Friday, August 1, 2014

Celebrating a Beautiful Life

Today we're celebrating a second birthday of Jay's without his beautiful presence in our lives. He would be turning 50 today, and this week would've been filled with plans for a big celebration to mark such a special occasion. But instead I find myself reflecting on memories that keep me smiling, and something so much larger than the milestone of turning 50. Today I choose to celebrate a good fight and a good life.

A scripture that reminds me of Jay is "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). As one pastor puts it, "to be poor in spirit is not to be poor of spirit". Jay loved God with all of his heart--he was not poor of spirit, but he was poor in his own spirit because he believed in his complete need for Jesus Christ. This did not come easy to Jay, as it usually doesn't for anyone on this earth, but he took to the war in his soul and in faith he fought well.

When we first got married he used to have dreams that he was a GI Joe in some kind of war, fighting for his life. In his dreams, he was  nothing short of awesome. Scaling walls, near landing on explosive bombs, he'd fight the good fight and not let up, until of course his alarm went off.  This was so descriptive of  Jay because it shows both his character and his journey with God. He was a fighter, and from the battlefield of his soul, like Jacob of the bible [Genesis 32:22-32], he took his crippled hip and didn't try to hide it. He knew his need for God by his own depletion of himself, and that humility and brokenness spoke to those around him. This is what makes a good fight.

He would often say that he didn't trust anybody who hadn't met their own train wreck, and he had every right to say this as he had very much met his. What Jay meant was that if we don't recognize our own wrecked state, how on earth can we truly understand our need for Jesus? How can we remain grateful for the price He paid on Calvary for our condition, and how can we possibly be solely reliant upon him when we still yet believe in our own capabilities?

No, not all of us will become crippled at the hip to understand these truths, but like Jacob we all have to face our failures and weaknesses and recognize that we can't go on without God. Jay's spiritual limp to this day reminds me that there's a little bit of Jacob in us all.

Jay had learned that it wasn't wise for man to walk alone and he had an incredible brotherhood that surrounded him which involved vulnerability, honesty, accountability, and trust. They called themselves [and still do] the Piratemonks. This is a fellowship of men that meet derived from the book Samson and the Pirate Monks of which my husband read 7 years ago. This book changed his life, and joining this group of men, helped him to lay down his false personas and strive for authenticity.

In Jay's last seven years of his life he would journey along side these men and they along side of him, and I would observe this circle of beautifully connected brothers who loved God, and each other. Watching Jay's journey over those last seven years and his involvement with the Piratemonks had a great impact on me and my understanding of the body of Christ. I will be forever grateful for this ministry, and forever grateful to these men.

Oswald Chambers says-who are the people who have influenced us most? Certainly not the ones who thought they did, but those who did not have even the slightest idea that they were influencing us. In the Christian life, godly influence is never conscious of itself. If we are conscious of our influence, it ceases to have the genuine loveliness which is characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.

Jay inspired me...

"Happy birthday soldier. I love you".

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