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Jesus and the Third Grader

April 13th, 2010 · No Comments

Last week I told you about my friend Roger and that Roger’s son, Eric, died as child, unexpectedly. That was twenty-five years ago; Roger hasn’t ‘gotten over it’ but he has learned to live with it. The promise that has allowed him to come to terms with the tragedy is that he knows he will, one day, see his son again and death will not separate them again.

Roger has been gracious, in spite of the pain of dragging up memories, to share his story and the lessons that have come out of his experience. Last week Roger introduced Eric and told of the events of his passing (http://www.gotpotential.org/heaven/when-a-child-dies). This week Roger shares lessons learned in the aftermath of pain and healing.

Jesus and the Third Grader, Part 2

When Eric’s schoolteacher cleaned out his desk she found it stuffed with evangelistic pamphlets. I had no idea he had taken the free literature from my office! In his short tenure as a third grade student, Eric had touched the lives of his classmates so strongly that it was necessary for his teacher to gather the entire class in a circle on the floor, go over his life, and then tell them about Jesus – friends, we’re talking public school! Yep, you guessed it. She was a strong Christian, too. Chalk up another lesson for dad. Never underestimate the power of a child – especially one carrying the testimony of redemption and being led by his Savior!

Although we may have more questions unanswered than answered in life, God has taught me that when I wake up enough to look for His plan more than mine, He often blesses me with a touch of insight more than words can express!

Soon after Eric’s funeral I recalled the day he told me of his salvation experience. The historical event happened after a Sunday morning service. Prior to moving to Southern Indiana, we had been attending a large church in Ecorse, Michigan. After arriving back home, Eric came into the bedroom and announced, “Dad I need to tell you something.” After he delivered the news bulletin, I asked him to tell me the details. “Well there is not much to tell”, He replied. I later learned that little boy had been talking with him in children’s church and after the service took him aside into a room and fulfilled his mission when he witnessed our son, praying and receiving Christ.

After Eric’s death, although months had passed, I wanted to locate the little boy, thank him, and challenge him never to stop. I contacted the church and a few weeks later, they returned my call. The senior pastor informed me that he met with the youth pastor and as many of the children, as they could assemble who were present that day. All remember seeing Eric and his friend talking and the youth pastor even watched through a window as the boys entered a room. Strangely, no one knew the identity of the other boy and, if that were not enough, all the witnesses said that it was the first and last time anyone saw him! Think what you will. We have to believe he was on assignment from God! What an honor and privilege to serve the only true God who can see off into eternity and yet come into our lives when invited!

When Jesus comes for me, be it at death or in the rapture, God’s Word has assured me that I will see him again! That is my future!

What have I learned? To list all that I have learned from Eric’s death would be impossible. Although some of what you will shortly read may have been new lessons, much was a strong reaffirmation.
1.    I do not have to have all questions answered in order to go on.

2.    At first, we seemed to be stuck in a perpetual state of shock. Within about two weeks most of our friends and relatives, although deeply touched, returned to their lives while ours remained shattered. The pain was very real and seemed to be permanent. There is no quick fix or fast avenue to get away from the pain.

3.    I discovered that it was very hard for me to take counsel from someone who said, “I know what you’re going through”, when in reality I knew differently.

4.    Close friends are essential and they will be there when needed. Many may never attempt to say much but their presence is a priceless commodity!

5.    I learned the value of striving to never isolate myself from what was left of our family. All family members deal with the same thing in different ways. As a rule of thumb, when we give of ourselves we receive from others. This is difficult because grief desires for us to pull away and focus upon our personal wounds. To succumb to this can be devastating!

6.    If you need counseling – get it. Having the assistance of a trained professional can be priceless. These folks can assist us in discovering resources and resolving issues.

7.    Guilt is a terrible thing to live with. The tendency of parking and permanently focusing on the death seemed to be the natural thing to do. Just the thought of doing otherwise made me feel like I was betraying Eric and pushing him out of my life. Eventually I realized that this was absurd. Even though I could never forget Eric, I still had responsibilities as a husband, father, and scores of other things. Time moved on and so must I.

8.    I never got over Eric’s death, rather, I learned to adjust accordingly and go on.

9.    We were just Eric’s parents and, as such, he was an individual over whom we were mere temporal stewards.

10.    I regret not spending more time with Eric as he grew. For years prior to his death I had spent most of my time either working, in school, or both. After he died, I realized how little I really knew the little blond-haired, blue-eyed son of mine.

11.    You can never say you lost someone if you know where he or she is.

12.    Since Eric’s death, all of life’s battles have never seemed as frightful and as difficult as they were prior to his departure. Surviving the biggest of battles supply faith, courage, strength, and experience for all the rest.

13.    Since hindsight is better than foresight, I have noticed that God has greatly used time to our advantage. The wounds of grief crave time to heal.

14.    Most things in life come and go but no one can steal nor destroy your memories. Find some way to use them for God’s glory and watch what happens!

15.    Last but greatest of all is the fact that God has made the journey with us. “…God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psa. 46:1)” His Spirit, His Word, and His people, especially my wife, make up the primary ingredients that keep me going – even to this day!

For Roger’ Luther’s full letter go to:  http://www.rogerluther.com/ministry/jesus-and-the-third-grader

Tags: God's purpose · Heaven · suffering · Thriving in Tough Times

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