One year ago today one of my best friends stepped out of this world and into the next world. It was sudden and unexpected. We all know the bridge is out up ahead of us, and some of us get a sense that it’s near, but with Steve it was abrupt, an otherwise ordinary day. For his wife, Becky, their children, and other family, it was a hard blow. For friends and for the church he served as a deacon, it was arresting. Being older than Steve I always assumed that I would go ahead of him, but of course, it doesn’t work that way. Life is not sequential. We know this and yet we’re still surprised. We all seek to understand the reasons why.
If God had not revealed Himself in Scripture, we could never have any answers to such questions because our limited knowledge keeps us in the dark. While I can’t know all that God knows, I can know the parts that He has revealed (Dt. 29:29). I don’t know why He called Steve home last year, but I do know that He is good, powerful and wise, and that He loved Steve and Steve’s family. I know that God has a perfect plan:
Since his (a man’s) days are determined,
The number of his months is with You;
You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.
All my questions are not answered, but some important ones are. In fact, those answers give me great comfort every day, not just regarding things like Steve’s death, but also in granting faith and courage to live each day, knowing that our lives are completely in His hands.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
In a world without God, Steve’s death, my death, everyone’s death, indeed, everyone’s life, means nothing. We got here by chance, and we will vanish the same way we came, and death will take all meaning with it. In that world the cosmos was an accident and so were each of us. As one scientist put it: “From this tiny speck of dust we continuously strive to understand other specks of dust in the endless cloud of dust we call the universe.” Follow the science!
I knew Steve Ramsey, and he was no speck of dust; he was God-like, because he was made in the image of God. He was full of value; He was a glorious gift. And while he was broken (like the rest of us), God was at work in Steve to restore him. He began that work in Steve many years ago in Jesus Christ, and a year ago today the Lord took Steve to the next level of glory. God lets you and me read ahead to see how the story ends. This is something else we can know with certainty.
We are all still sad because Steve is not present with us in the flesh (though his memory, love and wisdom remain). Nevertheless, Steve is not sad at all. Like little children who think Christmas day is always a long way off, we perceive our reunions are a long way off as well. Steve, however, sees it from the other side―he has a more mature perspective―he knows we’re right behind him.
4 “Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
5 Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.