March 20 is a special day in our family's history--it's the day in 1970 that my brother Dan was born, and the day in 2003 that he died and went home to be with Jesus. Dan lived 33 years exactly and finished his race well, trusting the Lord, finding peace and joy as he surrendered his own hopes and desires for his life to Him.
I have written previously about Dan's life, reflecting on how my big brother influenced me. In the years since his death, my mom had a video professionally done using some of the family home movies as well as footage from Dan's funeral. Tonight, we watched that video again as a family.
It was surprising to me how deeply the movie affected me tonight. I cried--a lot. It was hard to see those images of Dan, the healthy and happy ones because they were bittersweet, and the ones where he was so sick because they were just plain hard. Though it's been eight years since his death, watching the movie again made me realize how much I still miss him. There is still a loss because of our current separation--he in heaven, I still plodding along in this fallen world. I imagine that sense of loss is even greater for my parents, who never imagined outliving their oldest son, and my brother Mark, who lost his older brother whom he looked up to so much.
But through it all runs the thread of Jesus' love. His deep, deep love, that washes over us, that protects and sustains us, that gives us hope for the future. Dan is now experiencing that love perfectly, deeply, fully, and is basking in the worship of his Savior.
And the question that Dan earnestly sought the answer to remains a question in my heart: Do I fully trust my heavenly Father enough to surrender it ALL to Him? All? If trial, sickness, or death be mine, can I still surrender to His perfect will and find the joy and peace that He promises?
By God's grace, Dan's life answered that question with an overwhelming "YES!" May my life do the same.