Sackcloth and Ashes

Within the last eight weeks, two of my friends, both in their 20s, have passed away.

One of them was named Zach.

Zach was not just a friend, he was my wife’s cousin who was just six months or so younger than her.  Zach welcomed me into the family with open arms, useless facts, and sarcasm. He always knew how to rile up the uncles at family gatherings to discuss politics, how to get along with the younger kids, and how to make a newcomer feel as though they were always a part of his life.

Zach was also a man who would be there for anyone in need.  He would drive an hour away after a full shift to help Courtney and I move our things into our house, and he even drove two or three hours to spend some time with the family as we fished off a pier in New Jersey.  Family was important to Zach.  Courtney was important to Zach.  I was important to Zach….

Unfortunately, Zach passed away in an accident while coming home from work.  The accident was not his fault as far as we know.  The whole family slowly found out through getting calls late in the night.  I held my wife as she shook, and it was the worst pain that I have ever felt for another human being.

His funeral was PACKED.

As the minister, who knew Zach personally, led us all in processing the loss of someone who made such large of an impact on our lives, something hit home: “Zach kept a journal by his bedside, and one of the last entries was him writing his goals in life: to ‘be a godly man, have a godly family'”.  Zach was FULLY committed to Jesus Christ, and his last message for us all was of his own commitment to Christ…and you knew that in that funeral room, Zach would have wanted for all who were present to join him someday in the presence of God.

I haven’t allowed myself to process his death in the fullest sense, I don’t think.  I always feel odd when there are others who need to grieve before I begin to let myself fully grieve. But that message of Zach’s hit home….

The second friend who passed away, I will leave out of this post out of respect for his family and his close friends who need time to mourn. His funeral was packed as well as a testament to how much of an impact he had on others.

And Here we are.

When you are in your teens, and your twenties, you feel invincible.  You expect your life to extend to your 80s, at least.  But I lost two friends in the last 8 weeks who were both under 30, and who both stayed away from drugs, and other harmful choices.

It makes you think….

Am I leading a life that is blessing others?

Am I leading a life that is remaining faithful to my God?

Will my funeral be a source of encouragement, oddly, to those gathered?

I hope so.

And I’ll see my two friends again.


A Poem – Based on Psalm 42

Oh, life was full of light and then
The Clouds became my smokey lens
Images became silhouettes
And hope, a lost memory
When all that is, is but despair
I doubt the very truth of prayer
Images become silhouettes
And hope, a lost memory
Oh, My soul… Awake!
Why are you in turmoil…Awake!
You once were soaring high enough
But now I’m calling on your bluff
Oh, My Soul… Awake!
I try to think on blessed times
On grace shown then, despite my crimes
On love displayed for all to see
Of hearts filled with great empathy
But now my heart has turned to cold
My apathy becomes more bold
And I am left down on my knees
With folded hands and desperate plees
Oh, My soul… Awake!
Why are you in turmoil…Awake!
You once were soaring high enough
But now I’m calling on your bluff
Oh, My Soul… Awake!
I will recall those blessed times
And thirst for Truth, wade past the lies
For I will again find the light
For this I am willing to fight
Oh, My soul… Awake!
Why are you in turmoil…Awake!
Hope in God for I shall sing
Praises to the blessed King
Oh, My Soul… Awake!
The Psalms are full of the ups and downs of life and faith, and sometimes life is so full of apathy, and anguish.  The Scriptures tell us that expressing ourselves with these feelings is okay, and in fact, it is in scripture where we find comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our turmoil.
Christ calls us to follow him, but sometimes we lack the strength to stand. It is then that we are perplexed by our own slumbering Soul that seems to lack the passion it once contained.  We need help that extends past what we can accomplish ourselves because the fight of faith and life is worth fighting.