Friday, May 9, 2014

Torn

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

                                                                                                                                    Philippians 1:21-26 (NIV)

Loving Jesus will not necessarily change our circumstances.  Following Jesus will not necessarily spare us from any of the realities of life that bring pain, distress or suffering.  Indeed, real devotion to Christ will inevitably lead to suffering, because a truly Christ-centered life is a sacrificial life -- a selfless life.

At the same time, Jesus not only gives us the strength to endure hardship, but our devotion to God, to other people and to the gospel inevitably makes our earthly problems seem smaller.  It is the impact on our emotions and attitudes that comes from having an "eternal perspective" on life.

By contrast, when we focus unduly on ourselves, our problems will always appear mountainous -- impossible to overcome.  I have seen it time and time again.  There are, sadly, so many people out there who are so focused on their own struggles that those struggles have become all-consuming.  Indeed, those struggles have come to define who they are as people.  And, their ability to pour into the lives of others becomes negligible at best.

I have taught these biblical ideas for what seems like a very long time now.  And, I have believed them with all of my heart.  The challenge now, however, is to live them.

To be blunt, given our current circumstances life sucks.  And, my faith in Jesus is not going to change that.  Three months ago I prayed with the kind of faith that can move mountains, but Jonathan did not rise from that table at the funeral home.  He is not coming back -- Jesus isn't going to bring him back to me.

In fact, after three months little has changed.  A significant part of every day is filled with agony.  With that pain comes a longing to be with Jesus -- and to be with my son again.

At the same time, I am confident that through Christ joy will return to my home again.  It must.

I have a beautiful wife in Pam and two wonderful children left here on earth in Christian and Dani.  Although our family will never be complete again on earth, neither will it remain broken.  It will, I am certain, be healed through the faith, hope and love we have in Jesus.

I also remain convinced of the call that God has on my life -- and on Pam's.  I see it every Wednesday night as devoted men and women gather together to encourage one another, to love one another and to strain toward the goal as disciples of Jesus.  I see it every Saturday morning as men from HC live increasing selfless and sacrificial lives together.  And I see it all during the week as God continues to bring people across my path who desperately need to know Him -- or to know Him better.

Pam and I greatly appreciate the continued concern and prayers of our friends.  In many ways, I think we are doing remarkably well given the magnitude of our loss.  And, I think that is really due completely to the healing power of Christ and the incredible blessing of so many people who genuinely care.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.

                                                                                                     Psalm 28:7

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We love you John and pray for you and your family every day. Your family most definitely needs you and so does the Radical Group. We would be lost without you.....If I could take your pain, I would, but God has other plans.
Love you, Joyce W

reneedraughon said...

I am Renee Draughon. My husband is Randy Draughon, pastor of Midtown Fellowship in Nashville, Tn. Our 25 year old son, Zachary Draughon, died unexpectedly on March 1,2014. I just wanted you to know that we grieve with hope with you. God is good all the time. All the time He is good. It is Mother's Day weekend. I visited his grave today for the first time that the marker was placed. My son is not there. It is hard to go and harder to leave. God is good all them time. All the time He is good. I hope you wife has a wonderful Mother's Day. I am sure she loves all her kids and I know God loves them and holds them.

john crews said...

Renee,

I am so sorry about your son. I believe I heard about your family from a mutual friend.

I share in your grief as well, and pray for healing for you and your family. If you or your husband ever want to talk please feel free to call or email any time.

God bless you and your family.

John