The score was 3 to 3 going into the seventh inning of a six inning game and my team was coming to bat. As I headed toward the coach’s box by first base, a mom from the other team asked me, “Don’t you hate games like this?” I looked at her and said, “I have a whole new perspective on this game tonight. This is just baseball.”
You see, on my way out the door that night, I got the call that Jennifer Greenwald had been killed in a car accident that afternoon. I dropped my gear off at the field and headed to the Greenwald house. Jennifer’s parents, Bob and Lori, are friends of mine. They are in my Sunday School class, Bob has worked on my cars. I love them both, and now I was torn up inside for their family.
As I walked up their sidewalk I began searching for what I would say. What had they taught me in college? What have I learned in my nineteen years of ministry? Nothing. Nothing came to mind, nothing popped into my head. Words would not be sufficient. Nothing I could say would ease the ache in these dear people’s hearts.
So I walked through the door and hugged Lori as tight as I could. Bob came down the hall a few seconds later and I tearfully hugged him. Lori told me, “Jennifer wanted to do so many great things for God…”
I’ll be honest with you and tell you that I had to answer the “why” questions that week. Why did God allow this? What good will come from this? Why Jennifer? She was such a good Christian kid. She served God gladly and wholly. Why not some crud of a kid, a kid who was a real troublemaker? You want to know my answer? I don’t know why. And anybody who tells you they do know why is either kidding themselves, or you, or both.
At Jennifer’s viewing a lady told me, “I’m just mad at God for letting this happen.” That’s a pretty natural response. I told her that I don’t know why God allowed it, but I do know this; I serve a God who loves me and loved Jennifer, and He alone has the answers. If God thought it was important enough for Jennifer to go home, that’s okay with me. He knows what is right, I know very little.
All of us make a ripple in the pond of life. Some of us make big ones, some make small ones. Jennifer’s was huge. I think every kid at Imperial High School thought they were best buddies with Jennifer, and most of them probably were. She was that kind of kid.
When they write the story of your life, what kind of story will it be? Will it be like Jennifer’s, where her loss is felt on so many levels it is almost scary? Or will it be a very small story, almost not worth telling? Only you can decide that. Only you have the power to set the course for your life. How do you do it?
First of all, make your life all it can be. You must start by accepting Christ. It makes sense that God would be the best possible option to fill the empty spot we all have in our soul. You were made to be God’s child, you were designed for fellowship with Him. You will never be complete without Him.
Secondly, get outside of yourself. Jennifer touched so many people because she never met a stranger and always looked for new friends. We get so caught up in our own lives and problems that we never even look at those around us. What a mistake we make. What a horrible way to live.
At the graveside service I read a story about a ship sailing away from port. As we watch a majestic sailing vessel head off over the horizon out of our sight we say, “She’s gone.”
Gone where? She is still as beautiful and majestic as before. She is still just as broad of beam and hull as before, she is just out gone out of my sight. And at the same time we say, “She’s gone,” just over the horizon is a group at the other port waiting and watching, ready to take up the chant, “Look, she’s coming home!”
That day we said, “Jennifer’s gone.” And even as we uttered those words, the angels in heaven stood at the gates and said, “Look, Jennifer’s coming home!”
Missing Jennifer, but happy she’s finally home… Jerry