D.L. Moody, the great 19th century evangelist, said: “One day you will open the paper and read that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t you believe it! In that day I will be more alive than I have ever been before… I was born of the flesh in 1837, I was born of the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever.” Since that is true for the believer, one year ago today my friend, Christopher Laurie, became more alive than ever before when his earthly life ended and he entered into the presence of the Lord.
The entire month of July my heart has grown increasingly heavy as the 24th approached because of what I knew it would bring back by way of pain and sorrow for his family. I remember vividly hearing the news, on that thursday morning, and it was so hard. I couldn’t believe it. The first thing I said when I got the call was, “that’s not true.” How could it be? I had been texting and emailing back and forth the night before…It seemed impossible. It’s not everyday that you meet someone and instantly like just everything about them, but that was how I felt about Christopher. He had a very unique style, an amazing sense of design, was genuine, had a great sense of humor and a very distinct laugh that I sometimes catch traces of when Jonathan LOL’s. Since Christopher and I both had young families I looked forward to our friendship growing as we both were new to fatherhood. But more than anything I began to feel sick and crushed when I thought of his mom and dad, wife and brother, and his baby girls. The sorrow I felt at “losing” a friend was and is compounded at the size of the vacuum I knew his departure left in their lives.
God has been faithful to uphold them through this year and I have marveled at how they haven’t retreated but advanced their ministry while mourning. Greg has preached more boldly than ever, Cathe has been right there supporting and praying, Brittany has counseled new believers at the crusades and Jonathan has shared his testimony, starting at freshlife, and then at churches and crusades all over the nation. They have also started a new Bible study in Orange County, that I just spoke at and it is awesome. As a family they are all involved in it on different levels and God is using it powerfully. They have chosen to think more highly of others than themselves. I have heard Greg say that his love for this world has diminished and his desire for heaven has intensified through all this. I would agree, and in the last 365 days, I don’t think a single one has ended where I haven’t thought of Christopher and wondered what he was experiencing and prayed for his fam. I know Topher is with Jesus, face to face, in a place where there is no suffering, and no sickness, and no sin. I smile when I think of his family getting to see him there. I believe that if he can see them now he is stoked on how they haven’t sat around feeling sorry but the way they miss him has fueled their mission for Jesus to be made famous.
(here is a pic of Topher’s oldest daughter, Stella and my oldest daughter Alivia that he took in Montana 20 days before he went to heaven.)
Christopher’s death has impacted me more than any encounter with death has, in my life, up until this point. I type this somewhere above California, on a plane, and it just occurred to me, thinking back on this year, how profoundly true that is. I am a pastor, and have been around a lot of death. I couldn’t begin to count the amount of times I have stood looking at caskets in church, and prayed with families in hospitals after a loved one had died in hospital rooms. But this was different. It changed me. And more than ever before it has fueled my desire to understand heaven, to run for heaven, to live for heaven, to populate heaven. I also know that this will not be the last significant encounter with death that I will have because, until Jesus returns, every single person I know will one day die, including me. Keeping this in mind affects the way I interact with people, the way I end conversations with people that I love, the way I hug my kids, the way I text-message friends, the way I kiss my wife and the way I preach the gospel. As it’s been said, Only one short life and it will soon be past–only what’s done for Christ will last. And until I stand before Christ myself, and am more alive than ever before, Topher is apart of the great cloud of witnesses that I picture cheering me on to run this race with endurance, urging me to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.