In April 2010, my dear older brother Tim had a second heart surgery. His first surgery – for an aortic dissection – was in 2003, and during emergency open-heart surgery, Tim received a graft on the ascending aorta. He was faithful with doctor’s visits and heart scans over the years to monitor his aorta, and in the spring of 2010, Tim was told he had swelling on both sides of the graft and a leaking aortic valve. Tim prepared as best he could, and had an April surgery. There were complications. For several weeks we swirled through emotions ranging from hope to incredible pain at the prospect of losing him.
And on May 13, 2010, Tim went home to be with his Lord Jesus. Tim lived out a tremendous Christian faith that was evident in the way he served others, and the strength he demonstrated through his first heart surgery in 2003 and the seven years that followed. He kept a list of God’s blessings that he was able to participate in because of the miracle of that first surgery.
Tim lived purposefully, serving others at work, in church as he mentored others and taught classes, and alongside fantastic peers who kept him accountable. I do believe God prepares us for life events, and although we often do not want to recognize His loving hand through it, there were conversations and situations preceding Tim’s surgery that gave him an opportunity for wrestling with God’s plan.
In January 2010, when a massive earthquake hit Haiti, Tim lost his friend David, also at an early age, and also a father, who was working for Compassion. The horrible reality was difficult to accept. Tim struggled with the prospect of David’s death, and processed through grief of losing a fine man of God earlier than what was expected or envisioned – especially when one was fully in the thick of selfless ministry to God, enmeshed in outreach that would outlive oneself, and particularly embodying the urging, “To live is Christ.” (Phil 1:21).
Yet the “gain in death” (Phil 1:21) was only for David (and 4 months later for Tim) – their time to step into the pure, real hope of heaven, of the culmination of salvation, of finally realizing the purposes of time on earth found reward, and of partaking in blessing, from sacrificing in life to raise children and love faithfully, care for a brave a strong wife.
Along with others who walked the same path, they loved Jesus, and now are whole, free, healed. Real life, for them, has truly begun. They are home.
For us who remain, we may join them in minutes or years. If they could, they would beckon us to live boldly and give generously, pushing past every hindrance and in acceptance with God’s specific call on our lives, to proclaim Him in lifestyle and effort, quietly exhibiting faith and love. Perhaps the unanswered questions are not what will drive us toward madness.
Their unfulfilled dreams and visions, their unfulfilled hopes and aspirations. We want more than solutions; we want to believe that God remains sovereign, that He will embrace us, journey through the darkness that remains, and rescue us.
That ultimate relationship, that all-encompassing, perfect love of Jesus, which softens sorrow and with gentle power, true meekness, will someday set every imbalance into the proper place; right.
These men of faith, newly taken, herald an image of a vintage super hero, serving others when taken, in their prime.