I can’t pinpoint the exact time I met Chris, but it is most likely that we became acquainted working at Gulf Coast Bible Camp during a teen retreat. One thing I do remember clearly is that there was never a time when I didn’t feel a deep kinship to Chris Lockhart. When his wife, Susan, messaged me to tell me that Chris had passed from this life, I was immediately filled with sorrow and regret. I haven’t talked to Chris in a while. How I wish I had called him last week to catch up. Chris was only 46 when he went to be in the presence of his Lord. That leaves a lot of people here who need comfort from above.
Good memories are not hard to come by. I remember Chris leading worship at Bible camp. I remember our youth group from Pascagoula going along with his youth group from Mobile on a bus to Youth In Action. I remember his bouncy jumpy character, he was just nonstop. The humor, the sharp conversation, his heart for loving especially those others overlooked, and the one thing he loved more than anything, family. Susan and his girls were the great loves of his life. That was unmistakable, as well as their love for him.
Chris and I became closer through the tragedies I lived through. His support and encouragement were such a strength to me. After Katrina roared ashore, destroying much of the Mississippi Coast, a massive rebuilding and restoration effort ensued. It was exhausting and exhilarating … then exhausting again. One of the people who gave me the strength to carry on was Chris. His day off was Friday. Every Friday for months he came over from Mobile to Pascagoula. He informed me that he was there for me – to help me with anything that I was doing. Even if it was nothing. He was like an extra jolt of energy and the support he gave me during those Fridays was so needed and so helpful. I felt very loved and the friendship he offered had an impact on me in so many ways. I remember coming to their home to meet with their small group on a Sunday evening, which was a warm respite from the damage and stress of Pascagoula in those days. I heard from Chris often in the shadow of losing John Robert. As I looked down my Facebook page I noticed that Chris left a note on every anniversary of that date.
Chris and Susan moved to the Atlanta area and I didn’t see them as often any more. They invited me up to speak at their church about the relief effort. They came through Monroe once and we enjoyed a meal together. But that was some years ago now. I’ve watched his girls grow into beautiful young women through the virtue of Facebook, and I’m so glad to have had that window into his world.
Susan is so smart, dependable, considerate… she was always the rock that Chris needed. Now she will need her friends to surround her and see her through this unexpected tragedy. I have confidence she will walk through this valley with strength, and when her own strength falters, she will have friends to lean on. I’ve always admired their relationship and thought that Susan was the mooring that allowed Chris to be Chris.
When Susan messaged me about Chris, she said “he loved you so”. I tell you, I loved him too. I wish I could tell him that now. Maybe I’ll ask Jesus to tell him for me. I’ll just have to look forward to the regeneration of all things to see him again. God be near Susan, Hayden, and Mary Jane. May they always remember they were deeply loved.
Today is the funeral for my friend Chris (obituary). I can’t be there. But I’m thinking about the Lockhart family.