A Tribute to Dr. Larry Crabb: From Waiting for Heaven to Fully Alive!

A Tribute to Dr. Larry Crabb: From Waiting for Heaven to Fully Alive!

Categories: AACC BLOG

A Tribute to Dr. Larry Crabb: From Waiting for Heaven to Fully Alive!

by Jim Cress, M.A.

Larry Crabb has been waiting to close on his earthly house, and move into his all new heavenly home for many years now.  On Sunday morning, February 28, 2021 Larry walked through the celestial door God had opened and his “faith was made sight”.

I once stood with Larry, as I had done many times in his home near Denver, Colorado. My wife, Jessica and I were contemplating a mystical looking painting on the wall in part of the Crabb house.   This painting featured a person in a boat, in a bit of a fog, navigating through some body of water. Larry walked up and asked us in his inimitable style , “So what do you see?”  Now when Larry Crabb asked you a question, the first thing you needed to do was to pause, think, and realize something deeper was about to happen.  Of course, in my off-the-cuff impulsivity I said, “I see a man in a boat at sea, probably lost in the fog, and maybe feeling alone and discouraged.” My wife commented about what she saw.  Then I asked Larry what he saw in the painting.  He looked like he was peering into another world, with deep longing and curiosity. Then, with a twinkle in his eye, Larry said, “Oh, I see the man in the boat, on his final journey through the mist of this life, on his way home to heaven.”  Mic drop. Full stop. Selah.

I know of no one who so authentically, passionately, and intimately longed for heaven and a face-to-face embrace and dance with the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit as Larry Crabb did.

Larry was a faithful husband, father, and grandfather. He was truly a pioneer in the field of Christian Counseling. He was a prolific author of many books. He was a dynamic speaker, psychologist and counselor, trainer of counselors, spiritual director, mentor, friend, and bible teacher. Oh, how Larry loved teaching the bible.

Larry loved really hot coffee. I sat with Larry many times in restaurants where he kindly asked the already-hot-coffee to be taken back to the kitchen, put in the microwave, and then basically nuked until it was near boiling!  Speaking of coffee, Larry loved having “conversations that matter” in coffee houses, rather than the “professional” atmosphere of a clinical counseling office.   Some of the most important words Larry ever spoke to me or others were when he was not looking you eye to eye. He would often look away, probably again into another world, and say something so deep, so rich, so lovingly piercing to your heart. Time and time again, I would be stopped in my soul, and wonder, “Where does he get this stuff from?” And each time, I felt seen, heard, known, and loved.

To know Larry Crabb, was to know a man who wrestled honestly and often in messy ways with his interior world, and the world around him. Larry truly lived congruently with the thoughts and words he wrote and taught to others. Larry was never a “Groundhog Day” movie guy.   He never knew what it meant to merely settle personally and professionally, and simply repeat the best of what he had written or taught before. Not because he couldn’t do that. His calling, passion, integrity, and vision would not tolerate a shampoo bottle philosophy of “Wash. Rinse. Repeat.” No way was Larry ever going to casually coast on cruise control through his earthly life, and sleepwalk into heaven.

And yes, Larry Crabb re-fathered so many of us. That may be his biggest impact left behind here on earth. We often may view God as a “Heavenly version of our earthly father.” If that’s true, then Larry you mirrored God the Father to us so incredibly well.

I saw up close and personal how Larry loved his precious wife, Rachael, his sons, Kep and Ken, daughters-in-love Kimmie and Leslie, and of course his grandchildren. This tribe was Larry’s true inner circle.

I have so many Larry Crabb quotes that I carry with me daily, and regularly share with those I counsel.  Some Larry spoke to crowds or quoted in his many books.  Others are life-changing words he spoke to me privately and intimately. Three of my favorite Larry Crabb quotes are ones he said to me personally.  One is written in his own handwriting in the front of my bible.  “Every moment of chaos is an opportunity to be a man.”  Another is, “That man has too many blessings to be deep.  And most helpful to me personally and practically,  “Embrace your inadequacy”.

Last night, on the eve of Larry Crabb changing addresses, my wife and I were stunned and stopped as we crested a hill here in Charlotte, NC, not far from where Larry rested with his family beside him.  Suddenly my wife exclaimed out loud, “Look!”  There was this glorious, breath-taking full moon, bright orange and lighting up the horizon and sky.  And before long, this nocturnal, majestic mirror of the sun disappeared behind the cloudy mist.  I thought once more of Larry, and the painting of the man in the boat.  Now that painting has become Larry’s most deeply desired reality.  I now comprehend in full what Larry saw in that painting so many years ago.  I know who that man is in the boat.  And of course, Larry went home to heaven on a Sunday morning. And yes, it was a foggy morning literally here in Charlotte today.  Now the fog has lifted, and that sacred vessel has docked safely, and Larry has stepped onto heaven’s shore.  I can only imagine who was standing there on the dock, jumping up and down for Larry.  The Trinity, Larry’s parents, his brother, Bill, and many more.   Larry had fulfilled the title of two of his books, “Waiting for Heaven” and now “Fully Alive!”

You see, like last night’s full moon, Larry too was a “mirror of the Son”. And I borrow the words from the Son of God, Jesus who Larry loved so much, and served so faithfully. I speak honor, blessing, and remembrance over my dear friend and mentor Larry Crabb.

In John 17:4, Jesus said, “I have glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work you gave me to do.”  “Tetelestai”in Koine Greek.  It is finished.  One more thing. This is not goodbye.  No, this is simply a sweet “Good night, Larry.  We’ll see you in the morning!”   Keep that heavenly latte hot!

Jim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist, and a Certified Daring Way Facilitator with Dr. Brene’ Brown’s The Daring Way Organization. For three years, he studied with and was trained by Dr. Patrick Carnes, the founder of the sex addiction field. Jim specializes in counseling those struggling with sex addiction, partners of sex addicts, marital counseling, trauma, abuse, and experiential group therapy. Jim is in private practice in Matthews, NC, and is a group leader for Onsite Workshops near Nashville, TN. He led sexual addiction workshops for Bethesda Workshops in Nashville for six years. Jim is also a national conference speaker with The American Association of Christian Counselors.  He leads regular weekly men’s therapy groups, and speaks at churches in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. As a 34 year veteran broadcaster and radio talk show host, Jim formerly hosted and cohosted the national call-in talk shows, “The Minirth-Meier Clinic”, “Turn It Around” with the American Association of Christian Counselors, and “Hope in the Night” with June Hunt.  Jim is currently the host of his own radio program called, “Conversations of Life”. Jim has been married to his wife Jessica since 1985, and has two adult sons,  an adult daughter, and daughter-in-law.  Jim and Jessica are also proud grandparents to Lincoln James.