Monday, September 29, 2008

In Memory

The lord gives and he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

After multiple red eye plane trips and airport connections, I'm back home from the memorial and celebration of my Step-brother Kyle. I had all day Saturday with family to reflect, pray, cry, hug, and laugh. I am so glad I had that time. (His obituary can be read here.) Although tragedy brought us together, God's goodness and grace came out in so many ways. Remembering, eating together, playing games, praying, reconnecting with family, meeting new friends, and reflecting on Kyle's life (as well as the meaning of our own) was a bittersweet time.

My brother Chris (who just two weeks earlier was married) and I landed at DFW airport and quickly rented a car to drive about 75 miles outside of Dallas to the memorial service. It was amazing with over 500 people showing up to remember, sing, watch pictures of Kyle's life, and most importantly to hear and respond to the Gospel spoken through the various pastors and people who knew Kyle.

Some of Kyle's prized possessions like football jerseys, car parts, and size 16 shoes were on display. Kyle loved hunting and all types of animals, especially dogs. He was known for singing that song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," especially in the shower.

Since Kyle was a deputy he had about 30 uniformed service men and women who came in his honor. This was quite a sight.

I am grateful for the Church family of CLC. Lead Pastor Barry spoke God's truth and brought words of comfort and challenge at the burial. They also had a 21 gun salute graveside. Both my Step-dad and Kyle's mom received a folded flag in his honor.

The little town in Texas had an outpouring of support and encouraging words. Pray for Kyle's friends and my family (consisting of mom, step-dad, step-sister, and five other siblings from age 12-18) as they process. May God's power and peace be strong to satisfy and comfort them. May their lives be more committed to knowing God and living in his ways as they process their own life as a result of this experience.

I myself was so saddened at Kyle's loss and seeing everyone else suffering in the pain of his absence, that it caused me deep reflection on my own life.
Here are thoughts that set up camp in my mind:
Death reminds us of the shortness of life. We are reminded of the invitation God has given us to center our life on Him and prioritize his kingdom, family, forgiveness, and living in a way that brings honor to him every day and not put off obeying and following Him.

Death is painful and confusing. Words are good but sometimes not enough or the best response in times of grief. Sometimes we just need to be quiet and pray or cry, and other times we just need to be silent and hold each other. God is close to the broken hearted and he rescues those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

We must do life together not alone. (BTW thanks to all who have prayed, texted, emailed me, etc.) People responded generously, quickly, and in abundance. I was proud of the Church who came out and served in so many ways providing food, prayer, and presence. When the Church truly serves it touches so many lives. There were numerous people who saw God through words spoken, music, prayer and the overall sense that life doesn't end with death for those who know and trust God through Jesus Christ. (I personally had some really great conversations and witnessed people who seemed open and hungry for God. I was touched). Very importantly, we must remember the pain doesn't end quickly and grief lasts for a long time. The need for love, togetherness, prayer and support will extend for quite some time.

Kyle's death reminded me that I want to love my family well and be in good relationship with each other. I want to live forgiven and reconciled and hold no grudges. And finally, I want help others be prepared for their going home and standing before our lord (and be prepared myself)! Because with God's love, following Jesus, and living in the Spirit, death cannot conquer us, but we are victorious through it.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"[ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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