As you well know, my pen was (and is) my shovel of sorts. It helps me dig down to the depths, enabling me to unearth what’s truly going on beneath the surface. But this week, try as I might, I simply couldn’t find the words. All my thoughts and emotions have stayed jumbled up inside, and today more than any other day this week, they’re finally springing to the surface and spilling out and over in the form of tears. A constant running river of liquid emotion.
Shock. Hurt. Disbelief. Confusion. Deep sadness.
There are occasional smiles mixed in with the memories today, for which I am thankful. But your home going left such a huge, gaping hole in so many lives! I am so thankful God’s presence and peace is bigger still. I know it will all be okay. You are at home with our Lord and reunited with your dad. You are safe. You are healed. You are whole. You are alive…more alive than you ever were here on this earth. I can only imagine the joy you’re feeling at this very moment. I’ve tasted it.
In a dream I had a few years ago, I was walking. I was outside, making my way down a gravel path that wound up and around some slight hills, with tall grass swaying in the breeze. I was looking for someone. I finally spotted them off in the distance and realized they were talking to Jesus. He looked just like He’s portrayed in pictures-long brown hair, wearing a white robe with a purple sash. Inwardly I cringed when I realized He would be able to see through me and would know my every thought. But I literally couldn’t stop myself from being drawn towards Him. He didn’t speak to me when I approached. I wasn’t interrupting- simply standing in the background waiting for them to finish. He turned His head acknowledging my presence and smiled at me as He continued His conversation. As I walked closer, I was completely enveloped in pure, overwhelming, utterly complete JOY! It was truly indescribable. It literally took my breath away as every fear I had immediately melted in His presence. I continued to feel that same joy for a brief moment upon waking before it dissipated. You are now living in that reality.
At your service on Saturday, Scott mentioned that at another funeral he recently officiated there at Parkway, someone did the math using the verse out of 2 Peter 3:8 that says, “But do not forget this one thing dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” The man figured that his wife who had been gone from this life for about 25 years had only been in Heaven for the equivalence of about 30 seconds. Jay, you’ve been gone from here a week now. Around this time is when I was given the gut-wrenching news you were no longer with us. You’re still being embraced in the arms of Jesus welcoming you home. You’re not even aware of what and who all you left behind. The Bible says in Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Just as we look at the birth of a baby as precious and the doctors receive the baby entering this world with tenderness, I can just envision Jesus catching you as you slipped into eternity with the same loving care.
Now sitting in your office where the tears are streaming freely, fierce and hard. Gosh, I miss you, friend! I do not understand why He needed to take you away from us?! “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 Or as another translation reads, “so a friend sharpens a friend.” You were my flint rock! Your friendship was pure. It was sweet. It was genuine. You weren’t faultless, but you were pure. You loved. You encouraged. You lead. You served…well. All of it well.
If I had to choose the epitaph on your headstone, it would read, “The love of Christ compelled him.” 2 Corinthians 5:14 Jesus is very clear that love should be our highest goal (1 Corinthians 14:1), and that in the end nothing else matters except for love (1 Corinthians 13 & Galatians 5:6). I’m not idolizing you, Jay. I knew better. And even if I were, you were always quick to point any incoming praise straight back up to Jesus. You were such a humble man. Talented, transparent, authentic. So, I know better than to put you up on a pedestal and try to create you into a fairytale character without fault or blemish. You shared your heart with me. You confided some things. You openly shared your struggles, questions and concerns. Yet more than anything, we always talked about the love of God. His faithfulness. His promises. Walking by faith and not by sight. Fixing our eyes before us and going wherever it was God was calling us to go. You have changed me for the better because you loved like Jesus. No guilt. No strings attached. No obligation. No judgment. Just acceptance, kindness, gentleness, respect, love.
Love, love, love, love.
The searing, radical love of our Father burned brightly in and through you, leaving me permanently scarred. My heart is broken, but in the words of a song we both loved so much, “May the scars I bear be sacred, this brokenness be real, may the wounds so deep within my heart reflect You as they heal.”
Lord, let your love be evident in all I say and do as I go forth from this place.