Let me tell you about my friend, David. We went to high school together and I can say with the utmost certainty that David is one of the people God used to pursue my heart on my journey to salvation. Not many people were openly serving Christ when I was in high school a little over ten years ago, but David was. I, myself, was just flailing in the wind. Led mostly by my feelings, influenced by my current surroundings. One aspect of my nature that I believe helped me flourish in high school was my chattiness. I talked to everyone. David was one of the people that I spoke with quite often. What ultimately brought me and David together was a community service organization called 'Ambassadors.' It was through this very organization that I found my love for children, my dedication to philanthropy and the value of kindness, and David was right there next to me.
I can't recall a time where David explicitly shared the gospel with me but I knew, even then, that he lived it. He embodied many, if not all the characteristics of Christ. He was kind and warm, empathetic and peaceful. One particular semester, we grew closer due to being placed next to each other in fourth period, both our last names had 'Ts'. We talked about everything under the sun and began to eat lunch together fairly often. There was one particular day where I got my wires crossed and had committed to sitting with both David and some of my other friends, some might have called them 'the black kids.' I thought that surely, my soft-spoken, white, Jesus loving friend in our predominantly white school would tell me that we could eat lunch together another time but instead, he plopped down right next to me, sack lunch in hand and a smile on his face.
Nervous, I watched David, as some of my friends animatedly shared stories that needed much cultural context, cursed, and even talked about white people right in front of him. Although there were times when his eyes got big and his face was red with embarrassment, he engaged with us all, sharing his own stories, when he could, and we all had a great lunch period that day. You may not be impressed with this little story, but to me, it showed David's commitment to our friendship and to his word, regardless of circumstances that put him out of his comfort zone. We went on to share many lunches and milestones together until we parted ways for college and even kept in touch for a while after that.
David passed away from cancer earlier this week. Although I knew he was sick, I wasn't prepared for the impact that the news of his passing would have on my week, let alone my life. I hadn't spoken to David other than through Facebook in years but when I heard of his death, my world was rocked in a way that it has never been.
I know David is with the Savior. I know he is healed and safe and whole. I know that his suffering has ended. But, I'm pissed and I have so many questions. How could a person who helped lead me to Christ through their love and kindness now be gone? How could a person who grew up around Christians be sick their whole life when Jesus told us to heal the sick? I serve a just God, how is this fair? With so many mean and coldhearted people in the world having children, why is that David, the kindest person I've ever known will never get to do so? Have we misused our authority or misinterpreted it? Have I misunderstood the promises? Have I not divided the word in a manner that has led me to the truth?
As I expressed some of these things to my Christian friends, I got an array of 'Christianese' rhetoric. Scriptures I've heard a thousand times before, statements of comfort and reassurance that have been neither comforting nor reassuring. I've heard many contradictory things, one Christian said one thing, another said the opposite. I even 'know' the answers to many of my questions but I'm not finding much peace in them. I know that my questions are deeper than the death of my friend, they are questions that have been simmering for a while and I must now confront them head-on. I feel as if I know nothing and I'm unsure of everything. I'm not sure who to believe or who to turn to.
Other than God Himself.
The only thing I'm sure of is Him and His love. I saw Him in David, I've watched my life, my mindset, my heart change since I gave Him my life. But, today, He's all I'm sure of. My testimony is true but my faith has never been challenged like this. I'm not going to renounce Christ but I can't help but feel so deeply disappointed in people. We don't have all the answers. We think we know but how can we be sure?
I don't know.
I wasn't going to write this originally because I want my blog to be a place of joy and encouragement, uplift and truth. But I just wanted to let you know that I do believe that it's OK to have relentless faith and hope in Christ and also questions about what exactly this life is supposed to look like. While I may be upset now, I'm also in awe of how solid my foundation in Christ is. I may be shaken at the surface but my core is firm. I now can better relate those who turn away from this life and those who find it intimidating, contradictory or silly. I have a deeper understanding of the lyrics from one of my favorite United Pursuit songs, 'though the seasons change, Your love remains.
I do know that Christ lives in me. I know that He lived in David. So, in the meantime, I'll carry the love of Christ with fierce intentionality as my dear friend did until his very last days. His love lives on.