In the last 72 hours I have lost a brother I have known since I was 16 years old (Rusty Watson) and a brother in Christ who I loved like a birth brother (Min. Kelcey Johnson).
Rusty (Died 7-2-15) and I went to war on the gridiron and I have often said I would have never made all-state had it not been for him. He made me a better football player because not only did he push me physically he brought the very best out of me in every single way, every day in practice. I never played a game against anyone who was even close to being as good as him.
(Rusty is the guy to my right)
Kelsey (Died 7-5-15) and I went to war for the Kingdom of God with him. I admired how he never joined a ministry. He took over a ministry and gave everything he had to it which inspired me to do more as well. I still remember our first conversation and I remember the last one and between the two there was never (NOT ONE) argument or a cross word. I am very proud of that looking back.
(Kelsey is wearing the red sweater to my left)
The last time I spoke to Rusty was 3 years ago. I was in Florida and we promised to talk again soon. We never did. And the last conversation with Kelsey was but four days ago. He was planning to buy a home and we were to talk again next week. Now we never will.
I have had the stench of death around me for as long as I remember. Lost my dad at seven... grandmother, grandfather at 8 and 9. So this is a place I am used to being. But I have often said there is a different taste to death that catches you cold. The kind of death that hits you in the face like a wet bat at midnight. I have gotten hit twice and my world is still spinning.
But this pain has me reflecting on the concept of life. This morning in church I was praying before the congregation and I implored them to thank God for this precious gift called life. But as I write this I think about the passage in Corinthians whereby Paul says “O’ death where is thou sting.” Yes, (to my theologian friends) I understand he is speaking of the sting of sin. But when the wound is fresh—and I am dealing with this flesh—I know where the sting is. It’s in my heart. Its in my memories. Its in my soul and its in my eyes.
But tomorrow—whenever tomorrow shall come, I will get over the immediate hurt and be able to deal with the beauty of a full life lived by men who have finished their course.
You see if we could speak to an embryo the embryo would report that he was well. That life was amazing. That everything he needed in the world in which he lived was at his disposal. Why? Because it is the only world he knew.
And eventually the embryo would grow and expand and it would be time to break through the curtains of the world he knew into a much more vibrant world. He’d go through a tunnel of darkness and there might be a moment of discomfort and tears. But he would enter a world with colors he never saw before. Where he could hear sounds he never heard before. Where he could taste things he could never have imagined. And he would come into a world where there would be a light brighter than anything he’d ever experienced. And he would be welcomed by friends and loved ones as he transitioned into this amazing new world.
My friends Rusty and Kelcey have simply out grown the world we know and have made such a transition. They can hear things, see things and taste things we cannot even imagine. They are in the company of a great cloud of witnesses welcoming them to the other side. And they cannot wait to see us one day where they can finish the conversation and smile in a place where there will be no more tears. No more sadness and every day will be Sunday.
Yes it still hurts—because I miss my brothers. I miss their smile. I miss their bigger than life personalities. God... I miss my friends. But I look forward to seeing them one day—whenever tomorrow shall come.
In closing... please remember today--this day, is the first day of the rest of your life. What will you do with it?