Today is Memorial Day, typically a day reserved to remember our fallen soldiers. Countless men and women have laid their lives down for our country... I am glad that we have an official day that is set aside to remember them. This day is also a day that many use to remember loved ones that are no longer with us. In honor of Memorial Day, I would like to write something for Jason and Lindsay.
No other event in my life has had as powerful an effect on me as the deaths of Jason and Lindsay has. I never, in a million years, would have guessed that something like this would happen to anyone I know... much less a friend and his soon-to-be wife. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not an angry person... but a changed person. Jason and Lindsay lived their lives the right way... they lived for Christ and they worked for Christ! Their hearts were centered around Jesus... and the lives that they lived have challenged me to be a better person. My perspective on life has changed dramatically. I fully understand the fragility of life and that each day is a precious gift. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this again every once in a while... but I will NEVER forget the examples that Jason and Lindsay have been for me and the rest of the world. Today, I honor Jason and Lindsay for the work that they did for Christ while they were here... and I honor them for challenging the rest of us to do the same.
There are some channels on our television that only play music. I was listening to the Christian music channel the other day while doing some work around the house, and I heard a song that stopped me in my tracks. The lyrics to this song shook me to the core and I just fell apart. Some days I hear something or read something and it reminds me again of how desperate and helpless I felt the moment I found out that Jason and Lindsay had been murdered. There are so many things behind the emotions that pour out of me. The best word to describe it is bittersweet, because I think all at once of the tragedy itself, the incredible sorrow I feel for the families, the loss of these two remarkable people, but also how wonderful God has been throughout all of this. He has completely blown me away... He has used this to teach me more than I could have ever learned through any other circumstance. I guess sometimes it takes a tragedy to open our eyes. It takes something huge to make us realize that life is short and that each day is a gift. We need to take advantage of the time we have here in our earthly lives to make each day count. Sometimes I need to be reminded of this still... and when God does this through songs like this one, it brings me to my knees:
I know I’m broken
And even though I feel so lonely
Those are the perfect words for what has happened in the wake of this loss. God has carried us through. I see it especially in Jason's family... every time I see them and talk with them... I am so awestruck at how God has completely enveloped them and is carrying them through. God is their strength. God is my strength. Even in the seemingly simple things in life... God is our strength. We would not exist if it weren't for Him... and we would not have hope if we didn't have Him.
I saw a bumper sticker once that really rang true in my heart. It said, "No God, no peace. Know God, know peace!" So true... so true.
I did some research on the song above written by Mark Schultz. I was hoping to find information on why he wrote the song... what event or events that perhaps inspired him to write it. In the liner notes of the CD, Mark writes, "This song was not originally going to be on this record. It was meant for another project but I never forgot about it because I listened to it one night about a year ago over and over and over again when I had been so discouraged. I was holding on to it like a life raft in a storm in the middle of the ocean. This song is a clear picture of what God will do if you call out to Him."
I also found a short article online written by a woman who refers to this song. What she says really struck me too. This song is so powerful...
Have you walked through the valley of the shadow of death? David wrote about this place, and for many years I thought it was a place where a person faced his own death. But I think now that we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death when someone we love dies. We walk in the shadow of death. And in that shadow is where sorrow lives.
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:1-4 NASB).
When my father was dying, it was a long illness; with my mother it was a sudden unexpected heart attack. For my friend, a tragic house fire, and another, a plane that blazed through a glass tower. Regardless of the circumstances, the walk through the valley of the shadow of death was a difficult one, but one I did not have to make alone.
As I traversed those steps through that valley, I know that Jesus has made that trek before. And that He will walk it with me every time, even when it is my last walk.
If you are facing that walk today, or if you are in the midst of it, draw comfort from the God of all comfort. Know that He understands. He has walked that road with so many. He will not leave you there alone, and He will take you through it.
In the song "He Will Carry Me," Mark Schultz sings about the God who carried him. That same Savior will carry you. I remember those long, dark, tear-filled nights when it seemed there was no comfort for the loss I felt. But I was wrong.
There is comfort in the arms of our loving Jesus. Do what I have learned to do in that valley, open the Bible. Read, read the Psalms, read the Gospels, read until the words of the Lord infuse you with hope and strength and, yes, comfort. That is how He embraces you, with His Word. Open His Book in those dark hours, and let Him carry you.
Amen to that.
Remember your loved ones this day and always. Let God comfort you in your time of need. Let God strengthen you each and every day.
|"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."|