We mourn with his wife Maria who treated our children like she was their very own (and very young) grandmother and who taught me that the Spanish language was Anglican friendly and a real way to spread the Gospel message. We have already watched as she has allowed the Lord to hold her through great personal struggle and challenge and loss. She has been a role model without wanting to be one and she has kept pointing to Jesus throughout the storm.
We mourn with his daughters who have lost a real daddy. They are two women who grew up in that tiny town with parents who knew the world but loved the mountain. They are two women who brought great joy to their daddy’s heart and eyes whenever I heard him talk about them.
Years ago, when Lisa and I were in mourning after the miscarriage of a child, the Lytles cared for us in a way that I can only describe as Christ-like. Guy let me go on and on in a pained rant never judging, understanding that my anger and struggle were grief driven. So far away from family, they were family and they understood.
Today, the church will lay to rest a man who, even when he was injured and broken, fought the good fight and who understood the Gospel in a way that few today do: Hope for those of us who can’t quite match Jesus’ call to be perfect as His Father in heaven is perfect. For it was this very clear understanding of our brokenness that led Dean Lytle to show me and my friends at the seminary that God did not call perfect people but instead He prepares normal, imperfect people for the ministry of the Gospel. The dean taught us to be less confident in our own gifts and more in Jesus’. Dean Lytle was the person who started me down that path to Christian self awareness. For in 2002, I had little idea that I needed a savior in Jesus Christ and I had no idea that I wasn’t perfect.
In the late Summer of 2002 I signed my name in a large book as I matriculated at The School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee TN. The Rev. Guy Fitch Lytle III at my side. I was scared to death, he knew better. My dean. Our friend. Although we haven’t seen the Lytles very often since seminary, they are seared into a three year family memory. They are family to us as they are family to hundreds of other former seminarians across the country and into the rest of the world. We have lost a father and brother and amazingly for many of us, a colleague.
So today we worship the Lord and mourn with Maria and their daughters as the memorial service comes and goes. God bless the Lytle women. God receive Guy to your bosom. Thanks be to God for a merciful savior in Jesus Christ who is advocate and mediator and the lover of souls.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills; from whence cometh my help?
My help cometh even from the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1,2