|August 9, 2014|
I went to a memorial yesterday, the first in a good 10+ years. This particular one was for a friend of mine. Our last talk was a joking banter about learning to play the Banjo. It's strange the things that come to your mind sometimes.
He was only 23 and the whole service was dedicated to talking about his faith, his smile, the way he strove for excellence, and the role relationships played in his life. I've only known him for a few years. Seeing pictures from his childhood and then seeing and hearing the grief firsthand of a family who never got to say goodbye and who will live the rest of their lives missing him made it all more final than it was before.
They played his voicemail greeting and a clip of him reading Scripture and songs that he sang. Hearing his voice fill the sanctuary one last time was surreal. We all sat looking at the screen, hearing his voice, and we let the tears flow. My tears were for his family and the people who knew him far longer and better than I ever did. For his mom and for his younger brother and sister. My tears were a reflection of the grief I've been carrying with me as my own family seems to be in a state of disintegration.
I know the posts around here have been heavy for quite some time. I know a lot of them have been vague. I've always said my hope for this space is that you will find something here that will brighten your day, encourage your soul, and give you a reason to praise God. That's still my hope. That's been my hope as I've written posts about all sorts of things and covered topics I'd rather not have addressed.
As I sat with a sanctuary full of people reflecting on the life of one faithful brother in Christ whose life ended far sooner than any of us expected in a way that still seems so impossible, I did what everyone else was doing...I began to ponder the impact his life and death will have. I thought back on what it was like to know him and remembered the fun times we had and laughed over my first impression of him all over again.
Death is a fact of life. One of my friends keeps saying, "what's done is done." That's all he has to say about the whole thing. For Christians, death is different. We have a hope in Christ that in our living and in our dying we will glorify God. And yet, we're never quite ready to say goodbye.
What's done is done. He was born. He lived. He finished out his course here. The rest of us have courses of our own to finish. We'll carry his memory and his example and the same hope that was in him with us. It will sting for a while, especially when we look into eyes that are missing him most.
We don't know what our courses will hold. We don't know how long they'll last. We'll make mistakes. We'll be so happy we'll cry and we'll face times of sadness that runs so deep the tears won't come. The hope we have will spur us on. The Helper granted to us will be there reminding us of the promises of God that are shaping our course.
I've been making a royal mess of my course lately. Saying I'm sorry won't make it better. I can't will people to care and the fact that I feel like I have to makes me feel even more rotten than being tempted to believe that they don't. One thing I know is that the object of my course is to be made more like Christ. That's the glory of God in us. We can make it confusing and difficult as we struggle between who we were and who we are in Him.
Song after song talk about how we're on our way to heaven and only passing through life on this earth. It's never been a secret that I'm more excited about what's next than any next this earth holds for me. It's because that next is certain, but you know what...The nexts here are too.
Every next brings us closer to the God who calls us His own. They may be difficult. They may be a new version of an old struggle that nearly knocked us off our feet the last time around. They may be sweet. They may be our hopes and dreams realized in a way that truly is far better than we ever imagined. Our certainty comes from Him.
He designs our courses for His glory and for our good so that when what's done is done, we'll be able to join Him in being convinced of that.
May our hope in Him be strengthened by His grace. May right spirits be renewed in us by the testimony of His Word. May we live as those whose purpose is defined by God Himself. They are, you know.
Our courses may be ours to finish, but they come from Him.