Today’s post is raw and messy and poured out of a heart that is both deeply saddened by loss this week and yet rejoices in the testimony of the faithfulness of our God who holds our dear friends tight in His grip.
God has blessed our family to journey through some of the biggest laughs and the hardest cries with this family. For those who are not local, that precious young brother in the black T-shirt on the right went home to be with Jesus this week.
He did not fear death and did not love his own life. The trust he had put in Jesus as a boy carried him through and he cheated death. I boast in the LORD when I say…that while his family and friends grieve, we do not grieve without hope.
There is a peace that passes understanding and I hope and pray every eye that reads these words knows this or will know it soon.
I wrote this yesterday and I am apologizing up front for typos and literary quality.
My heart wrote it…
As a high schooler back in the early 70’s, my youth group leader was a man named Steele Harmon.
He was every bit as cool as his name. The football coach at the private, picturesque college nestled near the heart of our small town; he was outgoing and crazy for Jesus in a charming way that was pretty much irresistible and impacting on us kids.
He took us out to Lay Witness Mission events and let us lead worship around his living room, he would haul us out in the woods every fall in the wee hours of the morning to collect leaves, pine cones and sticks and then we would decorate the church and have what was called Youth Sunday.
His wife Lynn and two daughters were as shy as he was gregarious, but they trooped along with us to every thing. We loved them dearly.
He challenged us to learn about this Jesus we had given our lives to and he did it with humility and a heart that showed he loved us at a level that ranked right up there with his family and his Savior.
He modeled what it was to be a minister for Christ in whatever field God called you to.
And I will never forget the time he shared how you can guarantee never getting hurt in this world.
Remember we were teenagers and having our feelings hurt was a rite of passage we were quite familiar with.
Being one who runs about 100 on a scale of 1-10 for emotions, I was very interested in how I could avoid having my heart broken so I leaned forward and determined to listen and apply the knowledge he was about to dispense.
The secret he said, is to never let yourself really love people.
Just harden your heart and keep it closed off.
Don’t give anyone enough of a place that losing them or having them betray you or having to watch them suffer hurts you.
We sat there as we soaked in the tears that brimmed in those eyes we had come to trust and realized what he was saying.
We had a choice to make then and a choice to make every day.
To choose to love well knowing that would come always at a cost.
I have to say, in the 40 plus years since he spoke those words into me, I would never have imagined the pain of that cost or the struggle it has been at times to get up again and pick up what was left of my heart and ask God to piece it back together so I could continue to follow through on the commitment made.
I didn’t understand how many times I would have to battle against the temptation to just shut her down…to say…no more, thank you…I have loved enough…I’m going to sit this one out.
But I can still him shaking his head and saying…
You don’t want to get hurt? Just don’t love.
And I can still feel the cold icy grip of realizing what that kind of life would have robbed me of.
At many times when I have grieved or watched others grieve, the impact of this man’s words wash over me and I often whisper…to myself or anyone who needs to hear it…
This sorrow is the cost of loving well…the more we loved…the more we hurt…the more He heals.
May God comfort us all in our sorrows so that we will have the strength to continue to love as He loves. May He give us the courage we need to risk loving well, every time no matter the cost.