Some recent events have caused me to think upon and remember some great truths, some great promises and the love we have (or should have) for each other. It may seem strange to some but these thoughts have been stirred up from depths of my heart by, of all things, a hard rocking alternative Christian band; Skillet. Those who have the enviable pleasure of knowing me also know that Skillet is by far my favorite band - and I listen to every album they have released to date every day. I’m not kidding either – every album, every day. My iTunes library will attest this fact. Maybe it’s the name, the face melting guitar rifts, or the true beauty of many of their songs – I don’t know for sure but something connected with me that fateful day back in 1996 when, at the ACU Campus Store, I gazed upon the music rack and saw for the first time, a CD with a skillet emblazoned across its cover and a band named after a cooking utensil. I was hooked, they had me – and my wife thanks them every day for snagging me.
But today, as I faithfully listen, something came to mind. The song was Will You Be There (Falling Down) and the first few words are:
As I fall to sleep
Will you comfort me
When my heart is weak
Will you rescue me
Will you be there
As I grow cold
Will you be there when I'm falling down
Will you be there
Those words I’ve heard and sung hundreds of times over the years – but this time they reached into me, grabbed hold and shook me, bringing to my mind the recent death of a friend and brother.
He was a good man who loved his God, his wife, his daughter, his granddaughter, his family and all his friends. He had turned his life around, giving himself in submission to baptism to become a child of God and recently had been selected to serve as a deacon in our congregation. About four months ago we played softball in the local church league. About three months ago he found out he had cancer. Almost three weeks ago he fell asleep and almost two weeks ago we remembered his life.
A few days before he died, in Bible class Sunday morning, we asked his wife how he was doing. He wasn’t doing well at all and hadn’t eaten in three days. She was trying to be strong and provide for the man who had provided for her for so long. And through the words we could all feel the depths of sorrow and pain that she suffered. That day I was selected to pray on her behalf. An honor for me to say the least and one of the hardest, most painful prayers I have ever offered to my Lord. I asked for strength, for mercy, for love and above all – healing.
Knowing our God is the Great Physician with the power to restore his body and heal our pain, I pleaded with God, begging Him to give our brother back to us. This is what we want were the words I spoke, acknowledging our own personal desire. Then I asked for strength and understanding whatever the outcome may be, knowing that in all things Gods will is done, knowing that God understands our pain – He gave His Son – and in the end God shall wipe away all tears, there’s no death, no pain, nor fears. Three days later about 7 am, he left this life.
The song simply asks God will You be there. The answer is a deafening, unequivocal and resounding YES! God will be there, He is always there. And He did answer my prayer. He took the pain away, and He is healing us, every day. We miss our friend and brother, husband and father, but we know there is no more pain, and we know that God is there and will always be there. And I praise my God for again teaching me how great and awesome He is.
As I write this another song has played and ‘stirred the pot’ you might say. The song is titled Rebirthing. Here is the chorus:
I wanna live for love, wanna live for you and me
Breathe for the first time now
I come alive somehow
I wanna live my life, wanna give you everything
Breathe for the first time now
I come alive somehow
My friend was a Christian. He lived for the Lord and died in the Lord. He had been and has been reborn. Through the terrible pain of his cancer he has now been reborn, where there is no pain. In my mind this has now been compared to birth. As you know Syndi is pregnant with our fourth child, due about October 7th. As I remember the births of our first three children I can’t help but draw a connection. Through the terrible pain of childbirth a new life is born. I don’t know what it was exactly but something connected with me on those beautiful days when, at the hospital, I gazed upon an infant and saw for the first time, a life with me emblazoned across its face and a child bearing my name. This child is my flesh and blood, having been woven together by God and now placed in my care. I was hooked, they had me – and I thank God every day for snagging me.
From pain, came life. God has taken our sin away and allows us to be reborn and become His children, but this could only happen through the pain and suffering and death of His Son becoming the ultimate perfect sacrifice. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ we are born again, reborn, to be children of God – emblazoned with the blood of His Son.
These events also brought to mind something that happened awhile ago. Syndi wrote about it at the time but it has now come back to teach me. Really it isn’t about the specific event per say, but more about the pain that was endured, can and will be endured, and the ability I have to do nothing about it. I can’t take it away, and I can only try to prevent it. In the end all I can do – is be there.
At the time it happened – Ema had two teeth pulled without the full benefit of anesthetics – I could do nothing but hold her and try to comfort her, when what I wanted to do was take the pain upon myself (and gleefully shove it down the dentists’ throat). But I also knew that I can’t do that, every parent wants to but we can’t. We don’t like it but pain makes us grow, makes us stronger and better able to deal with life. And so we sat, in tears, and I held my beautiful daughter. The following day I couldn’t help but write…
Within my heart was kindled;
So must be writ, the impassioning within.
- Stained with Tears -
And stained . . .
. . . I am.
The tears have come;
And falling hard upon my chest,
they beat . . .
. . . with longing cries.
And cradled in my arms, So tight . . .
. . . but why? Why?
I’m here my child,
Held in my arms,
My love to heal.
You are my child,
For all and ever and aught we bear;
the life, the joy, the pain we share.
And this, my child, to you I swear
I give my love, my all
For you my child, I give my life.
and I – now stained . . .
. . . my tears
. . . my blood.
Something within me drew a connection to the pain I felt through the pain my daughter felt to the pain my Lord and my God felt in knowing we were lost, sinful, dead, yet He gave His Son to suffer the pain of death – withholding His own hand, knowing He couldn’t take the pain the away – so we could be reborn through the blood of His Son. Again I praise my God for teaching me how great and awesome He is.
One last thought. The day before my friend passed away his wife said something I will never forget and hopefully will live and demonstrate on a daily basis. In speaking of her husband and the effects that cancer and morphine had upon him she pleaded with us not to take for granted our spouses and the time we have with them. Three days later she lost her husband. But she knows the love they had and wonderful marriage they shared.
It is my prayer that I have not, and nor do I ever take my wife for granted. Our marriage is truly wonderful. She is my best friend, my confidant, my life, my love, my very self. She is my everything; my angel; my immortal beloved and I love her so deeply, so fully, so powerfully – my soul aches, longing to be near her. From the beginning my love has grown and will only continue to grow.
I will love you, you and no other, my whole life.