As I write this, my heart is sad. We just got news that one of our veteran friends, Kent, passed away yesterday. I feel badly for his wife and family. My dad passed away thirteen days before Christmas 33 years ago, and I remember how hard that year was. When Gene, the Pointman Outpost leader, visited with Kent last week, Kent assured Gene that he knew he was going to a better place and was alright with it. His concern was for his wife. A few days ago when Gene visited, Kent was unable to talk due to the pain meds, and so Gene left, not sure Kent even recognized him. After Gene said “goodbye” and walked down the hallway, Kent called to Gene in a strong voice “Gene, wait!”. When Gene returned, he said, “when are we going to go home?”. Gene reassured him that they would be home together soon.
Today, on Christmas Eve, I pray that no matter your circumstances, you may experience joy, not just any joy, but pure joy…the kind mentioned in the first chapter of James. It’s one thing to read this verse during a quiet time, but a difficult thing to apply it in times when trials or grief overwhelm us.
I know that on my own strength, I don’t have this kind of joy…the kind that pushes past circumstances and lands at simple trust in Jesus. The good news of Christmas is that God sent us his Son and later his Holy Sprit to live within us and produce the fruit of joy deep in our soul so that, just like Kent…we look past our earthly home to our heavenly one.
In Pointman, we make to a point to welcome home our veterans. This year Kent Reeves entered into heaven and received the best “Welcome Home” ever!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Blessed is the one who preservers under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-3, 12 (NIV)