The world lost a spiritual giant this week.

And I lost a friend of about 30 years.

Tim LaHaye is known as the bestselling author of the “Left Behind” series, but he was so much more than that – pastor, author of more than 60 books, Bible expositor, founder of a Christian school system, one of the founders of the Moral Majority and the Council for National Policy and the husband of Beverly LaHaye, the founder of Concerned Women of America.

He died Monday morning at 90.

Tim LaHaye was a sweet, sweet soul who cared deeply about others. He was a mentor to me.

Here’s one of my favorite personal recollections.

In a former life, I made a living collaborating on books with others – including people like Rush Limbaugh, Hal Lindsey, Greg Laurie and many others.

Tim and I had discussed doing book projects together, but we never did.

One day in 1994, I believe, I called Tim with an idea for a project that had been in the back of my mind of more than 15 years. I had discussed it with other partners over the years, but it just kept getting put off in favor of other book projects.

The idea was a book called “Left Behind.”

Related story: “Tim LaHaye, ‘Left Behind’ author, dies at 90”

As I was explaining it to him on the phone, he interjected, “Joseph, you’re not going to believe this, but I just signed a collaboration agreement and a publishing contract for that very title.”

The rest is history, as they say.

The book and its many sequels went on to sell tens of millions of copies and remain on the New York Times bestsellers list for over 300 weeks.

I had waited too long to make the call.

But Tim remained a trusted friend and confidante, a wise counselor. I looked forward always to seeing his smiling and optimistic face whenever we had the chance to get together.

He had so much energy and vitality right through his 90th year.

His love for his wife, Beverly, and his family was supreme.

He was a blessed servant of His Lord Jesus.

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There are few people I know who were as positive as Tim – just consistently positive. If you were in a dark place, he would provide the light. I’m convinced it was a reflection of Jesus. If you were down in the dumps, a few minutes with Tim LaHaye would pull you right out of your funk.

Tim was the son of a Detroit autoworker. His father Frank LaHaye died of a heart attack when Tim was 9. The story goes that Tim was inconsolable – until he heard the pastor’s eulogy.

“This is not the end of Frank LaHaye,” he recalled the minister saying. “Because he accepted Jesus, the day will come when the Lord will shout from heaven and descend, and the dead in Christ will rise first and then we’ll be caught up together to meet him in the air.”

“All of a sudden, there was hope in my heart I’d see my father again,” said Tim.

He carried that hope the rest of his life. He was like a beacon of hope.

Beverly and he were seemingly inseparable for 69 years of marriage – even though they were both so active and such distinguished leaders in their own right.

He posted this poignant message on his Facebook page recently. It’s reminiscent of statements I’ve heard him make dozens of times over the years: “69 years ago today I married the love of my life, Beverly LaHaye. She has been my faithful partner in marriage, parenthood, ministry, and many things we never dreamed. We are still in love today! God has been faithful to us and we continue to claim as our life verse, Proverbs 3:5 & 6, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.'”

I know that Tim is absent from his body today, meaning he is with the Lord. That’s reassuring.

But today I feel like I’ve been left behind.

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