Thankfully, and mercifully, God got through my thick skull (or maybe thick heart) and I called him. We chatted for a half-hour about nothing of great importance... just two friends catching up after too long a hiatus. I said I'd definitely call again soon (and meant it from my heart), but did dodge his request to get together again at McDonald's for a Coke. With my teacher wife going back to school and my 1-year-old daughter adjusting to day care, I knew September was not going to afford me a lot of free time. I figured after that, I'd have more time and through the phone calls would have grown a bit closer to him again. About a week after that call, Jen e-mailed us that Jeff was in the hospital fighting for his life. A fight he would eventually lose.
I knew enough ahead of time to pray for Jeff's health (thank you Jen). Funny thing was I couldn't ask God to have him win this battle, just for His will to be done. Not that I wanted this hole in my heart, this emptiness from having lost him; it's just how could I ask for him to stay if God's offering him such a deal:
- He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
- They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
- And I know that this man ... was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.
- The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
- Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
I mourn only for my loss, and those of his friends and family. I rejoice in what Jeff has gained. And I look forward to the day when I get to meet up with Jeff again and have the heavenly equivalent of a McDonald's Coke. His treat this time, as I'm certain he's earned far more spiritual treasure than most of us.
Catch you on the flip side, Jeff!