Last weekend we traveled to Columbus, GA to see our son Josh's art exhibit at Columbus State University, and to celebrate his 28th birthday. Josh is an incredibly talented young man, can master anything he sets his mind to, and is a gifted artist. His exhibit filled and entire studio, yet when you first entered the studio nothing was obvious at first glance. Then, all of a sudden you began to see a remarkable sculpture that captured light, turned the entire room into an optical illusion, and simply wowed everyone who gazed upon it. Time and again we heard people ask him, "How did you come up with this?" Josh's response, "It was just there in my mind, so I decided to bring it to life." People from the art world were taken aback by the work of his hands and creativity of his mind.
Originally, his installation was to be on display for that weekend only, but once it was unveiled the Columbus University gallery director extended it as 3 week exhibit.
After the show we went to "85" - a little hole in the wall (actually a basement) and celebrated our son's birth with a group of his long time friends. The place was rocking. We were surrounded by "electric music - a solid wall of sound," as Elton John's, lyrics blared out in, Benny and the Jets. Josh's friends genuinely like us, trust us, seek us out, and lay their life and thoughts out in plain view for us to see. Never once have we gotten together and had anything less then fabulous and meaningful conversation, and downright fun with the partying crowd of twenty-somethings.
Sandy and I got back to our room at 2 a.m. They were just getting started!
In the morning we went over to the house where Josh and 2 of his friends live. Original plans were to have brunch. Plans changed, and Sandy, Josh, and I were in Josh's room listening to a new CD by John Francis. All three of us were sprawled out across his bed talking and staring up at the white ceiling with the big fan in the middle. In a moment of silence Josh said, "Dad, this was Heath's room."
Heath was a creative 25 year old, loved music, played in a band, and worked at a Christian radio station. One of those guys with a thousand friends-very popular and easy going. Like so many of us who pursue God can identify with - Heath struggled with the complexity and questions that authentic Faith brings with it. On September 7, he came home to grab some lunch and walked in on a home invader. Nobody knows exactly what happened except that the room became a battleground; the scene of a life and death struggle. The intruder had a handgun.
I sat up on the bed and Josh pointed out the bullet holes that had sprayed the room. One over the door. One at the bottom of the door. Two in the walls, and one through the bathroom wall. At some point Heath tried to get out of the house, and as he fled through the front door his aggressor fired one last shot that pierced and furrowed the top of Heath's head. Heath stumbled as far as the driveway, crumbled, and bled out. The police did say that in the battle Heath had beaten the robber nearly senseless. I know Heath had fists the size of cannon balls.
The story just gets uglier, so I will stop.
Light and Darkness . . .
Just hours before we had celebrated the gifted life of our son. His artistic creation was a light bending, spectacular work of art. Sandy and I stood back shaking our head as the glory God had hidden away in Josh came shining through. We listened to the rave reviews and thanked God for his bright future.
Then in a matter of hours I felt like I was being swallowed by darkness. A life had been snuffed out. A beautiful spirit and soul had left this world. Friends and family are still reeling from the devastation of such a senseless act. Another manifestation of the cruelty and darkness - that is never far from any of us - made its despicable presence known.
Heath's soul - as eternal as the God who gave it to him - is accounted for. There has never been any doubt about his final destination . . . Heath took the journey through a corridor veiled by death's shadows. In an instant what was once only seen by faith came into focus. What at times seemed like an illusion became a place bathed in the purest of light. Heath is so much more than any of us can really imagine. God thought him up and brought him to life! Though his life on earth was cut short, it is wildly celebrated in The Presence and on display for all eternity . . .