Many thanks to those who have been praying for Jason and I this weekend. By God’s grace we’ve made it through a couple exhausting, but good, days. And the spiritual heaviness from the enemy we were experiencing pre-trip dissipated before we left. God’s grace.
We flew into a snowy, cold Minneapolis on Friday night. I was glad for it, as it really felt like winter, like the winters growing up here in Minnesota. Jason, on the other hand, said it hurt to breathe.
We drove to Racine, just outside of Milwaukee, early Saturday morning and made it just in time for Christian’s memorial service. As we pulled into the long drive of the church there were American flags lined up on either side all the way to the front door (which was quite the long way). It was so awesome, so moving. I wish I had a picture of it, but I didn’t get the chance beforehand and it was dark when we left. But, it is a gift to have that image burned in our brains when we think of this time and of Christian.
Veterans showed up (young and old) to honor Christian by guarding the entrance of the church – also very moving. In the entryway there was a display of Christian’s military medals, photos, uniforms, motorcycle jacket and special gifts he had given Liz. And, much to Jason’s pleasure, Christian’s Big Pink t-shirt was hanging there, too. After the service when we briefly talked with Liz Jason made a point to show her he had worn his own for Christian.
The memorial service commemorated Christian’s life and pointed to Jesus. I never met Christian, but from the stories (at the service and from Jason) he was an adventurous, kind, funny, and gentle man. He was serious about his call into the military and an excellent soldier. He loved Liz and his friends and family very, very much.
His supervisor, Lt. Colonel Robert Howe, said that not many soldiers can say that they were mentored by the men beneath them. But, he could say that in many ways Christian was a mentor and brother in Christ to him. Being in the military, Jason told me later that this was quite a remarkable statement, for in the hierarchy that is the army you look up and respect those above you. That rarely goes the other way. I think that has Jason remembers Christian, he will always respect him for what his boss said.
Christian’s dad said that in the last season of Christian’s life, he could see that he was coming to really understand what it means to be under orders. This is also a concept Jason respected and understood. This was not just in his military career – above that was his orders from Jesus. This growth came as he sank into his role as a husband to Liz and a talented military officer.
Here are the Scriptures that were shared during the service:
The story of Lazarus’ death. An excerpt: “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!'” (John 11:33-36)
What Christian had been considering recently, James 1 (a snippet): “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (5-6)
The Benediction, Hebrews 13:20-21: “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, though the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
As we left the church Jason saw all the snow covering the front lawn and said “Hey, do you want to make a snow angel?” This is not unlike him. It is very unlike me – I’m not very fun. But, I get the impression Christian was great fun. So, in honor of him we jumped in, layed down and snow-angled away. It was brief, but a Holy Spirit thing.
As C.S. Lewis says, with what I imagine is a very jovial and hearty voice, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!”
So, in the meantime, here’s a merry and mournful “Cheers to Christian!”