Jason's 38th Birthday!
Today is what would have been Jason's 38th birthday! Twelve birthdays now since he passed away. It just occurred to me that, within that many years, my entire childhood with him took place. Time is so fleeting! There are so many amazing memories from my childhood that I would give anything to re-live. Life was so simple and carefree! That is why it took me such a long time to remember those times without bursting into tears. I thought those memories would forever be tainted with horror... because there was no part of me that ever could have anticipated such an end to Jason's life. Sometimes it still seems very surreal. I sure wish it wasn't real. But God has been so gracious. He has brought beauty from the pain. He allowed it to happen but did NOT cause it. God is not the author of evil and death. He is the author of TRUTH and LIFE! I have seen the beautiful things God has done through Jason & Lindsay's story! This verse always comes to mind:
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)
There is so much suffering in this world and I know, because of it, many people doubt God's existence. And even if they believe He could be real, they don't believe He is GOOD. However, in my experience, just because evil exists does not mean that God is not real and not good! In fact, He is the light in the darkness! He is hope for the hopeless. Strength for the weary. God is far more loving than we could ever imagine! He is far more compassionate, far more generous, far more gracious, far more merciful, far more patient and far more holy than we will ever comprehend! He loves YOU. He knows YOU by name and He wants desperately for YOU to know Him! God sent His only son to DIE for you... in your place. Jesus willingly took your sin (and mine) upon Himself and took the punishment for it (death and hell). But in His power, He conquered the grave... conquered DEATH... and rose again! And because of that unimaginable grace and love, we can actually have a relationship with Him and we can literally spend eternity with Him! That would have been absolutely impossible if not for Jesus! He is the reason why we have not lost hope in the wake of Jason's cruel death. He is the reason why we can see beauty coming from the ashes. He is the reason why Jason's parents and sisters can actually forgive the person who stole their son's (and brother's) life. He is the reason why we can be assured that God is working in every corner of the world, even when we can't see it. He is working in people's lives in the most oppressed areas of the world and, whether you know it or not, He is working in your life and in the lives of people around you! God is VERY present and very concerned about what is going on in this world. He equips us to handle the things He calls us to do. Yes, there are people (even real Christians) who make mistakes and give Christianity a bad name, but please do not let people ruin Jesus for you! People are not ever the 100% true image of Christ because we are all still sinners! We all still struggle and we all still make mistakes. But God never makes mistakes! If you are breathing, it is because you have a purpose. If you want to know the amazing God who gave you life and loves you more than you could ever begin to imagine, all you have to do is seek Him with a sincere heart and you WILL find Him. And the result of that relationship will give you inner peace like you've never known possible! It's the peace that always reminds us that there is more to our existence than our time here. That our suffering is only temporary. That we can have hope and assurance for an eternity with Jesus after we die... and that heaven is only a breath away! Jason did not cease to exist when his life was cruelly taken. In that moment, his eternal life began. So what his killer meant for evil, God intended for good. Death does not win! Jesus conquered it for us... so eternal life wins!
In my meager attempt to explain Jesus (because He is SO much more than I could ever describe), I am reminded of this recording of Dr. S.M. Lockridge. Please listen to it... it is so powerful and well worth it! This Jesus he is describing is the same Jesus whom Jason, Lindsay and Caleb (Jason's baby nephew) are with at this very moment!
I don't know if Jason knows that today is his birthday. Because God is not limited by time or space, I imagine heaven is the same way. "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8) So whether or not Jason knows it, we are still celebrating his remarkable life today!
A note from Jason's parents:
Happy Birthday Jason!
This picture was taken in 1987, when you were 9 years old. Your birthday always occurred during the Tulip Festival here in Holland, Michigan. What a fun week that was! Tulip Time meant half day sessions in school, marching in the children's parade, carnival food, pictures in front of tulips and then..........a birthday party! Such good memories!
We delighted in those celebrations, but they are so small in comparison to what you are enjoying now in heaven. You are living the ultimate celebration, and someday we will be celebrating with you. Until then..........Happy Birthday!!!!!! We love you and miss you.
Dad and Mom