Actually, this is good advice for wherever you are.
You see, in 1 Corinthians 13, we find this resounding idea that no matter
what we accomplish or
how proud we make our parents or
what our spiritual gifts are or
what our GPA is or
what our income is.
None of it means a thing if we don't love.
Your work means nothing if you don't love.
I was hit really hard this past weekend by a tragedy in my hometown. At a youth ministry back to school party hosted by my parents' church, a 15 year old student drowned. You can read more about what happened here or here. It has been a heavy, brokenhearted week for the community of Madisonville, Texas.
Look at that smile!
Let me clarify that I have only visited my parents' church (they switched after I moved out). I am not close to any of the members. To my knowledge, I never met Jarad Davis.
I might just be overly emotional this week. Maybe it's because it's my tiny hometown. Maybe it's because I've been a student minister and that could have been any one of my kids. Whatever the reason, I have been mourning the loss of this student all week.
I was not sure if I should blog about this, but it has been weighing on me all week as I have prayed over Jarad's family and community.
I actually watched it unfold online. My mother texted me that evening, explaining the situation and asking for prayer. I checked all the social media and news outlets to stay updated on Jarad's condition. I stopped praying for healing and started praying instead for his family and community when someone posted that he had died. I watched as friends and family members found out about his passing and responded on Facebook in grief or gratitude or disbelief. I spent hours crying and just reading what people said about him. I know that sounds weird... but Facebook has given us such a direct outlet to express whatever we're feeling that it was fascinating and heartbreaking and devastating to watch the community react to this death in real time. As I observed the comments, this much was clear- Jarad had a legacy.
He had joy
and loved the Lord.
I don't know why he was called home to heaven so early in his life. But I do know this- none of us are promised tomorrow. That brings me back to my opening point. We can't take anything we accomplish or accumulate with us when we die. But Jarad's legacy of loving others is so evident. It has brought others to Christ (which really is what love does, isn't it?). It has left an eternal mark.
I know that this post is quite a downer. I am literally choked up writing this (and again, I didn't even know him!). I hope you'll take away something encouraging, though. You can leave a legacy of great value by loving others. Allow the message of 1 Corinthians 13 to fuel your actions. Evaluate your motivations. Pray that God's love will fill you to the brim and overflow to those around you.
If you would like to be in prayer for this family, I know that they would greatly appreciate it. I would also suggest praying for the estimated 40 students who were at the gathering and witnessed him drown. Pray for the adults who tried diligently to revive him. Pray for the youth minister, Joshua, who was there through it all and is now shepherding these students through grief. I cannot imagine.
*I apologize for the disorganized nature of this post. I am still processing what God is teaching me through this, so this is definitely a roughly written draft about this week.*