This weekend I received the shocking news of a man who passed from this life to the next. He left behind a wife, three children and a life spent serving others, and he was only a few years older than I am as I write this. The circumstances surrounding his death were devastating, and I’m sure no one thought he’d be gone so soon.
We all want to believe death is one of those things other people experience. Not us. We will never die, or at least, when we do, we’ll be old and ready to die, with our houses in order. But that isn’t promised to any of us.
As I thought about what this man’s family must be going through in the aftermath of this tragedy, my mind wandered to the reality of my life. What if that was me, and my wife and kids were left behind with no answers, no direction, no time to prepare for any of it. What would I want them to hear from me? What would I wish I had said to them, written to them, done with them? If I could leave them with anything, what would it be?
First, I’d want them to know how much I love them. I remember they day I met my wife, and the emotions I felt just talking to her. I remember the day I proposed and she said yes, and the incredible wedding day we shared. I remember the days we learned we were pregnant with each of our beautiful little girls, as well as the days they were born, and I remember not understanding how I could love anything as much as I love them. They were so precious, so beautiful, so helpless, so dependent on us for everything, except the air in their lungs and the beat in their hearts. In an instant, life changes from what I want to do for me to what I wouldn’t do for them. I can only imagine that the love I feel for them is a glimpse of how much God must love us.
Second, I’d want them to know I believe in them and that I’m supremely proud of them. Sometimes it’s hard to believe in yourself in this crazy, difficult world, and you just need someone to tell you you’re good enough. Someone to tell you that you have what it takes; you can do it. I’d want them to always know for the rest of their lives that I believed in them and I supported them as they chase their dreams and pursue their talents. It’s a gift every person needs from their spouse and every kid desperately wants from their mom and dad.
Third, I’d want them to know how much God loves them. Sometimes when tragedy strikes, it’s hard to believe in a loving God who allows bad things to happen. Sometimes it’s confusing to navigate the tumultuous waters and continue to believe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob truly loves us and has our absolute best interest in mind. I would plead with them to remember every day that as much as I loved them, God loves them more, and He always will.
Finally, I’d want them to remember all the good times we shared, as well as all the bad times. I’d want them to remember all the laughter and all the tears . I’d want them to remember the games we played, the work we did, the knees we bandaged up for them, and everything in between. I’d want them to know that life is truly lived abundantly when we embrace it fully, knowing this is not our home. Life on earth, as great as it is, is just a journey to prepare us for our eternal destiny in Heaven with God for those who have placed their faith in the life and work of Jesus Christ.
I’ve known my wife just over 21 years, been married to her over 13 years. I’ve had nearly 11 years as a parent, 11 years building a family together, and it’s truly been the most incredible season of my life. I beg of God to let it continue for years, no, decades to come. But if that is not what God has for me, I want my wife and my little girls know exactly what they mean to me. It has been the privilege of my life to be Tammy’s husband and Hannah & Naomi’s daddy, and I will live the rest of my life making sure they know that.