Today was a tough day. On my way home Sunday night I learned that one of the kids who I had gotten to know while I was a Young Life leader in Livingston had passed away. He was the third young person who has died this year that I had been either their Young Life leader or youth pastor. All three are tragic deaths simply because they all died too young.
I’ve tried to understand how these parents must feel but I don’t have a clue. Three other kids have died tragically in Livingston this year as well. Though they were not “my kids,” this community has been shaken because they were “our” kids.
At the visitations of these kids, you see a side of life that, while tragic, is also very encouraging. Kids, because of their youth, always have a large number of people coming to offer their respective families condolences. Some of these people may not have been in contact with the kids or the families or even other visitors for years but this one tragedy brings them all back together. It reminds us all how precious life is and how quickly it can be snuffed out. And that’s the good thing. We are reminded of how glorious each individual really is in this interconnected thing that we call life.
Relationships are both the foundation and the building blocks of life. Without relationships, we do not exist. That’s what makes it so hard for us when one of our relationships is lost, broken, or severed. You and I were made in the image of God for a relationship with him. That’s our primary relationship and all other relationships stem from that foundation. So if our foundation is week, is it any wonder that sometimes our relationships are strained?
I’ve thought a lot about one of my best friends, John, and Megan, James, and now Tyler since their deaths. I’m probably like most people and quite often ask God, “Why?” I can repeat back what Scripture says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I can say that with absolute conviction and belief but it doesn’t stop me from asking, “Why? Show me the purpose.”
While driving home tonight, Amanda called me from Olive Garden. She and Sophia were having a girl’s night after dance. Amanda passed Phia the phone and she excitedly said, “Hi Daddy. Are you coming home?” She made my heart swell. At the end of the conversation she said, “Bye,” and I said, “Sophia. I love you,” because I always want her to know that without question, her Daddy loves her.
The Daddy in me wanted to hear her say it back but she didn’t because she was too excited, too preoccupied, or just too Phia to recognize that I was trying to elicit a response from her. I got a glimpse into what I think God experiences when He wants to hear back from us, “I love you Abba.” So often we don’t. We’re too excited, too preoccupied, or just plain too human. Do me a favor. Do yourself a favor. For all those Moms and Dads who don’t get to tell their kids, “I love you tonight,” make it extra special when you say it to your own. If you don’t have kids then tell your spouse, your parents, your friends, whoever … let someone know that they are loved … honestly loved. A lot of good comes from doing this. The best comes from it.