“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 (NASB)
Can you remember the last time God jolted your life and allowed you to see things as they “really are” instead of how you were “perceiving them to be?”
A month ago God jarred my life. In fact, He shook it violently. Not in a mean way. Not because I had done something wrong. More like a loving parent waking a child from a bad dream.
In this month’s Coffee Break audio, I share the details of this painful JOLT. It’s difficult to adequately communicate about it in print; so I encourage you to listen to it.
My friend and fellow staff member at the church, Craig, had a massive heart attack and died instantly on the slopes of Lake Tahoe. He was 53 years old. He left behind a godly wife and three children ages 21, 21, and 20.
The heart attack came completely out of the blue. Craig had had an EKG done a year ago that showed no problems. A recent physical exam and tests had been clean. And now he’s gone!
After the shock, I spent hours in thought and prayer. I consoled his family. I participated in his large memorial service and did the private graveside ceremony. The experience has reminded me of some truths I’d like to share with you about what matters most.
1. LIFE IS UNCERTAIN
We have no guarantees. I found myself reviewing life goals and evaluating important relationships with a new level of sobriety. I asked myself, “What must be done, and what will I regret if I don’t address those things beginning NOW?”
What important relationship or life objective do you need to address right now?
2. DEATH CLARIFIES PRIORITIES
As I pondered WHO and WHAT really matters, I became newly aware of the trivia and distractions I have allowed to drift into my life.
Since that time, I have systematically begun to “declutter” my life and eliminate distractions. I am seeking to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles me and run with endurance the race set before me, fixing my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2
What encumbrance or sin do you need to get rid of?
3. TRUTH TRIUMPHS TRAGEDY
I am deeply saddened, but not without HOPE. The TRUTH and reality of Heaven, the TRUTH and strength of Craig’s relationship with his wife and children, the TRUTH of a God who is near and comforts the brokenhearted and those who are crushed in spirit has been on full display.
His friends talked about his authenticity, depth, sense of humor, commitment, and availability in a way that was anything but platitudes. But the Craig they were describing was far different from the Craig who almost lost his marriage and family through his workaholism, denial, and isolation. It was out of that broken experience years earlier that Craig’s national ministry to marriages and families bloomed and was the impetus behind me hiring him as our Family Pastor.
He would have been the first to tell you the TRUTH that when you humble yourself before the Lord and make Christ and your marriage your first priority— God still does miracles!
What steps are you actively taking to get the truth of God’s Word in your heart, your mate’s heart, and your children’s hearts?
4. FAMILY TRUMPS FORTUNE AND FAME
I was awestruck as I listened to his wife and children talk about the kind of husband and father Craig was. One of his sons said, “My dad was not a great man … he was a good man. We were more important to him than being great.” Then he added, ”I think the world needs a lot less great men and a lot more good men like my dad right now.“
Is there a mid-course change you need to take in your family life?
Finally, I’m pretty sure that most of us want to have relationships, families, and – if married – a marriage like Craig’s. It’s my experience, though, that a great majority of people don’t know how.
Craig shared my passion for helping Christians live like Christians in their marriages and families. So many couples are struggling and need help – especially young couples who simply don’t know God’s Word.
In honor of Craig, we’ve included a chapter from my new book Marriage That Works to help you and those you love grow in what can be your most important contribution to your legacy – especially to your children and grandchildren. (Download Book Chapter)
In addition, please pray with special intentionality this month as we seek to call God’s people back to His design for marriage and family relationships in all of our broadcasts as well as in this new book.
As sad, painful, and jolting as the loss of my good friend has been, it has ignited in my heart a clarity and singular focus about what matters most.
My prayer is that it will do the same for you,
CEO and Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge