January 16, 2009, our lives were changed forever. A phone call instantly turned my world into a living nightmare. A second of disbelief followed by indescribable pain, on top of pain, mass confusion, and then the first of many prayers, “wake me up Lord.”
The unbelievable had happened. My big brother had left this world, and now I had to bring other people into the nightmare with me.
My heart was shattered. My mind was racing like a thousand jets breaking the sound barrier over and over again in my head. It was so loud I could not hear God speak to me, and so the second of many prayers, “where are you God?”
The day only got more difficult as minutes passed slowly, and the shock wore off just enough for a million questions to invade my mind. The question I could not even bring myself to speak was, “where is Ryan now?”
My prayer became, “show me a sign Lord, I need to know he’s with you, I need a sign.”
Many scriptures came to mind, but none brought peace of mind. I needed a sign. I needed to make sense of all the confusion. I know God is always with us. I know He comforts us. I know everything works out for the good of those who love Him. But the pain in my heart was too overwhelming. In the cloud of darkness I could see no light.
Jeremiah 19:13 says, “You will seek Me and find Me if you seek Me with all your heart.”
My whole heart was crying out to God. Every part of my being was pleading with God to reveal himself to me.
God answered, and it was as if He spoke the words out loud, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
(Hebrews 13:5) And I was comforted.
Because if God never leaves us then it means He was with each of us as our lives intertwined with Ryan’s, and as our love for him, and need for him grew. All the while knowing the horrible pain we would go through, and as a father loves his children, His heart was breaking for us. And the moment I questioned, “why all the pain?” God answered, “because he had finished his race.”
Hebrews 12:1 says, “… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Ryan had everything going for him. He had a family that loved and supported him. He loved his job. He could make friends with anybody. He loved sports, and he loved the outdoors. He lived life to the fullest, always giving 110%. And I would like to think that in that final moment, God, who never left his side, was filled with joy when he said to Ryan, “turn around my son, you have crossed the finish line.”
The death of my brother brought us to the foot of the cross. At the time the cross felt like it was a mile under water, and we were drowning. Our family prayer was that God would lift us up, and in His sovereignty He has, and is continuing to do so.
God is bigger than this, and I cannot imagine where we would be right now without Him.
Praise be to God.
Praise be to God for Ryan’s life, and God be praised in Ryan’s death. He has saved my brother and set him free, death has no victory!