I don't completely recall how I first "met" Steve Hays. I think he e-mailed me sometime in the early 2000's in regard to something about John Calvin. What I remember about the e-mail is that the content was well-written and more complex than what I was able at the time to converse on. That sort of summarizes how I've viewed Steve's writing abilities over the years. It's not that everything he wrote was above my academic level, it's that his writing demonstrated to me over and over that he was a much deeper thinker than I am. Bluntly: he was more intelligent and verbally capable than most of us. When someone, friend or enemy, would lump me in with Steve, I felt embarrassed. It's like putting a toddler next to the starting quarterback on the high school football team.
To his cyber-opponents, watching them squirm at the end of his verbal sword,...well... I enjoyed that probably more than I should have! Yes, it was a guilty pleasure. Steve would show up on my blog from time to time. He typically was able to find the exact spot of weakness that a detractor was fixated on and take them apart. I don't ever recall Steve losing his cool, at least it never came across that way.
One thing I've discovered over the years is that the people I become friends with or gravitate towards are those who can make me laugh. Steve had a great sense of humor. His wit, in both his planned out written blog posts and his random comments appears to have flowed naturally. Easily, he could have made a living as a satirist!
Others have mentioned this already: as much as those of us in cyberspace "knew" Steve, I didn't know him at all. I also thought "Steve Hays" may have not been his real name! I never knew anything about him, how old he was, what his job was, if he had family... this never bothered me. Rather, I greatly appreciated that he wasn't a cyber-narcissist. I never recall him looking for any $$ or promoting himself. He easily could have used Triablogue to earn a living. What he did though was allow us to benefit from his insight for free. He gave to us freely.
As I grow older, death creeps closer and closer. My parents have died. Some of my brothers have died. Close friends have died. My pets have died. Each loss now, however minor, really hits hard. The older we get, the more the words of Lord's Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism grow larger and larger on the page. They pulsate: they hit that certain spot each of us has when we consider our lives and all the gifts of family and friends loaned to us from the Lord. It all slowly gets peeled away, until finally, the only real solid thing you have for your comfort, never leaving you, is the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm not sure many of us would ever learn this truth if it were not for being "peeled."
I find it embarrassing in my own spiritual growth that often it's only by loss, even the loss of a blogger I've never met in-person, that I really take the time to consider the brevity of life and the eternal promises of God fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus Christ. This side of eternity, I will miss Steve. I'm grateful to God to have given him to us for this brief time.