Sunday, October 27, 2013

8:43 AM... Run to Glory

Today has been all about 8:43 for me.

You see, a very dear loved one, who has taught me more than I can ever put into words, died this morning. His name was Kevin. He was sweet, generous, loving, and a hard worker; he always had a hug for someone who needed one, and an open heart. And he was a runner the last couple years or so of his life.

Sixteen months ago, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. And for sixteen months, he fought the GOOD fight and quite literally ran the GOOD race. Most people I know don't do many runs. But Kevin? He did NINE five and ten-k runs AFTER brain surgery. The last one, he crossed the finish line with his wife, on a walker... but he MADE IT. And then, today...he ran to glory. This time, he didn't need a walker; he didn't need the assistance of people running with him to keep him steady... this time, he was able and strong and did it on his own, courageously, with a heart full of love.

At 8:43 this morning, Kevin walked into the gates of Heaven; at 8:43 this evening, I did communion to honor my God, Who made Kevin and put him in my life, and the life of this wonderful, even heroic, honorable man. He and his wife have been a second set of parents to me in more ways than I can count, for which I am thankful. And for soooo many, he was a HUGE inspiration.

So, Kevin and Cheryl... I am more than thankful for them {432, 433}. Thanks doesn't begin to cover it.

I am thankful that "I love you" were the last words he and I spoke to one another, this past Wednesday after I sent much of the day with them {434, 435}. Thankful God saw to it to place them in my life and in my heart. I don't know what my life would look like without them in it, and am glad I never had to find out. :)

I am thankful for the Christmases we've celebrated together watching the Scrooge play... that Kevin nearly single-handedly built many of the sets for {436}. Thankful to have been in their home group whenever I've been able to attend {437} and for being able to get to know and love he and his wife, and as an extension, their family.

I learned more about the love, grace, and peace of the Savior from this one man than from all others combined, in many ways. And by watching his interactions with his dear wife, I have also learned immensely much about godly relations, above and beyond what I normally see, even in the Church.

I grew up in the Church. I have never been immune to any of these things, but it has been Kevin and Cheryl God has used in my OWN life to really help some of these things hit home.

Kevin lived a life walking the keyboard of PRAISE; at 8:43 this morning, he slipped peacefully away with his wife and daughter by his side, climbed the angels' ladder (maybe you know it as Jacob's ladder...) and through the gates of heaven to the presence of our Heavenly Father. And I believe Cheryl when she said, knowing Kevin, he likely raced an angel to the throne. :) That sounds like our Kevin...

In the coming weeks and months, things will be difficult for many people who loved this wonderful man. And yet it was Christ Jesus Who made him so wonderfully... Kevin was the ultimate example of a person fully running the race set before him. He did it with a smile much of the way; even some joking along the route, even toward the end. And dear friends... that's what I pray for each of us.

Not that we die the same way, or walk the same exact route, for we are all on different walks with the Savior... but that we will all make it to see our Heavenly Father, and loved ones - such as Kevin - who have gone before us.

I told Cheryl this afternoon when I saw her, yes, he was greeted by family... but there were also people like my own grandfather who were there to greet him, too. They never knew each other on earth, but I wholeheartedly believe my Grampa Bob was there with one of the first hugs for Kevin, because the Lord knows they've both really impacted my life, and therefore one anothers' lives through time... because God lives above time and space, and the lessons I learned from both of these wonderful men have overlapped in ways only God could create. And Maggie was there... and so many people who he knew and loved, and those who know and love us who know him even if they haven't met, for you see... we are all ONE family in Jesus Christ, and that family is transcendent of time. So I hope Grampa and Kevin got a good long hug in today... two men I admire beyond words whom I love so much.

And when you and I come to our OWN time... if we are part of the body of Christ, these wonderful men will be among the great cloud of witnesses cheering us into heaven along with the angels, too... where we will see them again, and we will see our Father face to face.

So, run your own race, but... I pray you will aim to run to GLORY, like Kevin did. I'd like to see you there, whether we ever meet face to face on earth or not.

PS-- For those who are on Pinterest and know Kevin personally, I have begin a group Memory board in his memory. Kevin's board is here.