Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On life and loss

It started over Spring break of '97, my senior year of high school. A group of us from our youth group, Powerhouse, had gone to innercity Philadelphia to work with a little church and some of the teens there over our break. I still remember it so clearly, we had been hanging out one evening--playing cards, I think--when Pastor Rob came and told us the news. Some of our classmates had been in a car accident and two of the passengers had died. One of them was a girl I didn't know as well, who had only gone to school with us for a short time and then moved away, but the other was a girl I had known since elementary school. She and I had gone trick-or-treating together in 6th grade, we had danced together in middle school, and passed notes in Mr. Swinehart's world history class in 10th grade. She had plans for college and the rest of her life, but that wasn't what God had planned. That day rocked my world. I still remember sitting and crying with Clint, Justin, Nijay, Shannon and well...everyone that knew her and was with us. It was the first time I had really considered that anyone my age could die or that I could die. It was the first time I thought that each day could be my last. However, like going on a mission trip to a 3rd world country, it really shakes you up for a while and then somehow you slip back into the old routines and habits and start forgetting about those decisions to live differently. Seasons came and went, I came and went...graduated, went to college, went on missions trips, got married, went on more missions trips, taught elementary school, bought a house, had a kid, yada yada yada... Nearly two years ago, my younger brother, Joe, had decided to go to Grace College, my alma mater. I was thrilled--Pete and I LOVE Grace and have such great college memories. He left for school in August--just before Jon turned one. Five weeks later, he was returning home for his girlfriend, Logan's birthday and highschool homecoming. He was killed in a car accident. If you've never lost a loved one unexpectedly, I'm not sure even how to begin to explain to pain that is involved. I do know that I could not have made it through without my Savior and my God who comforts in ways that no one else can. Sometimes it's too hard to even talk about it because I miss him so much. Other times, I just want to talk about him with everyone so that no one will forget him. Grief is really complicated and confusing. But I believe that God doesn't waste anything...He has used Joe's death in mighty ways and will continue to do so. Even now, I find opportunities to encourage others as a result of what I've been through. On Friday, Kelsey Orndorff, a student from Fredericksburg Christian School, where I used to teach and the school Joe graduated from, was killed in a car accident. I didn't really know her, but many of my former students did and I know that their world has been changed forever by her death. I have been praying for Kelsey's family and friends constantly. I'm praying that in their grief they will turn to the only source of hope and peace--Jesus Christ. I'm praying that they will allow this to strengthen their faith and renew their committment to Him. Take this opportunity to examine their own lives, realize that the days are short...we don't know what His plan is for us but we can make every effort to honor Him in the words we speak to one another and in our actions and even in our thoughts. I'm praying for them and re-examining my own life as well. The time is short... "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. " Romans 12:1-2

No comments: