Thursday, October 23, 2008
It has been one of the most emotionally difficult months of my life thus far, but despite that I have found myself in the midst of a great feeling of hope. I don't know what I am so hopeful about... but I know there is something just lurking in the wings.
As you may already know, we had the privilege of saying farewell to one of our college mates, Justin Chesnut, this past week as he went to meet the Lord. My mind is still blown by the entire situation and it comes and goes with how 'all right' I am. My biggest impression of the entire experience of seeing a dear friend make this journey is how amazingly proud I am of him and to be able to call him my friend. Maybe I am still struggling with some denial surrounding Justin's death, but I feel as if he has never left and never will. The communion of the saints has become a very important concept to me in this last week. I have needed divine reassurance that our circle remains unbroken even through the event of death. It sounds a little crazy at first, but I have come to see just what a precious gift having a loving community of friends is in this past week, and now having a friend who has spoken into our lives go to be with the Lord I have felt how transcendent of dimension community can become. I know there is a hole in my physical life where Justin fits and it pains my heart deeply to know that he won't be at our get-togethers bodily, and that if I ever have a family that he won't be part of my family's extended community experience directly, but i truly hope that I am continuously cognizant of how he has shaped my world view, my friendships, my memories, and how this will shape my future. I want so badly to believe that i will see him at New Years, or at the next wedding of a friend... but even though I know that isn't physically going to happen I hope, and am going to work to make it so it still continues on some level.
I was on facebook the other day looking through his profile and specifically his pictures. Somehow even with Justin separated from us in this new way that has never truly effected me in this way before, I knew that I was loved. I found a folder full of pictures of friends from Greenville that Justin had labeled as "People I will never forget... and I hope never forget me." I was in there. Twice in fact. My heart did a flip-flop. Wow. Someone has claimed me as a person they never want to forget. Mind you, Ian was in there at least three times as much as me BUT I made the cut. It is amazing to somehow feel so reassured that this friend who I will never again on this earth hear reassuring words from, or stories of interesting things he has been doing, or amazing conversations about God or miracles, never another goofy joke on this earth... this same person is somehow still letting me know that I am loved. This drove home to me how awesome it is that God answers the prayers of saints far after they depart from this earth... and I don't even begin to claim to know the prayers that Justin offered to God, but my heart wells up every time I think of how the prayers in his actions will continue to yield long past his 24 years.
I was also thinking a lot this past week about how God answers prayers in amazing multi-faceted ways. It blows my mind how masterful the hands of God are on our lives. He weaves together stories and coincidences and surprises us with bursts of color and love. Jared, Justin's older brother, told us something that rocked my world during our time there. He told us that he and Jordan, Justin's younger brother, had prayed when they were kids that Justin would have real friends that loved him for him. That right there makes my brain explode. Kate and I were discussing that later and she said "I prayed those types of prayers for myself." I really got to thinking about that. I, especially in high school, pleaded with God to send friends I could trust and be without pretension or acting. Friends who loved Him and wrestled with tough questions while still retaining hope. Friends who wouldn't think my ideas were stupid and wouldn't pressure me into needing to fit into their ideas of what 'cool' should be. After Jared told us about his childhood prayers for his brothers he told us what a blessing we all were to him and his family in this confusing and hurting time. His mom told us that she was amazed at how we dropped everything and came running... and how she didn't think she even had friends who would do that sort of thing. I was so stunned by that. Here all this time when we all have found a 'place' where we fit in and thrive and feel encouraged and loved, we had been the answers to so many prayers. Prayers of our own, of our families, I'm sure of some of our professors, and the more I think about it...the prayers of many saints in a number of indirect ways. How beautiful. How mysterious. Justin was the answer to our prayers while we were being the answer to the prayers of his brothers. That seems like such a simple story, but my mind cannot even wrap around the complexities of how many prayers that may have involved. Relationships.
There were a lot of beautiful God-breathed moments during this process. All I can chalk that up to is that the Lord knows the pain that happens when we are separated and His comfort is great.
My mind is swarming with a cacophony of thoughts and questions, but it is over arched and quieted by a peace i am unsure I have ever had before.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
"Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love"
-Sir Francis Drake
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