The phone rang and the voice on the
other end was somber, “Joe was killed.” I was stunned. Joe was only 15 years old, he had lived with
us for a summer, and the news took me totally by surprise. I quickly made arrangements and flew to be
with my family. My mother had raised her
grandson. His life had been an emotional roller coaster of neglect and abuse. He
longed for the love of his father and found it illusive and lacking. His mother was unstable and absent, and his grandmother
was the only steady influence in his life.
In the end it wasn’t enough. Joe
had taken a hallucinogenic drug, and in his altered state ran out into the highway
and was struck by a car. They life flighted
him to the hospital but it was too late—he was gone.
Emotions ran deep and the constant
questions that surface
The animosity between siblings hung in the
air, and when Sunday arrived I had to get away.
The only place of refuge was the church where I had become a
I was an hour early for the
service so I decided to attend one of the adult Sunday school classes.
The building was the same familiar structure
I had joined years earlier, but the faces were all different.
The chairs in the room were in a circle and
people had already laid claim to their usual spots.
One was open and I sat down.
d because of pain were draining.
The people were friendly and a few
When the class
began the leader asked me what had brought me to their class.
I briefly explained the occasion of my trip
to Florida, and when I had finished they came around me, some laid their hands
on my shoulder, others stayed in their seats, but they all prayed for me.
I don’t know what the topic for the day was,
or the names of those gracious saints, but I will always remember the
connection that we had in Christ.
prayed because I was family.
My wife and I have commented on how
difficult it must be for people who don’t have a relationship with Christ to
I think it goes even
deeper than that, I don’t know how people who don’t know Christ and aren’t
connected to his body can endure suffering and the pull of the world.
The Church has often caused me my greatest
pain, but it has also been a source of comfort, encouragement, and
I have seen too many
Christians play at the edge of church.
They like the feeling of family and community but they are caught up in
the world and the fringe requires less of them.
Yet, in times of difficulty and pain they edge back within the walls of
their family, because there they find the source of peace in Christ.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the
law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray
for one another so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
I love the church because when it really matters they come
together to support one another through the pains of life.
I’m just saying… (Continued).