Several deaths have caught my attention recently, and I would guess yours too. How often does the death of another person really make us think about our own mortality and our walk with the Lord? As Jim Woodell likes to say, “How’s your walk with the Lord?” Or as Larry West likes to say, “How are you and the Lord doing? I mean, if He came back right now would he take you to heaven to be with him?” Those are good questions designed to make us think about something we easily gloss over. Have you noticed that the passing of well-known people seems to catch our attention and touch us? Have you noticed, also, that when we get a little insight into their world we realize they hurt and have struggles just like everyone else?
Matthew Warren (27) was unknown to me, but that was not true of his very famous parents, Rick and Kay. Suicide is very cruel to the survivors, but who can tell what kind of anguish the one who dies this way is going through? I have been gratified to see much love and support offered the Warrens in this tragedy in their lives.
Jonathan Winters (87) also passed away. He was an actor in one of my all-time favorite movies, “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”. His career was much more than that one movie, of course. Some from my generation even remember his cartoon likeness and voice in some Scooby Doo episodes. He brought a lot of laughter to the world for many generations. As I think is true of many who live such public lives, Mr. Winters struggled with his own mental health at times.
Brennan Manning (78) died yesterday. I’m so thankful for his Ragamuffin Gospel. For a long time I have kept copies in my office to give away. It’s not that I think it’s perfect or even that I agree with everything in it … but contained within those covers is the truth that God didn’t love me because I was trying so hard to be good. Whether I was taught it or not, my mind wrestled with continual guilt and feelings of being far away from God. Brennan Manning taught me not only that God was near, but that he loved me completely. I grew up a stranger to grace, but I’m so thankful that Manning’s book opened the door for me. Mr. Manning was a defrocked alcoholic Jesuit priest who fell in love, married, divorced, drank and held on to God somehow through these experiences. Do you think we can learn anything about grace from such a one? I liked Scot McKnight’s reflections HERE. I wrote a little more about him HERE.
Audrie Pott (15) and Rehtaeh Parsons (17). My heart is broken over these beautiful young ladies who committed suicide. I don’t know if one was aware of the other. One was from California, the other from Canada. They shared a similar story. After imbibing alcohol they were both raped by longtime ‘friends’, people their age that they trusted, at a party. In both cases pictures of the rape appeared on social media networks and were passed around to classmates. The intense name calling and ‘bullying’ (too mild a term) were just too much for their young hearts. Having a teenage granddaughter, I am hoping for fierce and swift justice for these young women. Not that this will relieve the pain of their parents and families.
I wish that I had something astute to say here. I just see that there are so many hurting people around us. So often they do not find the person who will hear their hearts. Maybe someone to listen is just not enough. I think two things are in order here.
First, would you take a look around as you pass through this day and notice the people all around you? Could you pray a silent prayer for them as you smile and encourage them appropriately… a hug…a handshake…calling them by name … lending a hand to help?
Second, take a look at your own relationship with the Lord. In all of the uncertainty of our days, there is one bedrock truth that faces us all: we are going to die. Are you ready? How’s your walk with the Lord? How are you the Lord doing?
Thanks for reading, John.