Yesterday, my church family took a devastating hit. On the wave of joy following the wedding of two of our young leaders tragedy struck. Saturday, Heather and Jordan were married. Sunday, they were involved in a car accident that took Jordan's life. There are no words for this kind of loss.
Jordan was a remarkable young man with a heart for God and a passion for young people. He was an intern at our church for youth and children. He was my youngest daughter's Sunday school teacher, he was a leader, mentor, and friend to my 3 older children. Jordan touched a lot of lives. I doubt there is a person under 18 in our church that Jordan has not affected.
Heather, and her beautiful, Godly family have served in our church as long as I can remember. If you've ever been to Connection Church you have undoubtedly been blessed, been touched by a Favazza. Sue (Heather's mother) heads up our children's ministry. She loves our children. She serves them, and us their parents. George (her father) is fabulously musically gifted, as is his brother Rich. If you've ever been to a service at our church chances are extremely good one or both of these brothers blessed you with their musical abilities. Both of them are gentle, genuine, generous men of God. Bridget, (Heather's aunt) Rich's wife blesses so many people with her gift of hospitality. She works quietly behind the scenes serving others, tirelessly, generously. Jen (Heather's aunt) and Josh (Jen's husband) also work with and teach, mentor our children. Josh is a faithful member of the children's ministries, of the drama team, he serves on our board. I know I'm missing someone, please don't be hurt if I did. Heather and her siblings have always been involved in our church. You'll find them watching children on Sunday mornings, acting as jr. counselors for camp, making themselves available wherever they are needed, whenever they can. In recent years Heather has asserted herself as a leader in our youth ministry. She has grown and blossomed into a beautiful young woman of God. She has a servant's heart. She shows faith and strength and grace so often to so many. My point being this: If you have been to our church, there is a member of their family who has touched your life in some way, whether you realized it or not.
Yesterday, my heart broke, shattered for Heather. I grieved and cried for Jordan's parents, for George and Sue, for Aunts and Uncles and Cousins... I grieved with my children in their loss, with the other young people affected by this. I saw up close the ripple effect of grief in lives Jordan has touched, of those who love the Favazza family and have been blessed and loved by them.
We heard the news at the end of our service. Collectively the church gasped, immediately you heard the sounds of people crying. I looked around and throughout the church faces were covered with tears. There is a section in our sanctuary where our teenagers sit together as a group. We gathered there and surrounded those kids with prayers, hugs, tissues... The Favazza family began to arrive from wherever they were waiting to hear news of their loved ones. We prayed for Sue and George on their way to Heather, my God how we prayed and cried for Heather, we cried for our kids, we prayed for our church, we came together.
Dave, one of our pastors, took the initiative to speak to our kids. His words were direct, full of truth, full of guidance, and love for the grief of our youth. He cried with them. Our pastors, Rocky, Dave, Zac, Mikie and Al, whether it was deliberate or not, lined up against the wall like an honor guard, watching our children, watching the Favazza family, waiting to meet the need. There were no dry eyes for these men either. They stood, they watched, they waited, they prayed, they cried, they met the need.
A meal had been planned for a volunteer appreciation luncheon that was, of course, immediately cancelled. Lovingly, it became a meal for those who just needed to grieve and be with each other. People flocked to our kitchen to do whatever task they could. The food was set out, we all moved to the largest classroom. We ate together, or tried to, and we just stayed with each other. We stayed with the family and friends and kids who were touched by these young lives. A group went to Heather's home to clean, to take care of business, to bless that family in the only way they could, in a remarkably loving way.
There was so much love there, I could never tell it all here. I tell you without a doubt, the love of Jesus was evident, the presence of God was undeniably present there. I consider myself honored to be among such a group of remarkable loving people.
I'm sitting here today wondering what I can do for this family. For this beautiful young woman devastated by loss. I got nothing. I'm praying, I can't stop, every thought leads me back to her. I am making myself available.
Yesterday, the rumblings of "Why, God why?" were beginning to be heard. I know that it is natural to ask this question. It's a part of our beginning to accept the unacceptable. However, I am not asking "Why?" There is no point in it because there are no good answers. There are no answers that satisfy our grief. In fact there are simply no answers to the question "Why?" at all. It simply is. Today, I prefer to ask "What?" What can I do for this family? What can I do to honor Jordan, his life and work in the service of the Lord? What can I say to let my loved ones know how I love them? I prefer the question "What?" far above the question "Why?" Why gives me no hope, no direction, no plan. Of course, Heather and her family, and Jordan's family will ask "Why?" Their grief is obviously different than mine. I do not mean to suggest that anyone else should grieve as I do. I hope only to offer, even if to one grieving heart, an alternative question. An action option to your pain and grief.
It will take some time for recovery and healing to happen in the wake of this loss. I intend to take an active role, in any way I am asked, to help in the healing of Heather's grief. To assist her family while they hold her up until she stands on her own. To encourage my church family as they heal, and recover. We have all lost something. It is beyond sad. But we have hope in Christ.
Dave said something that I can't shake today. "None of us is promised tomorrow." He challenged us to live as Jordan had, sharing his faith with everyone he met. I need to share my faith with all of you. I don't do that as I believe I should. Fear stops me. How ridiculous. Fear? What do I have to fear? Nothing.
I believe that Jesus Christ is the one true son of God. I have accepted his sacrifice to cover my sin, and reconcile me to God. I didn't deserve that love. I still don't. But that's the beauty of it. People, society, our culture has twisted the simple truth of Christ's mission here. He didn't come to damn us to hell, he came to deliver us from it. He came in love for all of us. LOVE. LOVE. He gives us a choice and does not force us to follow Him. He loved me when I was ugly to the core. He loved me when I spit in His face and turned my back on Him. God is LOVE. Mercy... sweet blessed mercy was shown to me. Unconditional acceptance of the person I was, with all my garbage and sin, with all my mess... love and mercy. I strive to show others love and mercy. I fail almost daily. God still loves me. God still grants me mercy. I have hope. I have peace. Those are things I thought I may never see not so very long ago. How can I call you my friend, how can I say I care about you, if I keep this awesome gift, this indescribable love, to myself? I make myself a liar by not sharing it with you. I'm sorry for that.
We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised so much as another breath. All we have is this moment. Use it wisely.