Today, amid the chaos and controversies taking place in the world, Rich and I attended the funeral for two high school sweethearts tragically killed last week in a car accident. Nick and Janeal were sweethearts in every sense of the word .... not just dating.... but sweet hearts to the friends and family who loved them, as evidenced by the crowd in attendance. They were eulogized as having beautiful smiles, warm personalities, and friendly to all who met them. I knew Janeal when she was in the awkward middle school stage, however, she still had that winning personality and I knew then she was on the high road to success. Nick was a football player getting ready to rev up for his senior year and loved to have a great time. He died on his birthday.
The funeral was slated for noon at a large church in our area and as we arrived to join the crowd already gathered, you could sense the shock and disbelief on the faces. As the ceremony began, we stood to honor the families as they proceeded into the sanctuary. And the outward signs of grief coming from a father, a mother, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends filled the worship center with only the groanings that one can understand who has lost someone so near and dear to them. The tears and sobs in the room matched the rain hitting the roof as if heaven itself wept along with us.
There were prayers, songs, eulogies, the usual. And you could read the silent hearts of the teen-agers: "Why?" "She just graduated." "I loved them both." "Don't tell me there is a reason, I want to know the reason." And just as if the pastor could read their minds, he said, "Each of us has an assignment. If you play on the football team, you have an assignment. If you work at Walmart, McDonalds, or anywhere, you have an assignment. Nick and Janeal each had an assignment and when they completed it, God called them to Him. So, realize today your assignment and carry it out well."
And about 1,000 of us sat there listening, praying, crying, and hugging. And among those 1,000 people, some were black, some were white, some were mixed, some were Hispanic, and some were Asian. And among those 1,000 people there were old people, middle aged people, and young people. And among those 1,000 people there were fat people, skinny peoples, tall people, short people and they were wearing different clothing. And among those 1,000 people, I am guessing there were heterosexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals, and transgenders. And among those 1,000 people there were Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Muslims, as well as skeptics. But for two hours on a steamy, rainy late June afternoon, 1,000 people forgot their differences and honored the lives of two young sweet hearts. For two hours, we loved each other and didn't know anything about each other.
I've been looking for an answer to address those things on social media that shake me to the very core of my beliefs. Yes, the answer lies in Scripture, but it also is in the moments surrounding us.
Perhaps that was the assignment for Nick and Janeal. Perhaps in their deaths, it gives us new meaning for loving each other and for how to live a life of compassion. If so, well done children. Now go get your reward and soar everyday in heaven, praising the Father who gave you new life in Him. I can't wait to tell you all about it when I see you again.