Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Tragedy.

 "Travis, are you okay?"

When I get a phone call from my wife that starts out like that, I know there won't be good news in the conversation. Especially if it sounds like she's been crying. However, nothing could have prepared me for the words after my reply.

"I'm fine babe, what's going on?"

"Travis, Kambrin has been in a car wreck."

"Travis...she's dead."

I only know one Kambrin. A last name wasn't necessary.

"Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth,
would care to know my name, would care to know my hurt."

It certainly wasn't the first time I'd heard Kambrin sing. But it was the first time where the lyrics of a song she had sang moved me the way that it did. The song is by a band called Casting Crowns, and Kambrin did it justice. I remember crying, and asking myself why in the world God cared about me at all. But this isn't about me or what I felt or when. This is about a seventeen year old girl, taken from this world too soon, and how God can be glorified by it.

"I am, a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow..."

When a young person dies, it leaves a lot of people confused, hurt, and a lot of times, angry. They get upset about the unfairness of it all, and they start to ask questions about why it happened. Those questions rarely get answered. You can look to the Bible and see that God has everything laid out in a perfect plan, but the main issue folks have with that is that they aren't properly filled in on that divine plan. That's when the anger sets in, which quickly turns to bitterness, which can ultimately lead to hatred. In order to stop that chain of events, there has to be something that fills that disconnect between the plans we had for a person, and the plans God had for a person.

"A wave tossed in the ocean...vapor in the wind." 

Kambrin knew Jesus. We all know that. If we all try really hard, we can even push all the negative out of our minds and turn her into some sort of angelic personality, someone without blemish, who lived a perfect life and had no problems whatsoever. And yet, all of us realize that isn't true. Kambrin was a normal teenage girl. I listened to her own mother talk tonight about how none of us had ever truly lived a perfect day. The part we need to focus on is that Kambrin, right now, is sitting in heaven with Jesus. She cashed in on that promise we have in our salvation. We are absolutely guaranteed that heaven is way cooler than anything on this earth. So why do we want her to be back here with us so badly?

"Still, you hear me when I'm calling..."

We as humans are selfish creatures. It's been a part of our nature since the Garden, and it will remain a part of our nature until the end of the earth. Even with the knowledge that Kambrin is now with the Author of our Salvation, we still wish we could hug her, talk to her, laugh with her, or just sit with her one last time. So ask yourself this question? Would you pull her out of heaven for that? What do you think she would want, right now? I've known Kambrin for literally her entire life, and I think I can speak to what she'd want. She'd want people to turn to Jesus in all of this. She'd want to know that her life...her death, and everything in between led people closer to the Lord, because that is a sure fire way for her to get to see you again. We have been assured that Kambrin did not suffer. Death was instantaneous, which means that in less than the time it takes you to read this word, Kambrin was in the presence of our Lord and Savior, filled with a new understanding and knowledge about everything she'd ever had a question about.

"Lord you catch me when I'm falling." 

Romans 14:8 says this: "If we live, it's to honor the Lord. And if we die, it's to honor the Lord. So whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord." I've seen videos posted on Facebook of Kambrin singing "I Can Only Imagine" at SYATP. It's obvious that Kambrin lived to honor the Lord. But can we have faith enough in God to believe that even in death, Kambrin was honoring the Lord? Having that faith is instrumental to us dealing with the hurt we feel now, the hurt we'll feel on Monday, and the hurt we'll feel in a month when her fellow seniors walk across the stage without her. In her death, she will honor the Lord. The Lord will have his glory. Amen.

"And you've told me who I am..."

I spoke with her mom the night of the accident. She was in the midst of hundreds of people, packed into the Okay First Baptist Church parking lot, each one there united with the other, family, friends, students from school, faculty, administration, and many others. Lorena grabbed my arm and looked me in the eye and said, "Travis, I really want you to pray that this doesn't hit the ground without God being glorified." In that moment, spirit sodden with grief, she spoke about the peace she had. How many of us were at peace in that parking lot? How many of us were concerned with God being glorified? And so that's what I'm going to do now. I'm going to make sure that you readers understand how, in the end, God can be glorified in the midst of such immense tragedy and pain.

"I am yours. I am yours."

We are His. Kambrin is His. And so, life will go on. Ultimately, the world will not stop in remembrance of Kambrin, not even for a moment, even though we all think it should. The seconds will tick indisputably towards tomorrow, and then towards the day after. And maybe you've read this and you wonder how I'm so certain that I'll see Kambrin again in heaven one day. Maybe you want that assurance too. I'm here to tell you, you can have it as easily as she did, as easily as I got it. All it takes is the recognition that you're a sinner, and separated from God because of that sin. Then you have to believe that Our Loving God, upon recognition of our separation, sent the ultimate sacrifice to earth for us in the form of His Son, Jesus. You have to believe that Jesus lived a flawless life and was brutally murdered on a cross as a payment for all of our sins. And lastly, you have to accept that gift of salvation, knowing there is nothing in this world you could ever do to earn it. Then...tell someone else about it. And just like that...God will be glorified in Kambrin's death.

My thoughts, prayers, condolences, and deepest sympathies go out to the Dennis family. My thoughts and prayers are also with Kambrin's friends, her senior class, her fellow students at Okay Public Schools, and the faculty and administration as they try to encourage and counsel the students during this time of tragedy and loss.

In closing, if you have something you'd like to say about Kambrin, feel free to share it in the comment section down below. If you are an outside reader with no knowledge of Okay except for those funny Christmas videos I post once a year, I'd ask that you take the time to share an encouraging word to the home town folks that read this. Family, friends, students, etc., you can post whatever you want to anonymously, without having to create any sort of account or worrying about someone identifying you. If you want to leave your name, that's fine too. I love each and every one of you, and always remember, The Lord will take us through this.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

Kambrin Sophie Grace Dennis
5/2/94 - 4/17/12
You are His.