There is most certainly the stuff of wonder intricately woven within the stuff of astonishing tragedy. Never has this truth been more clear to me than in this past week.
On Sunday, October 30, 2005, Kyle Lake died a good death. Kyle, who is pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco and a burgeoning author, was considered by hundreds to be an inspiring preacher, a loving husband and father, an energetic athlete and friend, a mentor, counselor, and wonderful example of someone who knew how to live life well.
I would have become Kyle’s friend next year. We had spent an hour or so one afternoon talking about the possibility of me going into a mentorship under him – this is part of the degree plan I follow at Truett. I am interested in college ministry as it relates to the local church, and felt Kyle would be a great choice for a guide in such things. Over coffee one afternoon in late June, we shared with one another our views on ministry and the calling of a Christian – I found him to be insightful and intelligent and very, very fun. I looked forward to getting to know him better.
As I sat in the funeral service last Tuesday and listened to friends and family recount humorous and poignant stories of his life, I lamented that I did not have the chance to get to know Kyle better. Some might offer that this is a good thing, because I don’t have to go through as severe a devastation at the loss. My response to that would be, Never exchange a relationship for an escape from experiencing pain – that is a tragic trade.
Kyle died a good death. He was electrocuted while preparing to perform the sacrament of baptism. It was terrible and heartrending, and it came at the most devastating time (he was only 33!), but it was a good death. There is no better way for him to have left his church than in the act of bringing someone into the Church. Seeing it one way, his life indeed came full circle. He is a testimony to us all, an example of a true minister of God.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing was not Kyle’s sudden death, but what was shared at his funeral – the conclusion to what would be the last sermon Kyle would ever write. It is a closing statement like no other. In the word of my friend, Janalee, it is truly “divine.” I humbly use this blog now as an opportunity to share Kyle’s last words with all of you.
Live. And Live Well.
BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now.
On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.
If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool Autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE.
Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.
If you bike, pedal HARD … and if you crash then crash well.
Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done … a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed.
If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year old’s nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex didn’t catch it all … because soon he’ll be wiping his own.
If you’’ve recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And Grieve well.
At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke. And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven. And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life. Because-it-is-most-definitely-a-Gift.
I will miss you, Kyle. Someday soon I will indeed become your friend.