Eulogy for Justin Vanderburg by Eric Vanderburg
September 6, 2006
Justin’s passion played out as he made the most of each day. He did his best in both work and play. He enjoyed the law and discussions on the interpretation of it. Many times he and Dad would discuss an issue over dinner from work or school.
Justin and I skied in high school. I remember when he told me he wanted to snowboard instead of ski. I was sad because I thought this would separate us on the slopes, but he picked up snowboarding quickly and soon after we were riding the black diamonds together. He later became a snowboard instructor at the Brandywine Ski Resort and even gave me tips on how to improve my ski form on the slopes. Justin picked things up quickly like that.
Justin certainly had a passion for motorcycles in recent years, but when he was little he enjoyed riding his bicycle. Years ago, Justin and I each got small light bikes for doing tricks and jumps. In the woods nearby there was a full course of jumps I used to ride on. One jump was much larger than the others and there was a 10-foot pit in between the jump and the landing. That jump scared me but Justin eagerly approached it. He zipped through the woods and hit that jump at full speed. After barely landing the jump on his first try he told me he was eager to try it again and encouraged me to try it too. His encouragement and courage spurred me on many times to do things I never thought possible. He was always expanding his surroundings and that of those around him.
At Tablerock Lake in Missouri, there is a cliff that hangs over the water. We jump off this cliff every year. I think Justin was the first one to jump from the high ledge which can be quite scary even to the seasoned cliff-jumper. The top ledge, however, was not enough for him. He found an even higher area to jump from. He was not scared of the fall. Rather, he relished the experience just as he relished so many other things in life.
No matter how busy Justin was, he would take time out for others. I can’t begin to count the number of times Justin would drop what he was doing when I wanted to show him something. I remember him watching me play video games even when he was not interested in them or listen to a story about work when he had plenty of other things he could be doing. His genuine attention meant so much to me.
Justin was also creative and thoughtful. While Justin was still in High School, he designed and built a wooden speaker platform for the trunk of my car. He wanted to help make my car stylish with a loud sound system. Justin engineered a platform to house 3 large speakers and an equalizer set. After completing the carpentry and wiring, it looked great but unfortunately sounded bad. I learned a number of things about carpentry from him that day. It was a great time of working together as his vision saw us through to the end. Justin worked hard on that project and he was a great planner.
Justin was innovative at an even younger age. One time when we were both kids, Justin, along with a few neighbor kids and I, wanted to make some extra money. We decided to chop up an old rotting tree in my neighbor’s yard to sell as peat moss. We chopped away and loaded my product into my red wagon. Justin then did his best to try to sell the product. I laugh so hard when I think back to that time. He was so enthusiastic and sure of himself. We had so much fun.
Justin was full of solid Biblical advice. He gave me council on how to live right with God before pursuing relationships. I could bring anything to him and know that he would listen and give me an honest, well-thought answer. He made me think and he always wanted the best for me. He surrounded himself with Christian friends and immersed himself in the Word.
Justin was the first one off the cliff and the first one to hit the jumps. He was also the first one to win life’s race. Justin started serving the Lord at an early age. He ran hard and he finished early. He lived for the Lord and accomplished so much in the time he was given. For this, I am sure that the Lord welcomed him into heaven saying “my good and faithful servant”. In recent days I have heard from those he discipled who told me how he led them to the Lord or how he encouraged them in their faith. There is no better legacy he could live than that. The life he led was an open testimony to his faith and I are all witnesses to it.
In the last days at the hospital, I waited for the miracle I thought God was to work in Justin’s life. I now realize that I was living with the miracle for 24 years. I thank God for the time I had together and that Justin is now enjoying his reward in heaven. The miracle and the blessing lives on in all the lives he touched.