Saturday, November 21, 2009

Help me in my unbelief

2 nights ago I got the news that John Green, a college classmate, was found to have died in his home of carbon monoxide poisining. His wife Cheryl, also a classmate, was in critical condition but I understand she's made a strong recovery.

John and Cheryl have had a tremendous impact on a lot of lives. Even in college, their example and faith made a huge difference to so many people. John was the minister for many many years at the Christian Church in Clay Center Nebraska. Over the years I'd run into people who knew John and Cheryl through their ministry, and all I can say is that it's a tremendous loss for the church and the community. You could get a sense of the kind of person he was from the report that KHAS TV had on him.

I sat, very heavy hearted and stunned. All I could think about was how sad it was for John. In fact I almost started this off calling it sad news.

And then I stop myself and think... why does this leave me so heavy hearted? When I get right down to it I know I find myself feeling sad for John, and yet... the truth of the matter is he's got it an awful lot better right now than any of us. He's in a pretty awesome place and I know for sure he's not feeling too terrible at all about where he is. I do feel bad for Cheryl, I can't begin to imagine waking up and learning that the man she's been married to all these years is gone. They have 2 kids and a huge family known as the church there. And for all of them, I do feel terrible.

But I know that if I'm honest, deep down I know it's John I have been feeling bad for and that it's a very hard feeling to shake.

I then rationalize it all away by saying when we feel bad like this it's for our own loss. And maybe that would be true if I saw John on a regular basis. I always considered him a friend in college (how could you not? he was just that kind of guy) but since then I've only seen him in passing a few times. I have no plans of seeing him anytime soon. I hope this doesn't sound bad to say it, but there's not really a true personal loss here. That really probably isn't the best way to say things, but what I'm getting at is that there's not an ongoing relationship now and so if it's not been there it really isn't a loss from that side of things.

And so when I shake it down to its core, if I'm being honest, I feel sorrow for his sake. And it's that feeling that leaves me wondering about my own faith.

It's a strange mix of thoughts here. I can't find even a bit of a question in my mind about where John is at this moment. From the time I've known him it has been obvious that here's a guy who has lived out of his faith. I know... I just know... without question or doubt... that his faith has him in a wonderful place, finally getting to enjoy being with the same Jesus he has followed and preached about and walked with for all these years. It can't get any better than that.

But I guess that's the mix of thoughts. Because when I know that, and in my heart I celebrate that, but then I'm feeling sad for him, then it leaves me wondering just how much I really believe it. In the end I think I find myself maybe discovering that while I know in my mind there's a great amount of assurance and belief, but some of the sadness I feel makes me wonder if that faith isn't as much in the heart as it could be? I don't know that this is me knocking myself as maybe understanding a bit more about my own faith, and how there's still a huge amount of room to grow in it.

And I look forward to growing to the point where news like this doesn't trigger an instant sadness for someone but instead brings about an instant celebration for their sake.

It's at this time I think I really appreciate the honesty of a father who came across Jesus and had said "If you can do anything." Jesus called him on that "if" and I love what the father came back with, because I think it so greatly fits in with where I am right now. Maybe where a lot of us are?

"I do believe. Help me in my unbelief"

1 comment:

  1. May memories provide you comfort. I don't know who said it but, "some people strengthen others just by being the kind of people they are." I do know, you are a better man because of him.