Please understand that I will never pretend to know what the families of the Texas shooting are going through this week.
But I could have been Joe Holcombe.
He lost eight family members to senseless violence.
I don’t make that comparison lightly.
I have stood at a triple funeral of family members as the result of violence. I have heard the trite platitudes as if ANYTHING someone could say would patch the hole gaping in my heart.
But I have to say this.
My family is also the church. If circumstances were different and we lived in a tiny town together, we would have all been in church together last Sunday morning. In actuality, we were still gathered in churches across my city and our nation.
But if we all lived in a tiny Texas town, we would have all been in our spots on the pew or covered chair.
We wouldn’t be there out of obligation; we would be there out of freedom. Because JESUS radically changed us, we would have no other priority than spending a morning worshipping him.
Because in my family Jesus saves:
He saved the racist.
He saved the manipulator.
He saved the divorced.
He saved the prisoner.
He saved the druggie.
He saved the self-righteous.
He saved the bitter.
He saved the liar.
He saved the abused.
He saved the cultist.
He saved the rebel.
He saved the drinker.
He saved the burden carrier.
He saved the harsh father.
He saved the cheated.
He saved the helpless, hopeless, and heartless.
He has saved nearly every one of my family members.
And we didn’t do it to join a church, we did it to be made new.
I have sat at more than one funeral and texted some of the sinners on that list and thanked them for following Jesus.
It is their faith in Jesus that gives me hope. Our trust is in the one who has the power to lacerate death back. It is the only hope we have when we face the unimaginable.
I think this is a touch of what Paul was saying in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 when He said we would grieve differently.
NOW, hear me clearly. Paul does not say we will not grieve. He says we’ll grieve WITH HOPE.
In fact, I would argue that a life fully lived for Jesus will have accomplished its purpose and can and should leave a hole.
I would cry maybe all of the rest of my days if I was truly in the shoes of Joe Holcombe. But I can tell you from experience that I have stood beside the caskets of those who have left me with hope, and I have stood beside those that have not. I handle saying goodbye to those who leave me with hope much better.
So I can’t help but ask. Will you leave others with that hope?
I am serious when I say… MESSAGE ME or email me at email@example.com. I would love to share how you can leave that hope with your friends and family. I could tell you about how Jesus makes all the sinners in my family brand new, and that he can make you new, too.
Because it could have been my family Sunday morning, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.