I’m losing a friend this week. His organs are shutting down and the doctor says just a few days are left.
Josh is a young man we been connected to for a number of years and who, through all of his issues and struggles, has become dear to my wife and I.
A young man whose life has been full of trauma, abuse, addictions, lies, and terribly bad choices that have hurt himself and others badly.
A young man with a huge heart for people and service, an insanely talented artist, a young man gifted with his hands, a “builder” who has never been able to fully embrace the glory God created in him.
A young man with whom I prayed to receive Jesus.
A young man who I challenged … mostly gently … to continue to lean into God and his great love. To be more than the world told him he was. To step into his glory.
Maybe I should have pushed him harder? Maybe I should have been more engaged?
But I find God gently saying, “No. It was enough.” Such a rescue of my heart. I am sure there are things I should have said, time I should have spent, actions I should have taken; but, all the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” are not a good place to take my heart right now. Maybe later as I engage others to learn and grow but not now. Not in my grief. Not in the midst of the loss.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV 1984)
NOTHING is more important … Guard as in protect, shield, defend … Why? Because it is the source, the wellspring of life or, as the ESV translation puts it, “everything you do flows from it”. Our hearts are where we do our deepest thinking, where our convictions are formed, and where our actions begin. We do nothing in life if it has not first been formed in our heart.
It is so easy in grief and loss to move toward regret. The things we wish we’d said or not said. The things we should have done or not done. It’s so dang easy and our Enemy knows exactly when to push the regret button. In the center of our pain, his intent is to take the past and cement it into our future. To get us to agree with his interpretation of events and lock us into a lifetime of regret and the resulting fear of engagement. To keep us separated from the ones we love in both life and death and ultimately from the source of life Himself.
It’s so diabolical and yet so easy to fall prey to! How do we escape the trap? The web of deceit and mal-interpretation that so easily binds us?
As I have struggled with these questions today, Jesus takes me to the answer. Love.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law."
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
And, finally, I rest on 1 Peter 4:8 … “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
Now, I am pretty sure that I didn’t say or do all the “right” things in my relationship with Josh. I am also, pretty sure he didn’t do or say all the “right” things in his relationship with me. But, there is one thing I do know without a shadow of a doubt. We love each other. And, yes, that is enough. Enough until we meet again my friend. It is truly enough. Godspeed Joshua! Godspeed!