6 days ago, on my 33rd birthday, the funeral for one of my best friends from high school took place.
As somebody said after I told them of Paul’s passing, “that’s 2 now.” Two friends that have at one time or another were my “best” friend have died.
The first was Chad in college. We’d been roommates for semester and friends for only a year-and-a-half or so when he fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into oncoming traffic. He passed about a week later having never regained consciousness. Carrie and I still stop in to see his parents every once in a while. It was hard, but it was one of the times where the assurances of the Scriptures were comforting. For me at least there was sorrow over a friend that I missed, it was washed away by the light of hope and joy.
On Saturday the 3rd of August, just over 2 weeks ago now, a member of our church family died. I didn’t know him well, but his mom is in the small group that we host at our house and he’d become a staple at least in our Sundays. The events surrounding his death are being kept private, but suffice it to say it was a new one for me â€” I’ve never known anyone who died in that particular manner before. From conversations that were had with members of our church there’s good reason to have hope as well, though I regret that I never really interacted with him.
Paul’s death, on the other hand, leaves no regret.
Mostly just questions.
At the end of our lives, I believe that there are two options: with Jesus and without Jesus. Call them what you want, but the people that have walked willingly with Jesus go with him; those who have resisted him will be allowed to go away from him.
Paul and I spent many hours in high school together. This is a portion of what I posted about him on Facebook:
We were in marching band together, in another band together. We rode our bikes all around Harborcreek. Stole things from the big box stores on upper Peach together which allowed us to play a lot of role playing games. We swam in the lake, trekked up and down streams, camped out, started fires, threw rocks at trains. We talked about the Bible and God. We smoked and sneaked into liquor cabinets. We had crushes on and dated some of the same girls. We laughed, we fought and after high school we didn’t talk much.
Neither was really the bad or good influence in our shenanigans. We formed a Christian hardcore band that we both ended up getting kicked out of.
I remember him calling me out on doing something that the Scriptures clearly condemned once. He was reading them and learning them and applying them.
Yet, I know that his most recent “Religious Views” category on Facebook was “agnostic,” which seems to deny what he once believed. Currently, it’s not showing up as anything. He posted the picture and comment on the right as well.
The last time we interacted, I believe that God told me to relay something to him very specific.
I did. I sent the message.
“I miss you and always love you”
I got no reply.
Really, as of August 7 when his heart stopped, I have no idea what he believed.
I have no idea what happened as the his pain faded along with his consciousness. I have met missionaries who started following Christ because of visions they had while taking narcotics. If that, why not a something like that for Paul?
Crucifixion is mind-altering. The pain. The countering endorphins. The dehydration and exposure and loss of blood. If that may have helped one of the thieves crucified with Jesus, why not something like that for Paul?
I don’t know what happened to his mind and his heart. That’s true really for the past 15 years in general, but 11 days ago particularly. So, I can pray for the past right? If I believe that God is sovereign over time, and over the future” why not the past? I’m not asking him to change something that I know happened. I’m asking him to do something that I can’t know if he did or did not.
I wonder if I’ll ever stop praying for Paul.
I don’t really regret how things turned out, life is the way it is. But I’ve missed him sometimes, and I’m sad that I he won’t be one of the faces that I’ll see randomly in Erie any more. I’m devastated for his 3 little boys. I’m sad for his mom, his sisters and his dad. I’m sad for his girlfriend.
I hope to God that I’ll see you again some day, brother. I’ll miss you Paul.
I miss you. And always love you.
That one is from me.