a mix of study and travel, and it provided us with some incredible moments and memories.

Some of my favorite memories of that time involved Dave.

He and I traveled together to Cannes and Nice and Monte Carlo, taking in all the sights of the French Riviera and its vicinity.

We also explored parts of Vienna together, including a trip to the University of Vienna (Universitat Wien).

As part of our study abroad program, we were required to take German and encouraged to practice it when we were out and about.

Well, here was our chance.

We were looking for the library at the university and recognized the German word for “library” on a campus directory. But that’s about the only word we recognized.

Fortunately, a group of people were coming our way, so I confidently told Dave that I would handle this.

As the group approached, I stepped out in front of them and politely asked, in German, “Wo ist…?”

But for some reason, I couldn’t remember, “…das?”

As I was struggling to get this simple phrase right while pointing at the directory, one of the men in the group spoke up and, in perfect English, said…

“You’re looking for the library, huh?”

I laughed (as did everyone else), turned red with embarrassment, and said, “Yes, can you tell us where it is please?”

He did.

And we found it.

But we didn’t stay long because Dave couldn’t wait to get back to our college group and tell everyone about my embarrassing attempt to communicate in German.

He got such a good laugh out of that.

And I did too.

A few weeks ago, Dave and I had lunch together and caught up on each other’s lives, careers, and families.

And, of course, Dave brought up the story.

“Hey, Rusty, do you remember when…”

And we laughed all over again.


Today, I received the devastating news that Dave had died.

And I’m still in shock.

My heart aches deeply for his wife.

His two daughters.

His parents.

His sister.

His students.

His friends.

And me.

My heart aches deeply too.

In his absence, many of us will be asking, “Wo ist das?”

“Where is that?”

Where is that comfort for our heartache?

Where is that healing for our broken spirits?

Where is that peace for our sorrow?

Where is that answer to our question of “why?”

Where is that remedy for our grief?

Wo ist das?

And I can see Dave pointing us to Christ.

Because that’s what he always did – point people to Christ.

In fact, I first met Dave at a church camp where, as high schoolers, we were junior counselors to groups of middle school students.

We clicked instantly and were friends ever since that day.

Our friendship began with our desire to tell others about Jesus.

And in our last conversation with one another, we were telling each other about Jesus.

Goodbye, my friend.

Be in the presence of Jesus.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye, Friend

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