Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again." "Yes," Martha said, "when everyone else rises, on resurrection day."Jerry Amundson went home to Jesus Tuesday night.
Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?" (John 11:21:26, NIV)
Out in the corridors, we pray for life
A mother for her baby, a husband for his wife
Oh, sometimes the good die young,
It's sad, but true,
But while we pray for one more heartbeat
Our real comfort is in You...
You know pain has little mercy
And suffr'ing's no respecter of age
Of rank or position
I know that every prayer gets answered,
But the hardest one to pray is slow to come,
"Oh, Lord, not mine, but your will be done..."
At the ultimate healing
We will be home free...
(Wayne Watson, "Home Free")
The big bear of a man had lived for years with only one lung, but had been struggling for breath since before Christmas. And when the word got out that Jerry was in the hospital fighting for life on Tuesday morning, the emails and prayer-chain phone calls started, and a whole bunch of folks were praying that Jerry could hold on until his son Eric got home from Hong Kong.
It didn't work out that way.
A husband, a father, a grandfather, a businessman, a man of great faith and endurance, and a good friend was lost to our sight. And the questions started - "How come, Lord? Would 36 hours have been too much to ask? And how come this guy, Lord - when there's still more than a few folks on my list you coulda taken first?"
(A side note - the fact that I still have "a list" shows how much work God still has to do in me...)That's why, for fifteen years, I have loved Wayne Watson's song "Home Free." I am so grateful for a man of faith who was willing to share his struggles of losing someone too soon. And I have come to see death as "the ultimate healing," and I have come to faith that at the end of life, we will truly be "home free."
In the end, I am left with Jesus' question to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life...do you believe that?"
And I trust that my friend, brother, and mentor hears the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
I will be leaving for Kansas City in about an hour, and will be coming back late Monday night. I'll be taking my work lap-top with me - the fun never ceases, in that regard - but they have been very flexible in working around my travel plans. And to be honest, even if I had to quit, I would have gone this weekend. Jerry was one of my adoptive "dads," and a great source of inspiration. I could no more miss this weekend than I could cut off my own arm. And the 10 hour drive will be nice - an enforced time of peace, a whole bunch of uplifting music, and some time to be with friends.
An interesting aside - 15 years ago this weekend, I was in Kansas City for an interview, about 90 days sober. I'd pegged a lot of hope on this interview, done my homework, and I was ready.
The interview went fine. But the job they were offering was a guaranteed ticket to a breakdown and a relapse. And about 45 minutes into the interview, I came to that sinking realization. And by the end of the interview, I told them that I was the wrong person for the job - even though I desperately needed employment at the time. I left the inteview site on the Country Club Plaza filled with the fear that I'd never be employable again, that I was hopeless, helpless, and I deserved what I was getting.
My friend Craig (who I was staying with) invited me as kind of a consolation prize to go along with him and his wife to something called The Sunflower Roundup. I had no idea what it was, but thought, "What the hell...why not?"
It turned out to be an AA conference with about 1,500 sober alkies and addicts gathered together to celebrate sober life. Speakers, food, fellowship - it was exactly what I needed.
The Roundup is happening this weekend. I'm looking forward to repeating history, and hooking up with a large number of AA folks I haven't seen in years. That will be cool.
So I pray for clear roads, safe driving, and a weekend filled with laughter and tears, and hope those prayers get answered in the affirmative.