Bryan S. Stroh
March 17, 1956 – June 12, 2018
This is my father-in-law, Bryan. If the image of him chatting on a cell phone atop his horse brings a smile to your face, then you share in just one of the many fond memories we have of him.
To try to convey the kind of man Bryan was seems like an insurmountable task. Words aren’t adequate to describe men of his caliber. Sure he had his quirks like most of the Stroh men, with their “joyful pessimism” and shall we say, struggles with communication.
But those human flaws paled in comparison to Bryan’s better qualities.
His gentle, personable nature, naturally drew people to him. I first experienced it as a high school girl when I began singing with him on our church’s worship team. Bryan loved music and led our team with humble, yet passionate devotion. He strove to make Christ first in every instance, and never hesitated to come alongside us to encourage us in our parts. Little did I know then that I would continue singing with him for years to come, not only as a friend, but as his daughter-in-law. A privilege I can’t even begin to describe.
I remember my time working with Bryan on the worship team during the early years after my husband and I came back to live on the family ranch. Bryan often came to our group with a child-like excitement when he discovered a new praise song he wanted to share for an upcoming worship set. He’d have us gather around to listen, and the sensation was so palpable you could feel how anxious he was for us to experience the same movement of the Holy Spirit when he played the song.
We did every time.
Though it was never Bryan’s intention to step on the toes of others, he wasn’t the kind of man to balk at sharing his mind. It brings a smile to my face to recall the countless times we sat around the dining table, listening to Bryan engaged in a deep discussion. When he was adamant about something, he’d lean into the table, talking in his confident, yet easy-going western drawl, with just a hint of gravel on the edge. The pace of his words quickened as he honed in on the point of the subject, then the jut of his jaw marked a dramatic pause as he stared at the person with whom he spoke, eyes widened for affect.
In the last days the cancer began to take Bryan’s voice.
For a man who loved to sing, we knew this was a hard blow. He struggled, but maintained a quiet strength and a sense of humor through it all. When Christ brought him home, we knew one of the first things he’d be able to do, is sing with that great heavenly host, his voice made new.
The day we buried his earthly body was rainy, and many wondered what the trek through the pastures would be like, ferrying people to the beautiful spot Bryan chose for the family plot. By God’s grace we all made it there. As we gathered round the casket to sing, “It is Well with My Soul”, the sun broke through the clouds and shown over us. A true God moment.
God works like that.
He offers glimpses of His glory. Those small assurances along the way of His enduring presence. Even in the darkest shadow, He’s still there, walking beside us.
And sometimes…carrying us.
The picture above was another glimpse I received. At the time of the burial, we didn’t have a marker for Bryan’s grave. But we had fencing posts. One of Bryan’s good friends suggested they construct a rugged cross out of them as a temporary marker. This was the result.
If I wasn’t so emotional I would’ve laughed. Bryan and my husband, being the typical ranchers, were always throwing together makeshift fixes for things on the ranch. In my mind, it was yet another perfect tribute to Bryan’s legacy.
It inspired us enough that one of the future ranch projects will be to construct a larger cross on the hill…a permanent marker to be seen from a distance, testifying to the One Bryan strove daily to set his eyes upon. He led by example.
We’ll strive to do the same.
In ancient Ireland, it was the task of bards to immortalize the works of kings and heroes by telling the stories of their exploits. Bryan was no king. But he served the King of Kings. Bryan wouldn’t have counted himself a hero either. But I’m here to testify he was a hero to more than he knew.
We look forward to seeing him again.
We have that hope. You can too if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. If you don’t, then I urge you to read these passages, and put your faith in the only One who saves.
John 6:35-40; John 5:24; John 3:16-18; John 14:6; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-10