Monday, September 17, 2007

Death of a Friend & Trust In God's Goodness

I had a friend die over the weekend. He was found in a hotel room. It appears that it was drug overdose.

I went to his myspace page and read the comments left there for him. Friday one said “Let’s get tore up” and all the ones that followed said things along the lines of, “RIP”, “I am sure our paths will meet again”, “You were a great guy”, “This really hurts, you will be missed”, etc.

This is the guy that introduced me to the youth pastor at FBC Charleston (Dave Martin at the time). The introduction had more to do with buying some speakers from the youth pastor more so than anything church related, but none-the-less, God used it. From here we hung out on occasion but not much interaction took place until he met Jake Smith jr., a new youth pastor at FBC Charleston. At this point, he wanted to make some changes and recommit his life to the Lord. He called me up one day and said he had a dilemma. He said he had a bunch of drug paraphernalia and drugs in his home and he wanted to get rid of them so he would not have those things to tempt him. He said that he knew he was a Christian and has been for a while. He based this off an experience he had in the past more so than scripture. We talked for a while and I called the police to inquire about what we could do in a situation like this. They sent over a cop to pick up and dispose of the items and drugs without any retribution and he was proud of him for wanting to do better with his life. From here he went on mission trips to Texas and Southwest Baptist University and he made mistakes along the way. He struggled with what he knew was right and what his desires wanted him to do. He even came to visit and stay with me for a week at Union University were we spent time hanging out and talking about what God has in store for us. During the summers we would meet up and go down to the bridge around my hometown and shoot fireworks and set off smoke bombs. Over the course of time since my sophomore year in college, he has fallen back into drugs and a lifestyle that he knew was wrong and even spent time in jail for a while.

Sometime within the last year or two, he sent me a myspace message asking for me to add him as a friend and to give him a call at the number he provided. I did and he wanted to catch up and “hear the truth” as he called it. I was always impressed with his personality. He never tried to hide anything. He was who he was and honest was definitely a character trait. No matter how embarrassing it was, he would confess to me he did it. He would also make statements reminiscent of Paul’s statement, “I do the things I don’t want to do, but the things I ought to do I don’t”. After our conversation I thought about the way things used to be and how things have changed. Memories are a good thing, but you can’t live in your memories no matter how much better things seemed at the time.

About 7 months ago or so we had our last conversations together. He called saying that he missed an appointment with his probation officer, lost his job and was afraid that he would turn back to selling drugs and using if he couldn’t find another job soon. He wanted me to pray for him and tell him the truth. We had a good long talk over the phone and I challenged him with what scripture says a Christian is and also prayed that God would use whatever means possible to turn him back to God. After we prayed, he said to me, “j razz, I don’t know that I want you praying for me as God is liable to listen to you and things may happen that I don’t want to happen. But, I know I really need to be right with the Lord… Ah well, take it easy with those prayers.”

I spoke to him once more a couple days later as I called to see how things went with the probation officer. He said that she did not make an issue out of it and he will not be going to jail anytime soon, but he still needed a job or else he was going to have to resort to other methods of bringing in income. I talked to him concerning his responsibility for his actions and what scripture says concerning what a Christian is to be: namely conformed to the image of Christ on a continually ongoing basis. We also prayed together and thanked me for my time. I told him not to be a stranger and if he ever needed anything to give me a call. He said that he would probably call me the next time he knew he needed to hear the truth. I told him he was always welcome to call.

That was the last time I spoke to him and I can’t help but to believe that he is in hell. It does not appear that he persevered and his commitment to the Lord was reminiscent of a 3 dollar fix. I believe that Luke 16:19-31 rings true in this story. If he could come back, he would not want to sit around and play catch up with his buddies or tell them that 4 pills and 3 joints and ______ is just too much when you are already intoxicated. I believe that if he could somehow get a message to those still alive, he would say, “repent, believe in the salvation that only the Lord Jesus the Christ can grant you!” "Turn to Him as He is your only hope of escaping my fate." I believe he would plead with all of his old buddies who he did drugs with to turn their life’s over to the Lord. That would be his heart cry if he were able to come back and speak.

I will miss him and probably wonder if I could have said or did something more that would have made a difference so I would not be writing this today. Of course, God is sovereign and He knows best and to trust Him is comforting in and of itself, but hard at times. Who knows, many could come to faith through the life and death of my friend… God brought me closer to Him through that initial meeting of the youth pastor without my friend ever even knowing it. He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. This too shall be made right.

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