“I have terrible news.” That is what the doctor said as he came into the little meeting room. He then proceeded to tell all of us that despite all his best efforts, he could not save the life of David. Despite hours of fighting, trying all the conventional and cutting edge technology, and praying, his life ended. It was over.
After a few outbursts of tears, and hugging each other, all of us, feeling like we had just been punched in the stomach, we calmed down and went back to David’s room. All of us wanted one last chance to see him. To MJ, he was a husband, to the rest of us, he was either a father or father-in-law, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a friend, a co-worker, and a pastor. To all of us he was a giant of the faith.
We sang Amazing Grace and prayed together. After that, I really don’t remember much of what went on in that room. I found myself just looking at his body trying to imagine what the next few weeks and months would be like without him. The presence of his absence was already so heavy. He was gone, but not really.
Over the next few hours as our family talked about him, I could see the influence he had had on each one of us. As the day went on, all of us got texts, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages from hundreds of people all of whom loved David and were impacted by his life. Later that day visitors came by, all with stories about how he had helped them in school or at church. I realized as I watched the day unfold that this man had spent his his life giving away little pieces of himself to help others. Time, money, work, advice, prayer, love, comfort, help, no request was too great. He always gave himself away.
When I finally laid down to go to sleep, I was rejoicing in a way. He is not gone. That body we saw was not David. He lives. He is alive right now. As I write this, he is present with Jesus. As you read this, even though he is absent from this earth, he lives through those of us he has touched.
He lives on in the lives of his family who, by watching his example, saw what it meant to put the priorities of life in the proper order. Who, by watching him, learned how live out the two greatest commandments: Love God and love people.
He lives through the lives of countless people in music ministry who learned from him how to be be the best at their craft while being true worshipers.
He lives on through myriad pastors and church workers who by having had the chance to be around him now know what selfless ministry is all about.
He lives on through thousands of students who to this very day practice the principles they learned from him.
He lives on in the lives of more people than can be counted.
So, Boss, when we think of you, we will cherish the presence of your absence. We will rejoice that for you, life was always about something bigger than yourself. We will thank God that the sum of all those little pieces of yourself that you kept giving away, added up to to a life far greater than any one man could live. We will cling to your example of working for something far beyond life here on earth. We will be grateful that you were willing to be broken, spilled out, and used up for Jesus.
We will remember that even though you are not here, you are not gone. Enjoy Jesus, Boss. We know how much you love him.