Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
Love Is Stronger Than Death

Love Is Stronger Than Death

Last week, my wife, Sarah and my daughter Shea and I were in Tempe, Arizona visiting Anna Kate (oldest daughter), her husband Ray, our one and only grandson, Emmett and Lucia (our middle daughter who is temporarily helping out with childcare).  We were there for just under a week and had a great time together.

As the hour for leaving approached, in usual fashion, I began to partially unravel inside.  It started with a few tears, privately at first, and then for the whole world to see.  No matter what I try, I cannot seem to help myself.  I am a grown man, yet I cry like a baby whenever it comes time to say goodbye.

I began this practice of falling apart early in adulthood, each time I would visit and leave my now deceased Dad, who lived in Washington State.  I tried to prepare for leaving and gave myself pep talks to avoid the tears; however, that rarely produced the results I desired.  I should have known then what it would be like to leave my own children and, now, grandchild.

People tell me it’s a gift.  I think I have a general idea of what they mean.  I am not always able to say exactly what I want to say to the people I love, but when I am weeping like a child, saying good bye, there is no misunderstanding what I feel inside.  But my manhood is completely and thoroughly undone in the process — poor, poor, pitiful me.

I know, of course, that those I am leaving are well provided for, well taken care of and in a good, safe place.  And that helps, but I still come apart at the seams.  Just the idea of separation, of being away, even for a little while, is enough to make the waters flow.  I suppose at those moments, I realize how deeply connected I am to the people I love, and I think they know it too.

Nick Goodwin

Today, some very good people, Vince and Cindy, along with their two sons, Danny and Joey, and their extended families, said good bye to their youngest son and brother, Nick.  Nick passed away as a result of an accident that occurred last weekend.

Nick was only 15 years old.  From all accounts he was the son everyone would love to have,  He was handsome, funny, fun loving, mischievous, athletic, a good friend to his friends, a good brother to his brothers and a wonderful son to his Mom and Dad.  Nick loved to finish first; he loved riding his dirt bike; he was fond of the color lime green.  He enjoyed hanging with his youth group and playing soccer.  Nick is well loved, well liked and will be well missed.

I cannot imagine the tearing, ripping and undoing that occurs when a parent says good bye to his or her beautiful, young son or daughter for the last time.  I cannot fathom the breadth, length, height and depth   of anguish, sadness, emptiness and pain generated from that separation and loss.  I don’t know how I could possibly endure it; how anyone can endure it?

Certainly, we believe in the love of God, the resurrection from the dead and eternal life; we hope to be united again forever, clothed in immortality, with every tear wiped away, with gladness in our hearts; but in that moment of surrender to death, there is only darkness, which seems to permeate every inch of our bodies.

Only the Good Shepherd can restore our souls, but not yet, not now, maybe some day …

When we lose someone very close to us, it shakes us to the core of our beings.  We tremble knowing how fragile life is and how easily things could have turned out differently.  We cannot help but cry out why?  Why did it have to happen?  Why didn’t you protect him?  Why didn’t you do something, anything?  At some level, everything we believe and cling to is violently assaulted by the unexpected death of someone we love.

My daughter, Anna Kate sent me this text after hearing about Nick, pleading:

Why do things like this happen?  How are we supposed to understand this?  How am I supposed to go about life and let Emmett out of my sight?  I don’t understand!

Good questions.  Anna Kate is asking the questions that are on all of our minds:  does the Father really love us?  does he really protect us from harm?  can we count on him to guard the lives of those we love?  is his right hand strong enough to hold us?

I replied to Anna Kate’s text with the following:

With courage, not dread of the foe, with fear of God and continual prayer, with love poured out and none held back, with faith and hope, expressed in thanksgiving for everything.

In times of darkness, when our faith is tested, we need to cling to the Lord in prayer.  He gives us so much when we go to him, especially when our hearts are laid bare and cut open by the circumstances of life.

We need to nourish our faith on the Word of God and remind ourselves of who he is and who we are in him.

We need to remember that he formed our inward parts, put us together in our mothers’ wombs and that he numbered our days.  He doesn’t make mistakes; he doesn’t fall asleep on the job and he never says whoops.

That “[p]recious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.  (Psalm 116:15)

Love really is stronger than death. (Song of Songs 8:6)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39)

Our hearts are too small.  Love expands them.  We need love, so much more love.  Love poured in and love poured out.

“For love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:7)

Sometimes, living is very hard.  Secret things do belong to the Lord and there are so many things we do not and cannot understand.  (See Deuteronomy 29:29)

For now we see as in a mirror dimly, but one day we will see him face to face.  Now we know in part, but one day we will understand fully. (See 1 Corinthians 13:12)

Until then, I pray for Nick’s family, and for each of us, that

he may grant [us] to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith; that [we], being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to understand with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with the fulness of God.  (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Our home is in heaven, and from heaven we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.  (Philippians 3:20-21)

Nevertheless, in the meantime, we reign in this life through Christ (Romans 5:17); though like him we rule in the midst of our enemies.  (Psalm 110:2)  But it will not always be so.  Some day we will reign with him in heaven and we will rejoice with him as our heads are lifted up in songs of victory over all of our enemies.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  (1 Corinthians 15:26)


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  1. Well said brother. Their are tragedies that we can never fathom. I’m consoled by the knowledge that one day He will wipe away every tear.

  2. mark McBride says:

    Good job Mark, brought me to tears!

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