Where am I today, five and a half years since Mike’s death?

March 8, 2015

Over the past months, I have been trying to make sense of where I am today, five and a half years on from that life altering event. My difficulty is that I have been afraid that what I say may both hurt my family and not be understood. So my blog has remained untouched, but I want to start again processing my thoughts through writing.

Today I want to grapple with a topic that in many ways is so hurtful and yet it’s a verse from the scriptures!

I don’t know about you but I have heard, read and had it said to me “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Rm8:28 For 20+ years I have grappled to understand this verse. I find it one of the most hurtful things to say when there has been tragedy! It makes my blood boil, but why?

Some years ago when I was studying business, I came across the word synergy “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects”. This was a great help at that time to be more at peace with this verse. Individually, an event can be bad, but combined with other events, the sum total can be good! Of course we are talking here about spiritual good. I just could not accept that a rape, murder, death of a loved one etc could be “good” as I listened to some well-meaning but annoying person come out with “And we know that all things……………” Are you crazy? Do you not have an ounce of compassion in your soul? Have you never experienced pain of loss or rejection? These are the type of thoughts I would quietly hold.

I am a huge fan on the topic of narrative or story. I love to ask the question, what is the narrative here? That can be a question for an individual, family, community, and nation. If you want to understand the culture and behavior of Carlisle, you have to look at the story. A city that is on the boarder of England and Scotland, a city that has been invaded and ruled for short periods by non-English. Once you dig into the narrative, you can see the longer term effects that has had on the formation of current culture.

So what has that to do with this verse?

There are four parts to God’s story, Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. We are in the 3rd part of the story, redemption. Simply put, God through Jesus has made a way to deal with our wrong and bring us back into relationship with Himself. This is the redemptive story. Mike’s death, someone else’s horrible story only make’s sense, when it is placed within the redemptive story. Outside of that, it remains a terrible event. But when we look at it within the context of the redemptive story, well it changes everything. I witnessed the other week two sisters being baptized as a sign of their relationship with Father God, on the one year death anniversary of their amazing Godly mother. Their mom suffered from MS for many years and was wheel chair bound. “BAD”. But she loved Jesus and had a wonderful active walk with her Saviour. Her life and death had a huge impact on these ladies and God used it within the Redemptive Story to bring these daughters into beautiful reconciliation with Himself.

We have seen God take Mike’s story and use it in ways we could never imagine for “GOOD”, even good in my, Kathy, Akila and Laura’s character. I can only see that now after 5 1/2 years. We only see the “good” as we look back. There is no “good” in the storm!

So I have moved on from accepting this verse in the context of “Synergy”. Today, I can accept that God can take something so horrible, so painful, so bewildering and use it to continue writing His Story, The Redemptive Story. I would still plead with my friends to not speak this verse to people who are going through a hard time. Just love them and be quiet and let God be God and pray He can use a bad situation for good as He continues writing His Redemptive Story. Then years later or as time has passed, look at the narrative and yes join me and say with tears running down “Nothing but good has come from Mike’s death”

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July 31, 2014
He is alive! Sun rise Aug 1st 2014 Inchon, Sth Korea

He is alive! Sun rise Aug 1st 2014 Inchon, Sth Korea

A beginning starts with an end. On this 5th anniversary of Mike’s death I wake early before the sun rise here in Inchon, South Korea with the word’s “He’s alive, He’s alive, I’m forgiven Heaven’s gates are open wide”

John 20

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 And they *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She *said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in [a]Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). 17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

How important it is to have a body to bury as a part of the process of dealing with grief. There is something special about a person’s body to the family, to those who loved the person, especially mum, dad, brothers and sisters. It’s a time of utter confusion, pain, disbelief, loss, end, death, anger…. I know how Mary found comfort in coming to the place where her son was laid to rest. But to the find the body has disappeared would be horrendous. “Who has defiled my son’s body? How can they do this? I am already in such pain and now they put more on me”

In her pain and tears and grief, Mary see’s a gardener, but that is not who He is. Who do I see in my grief, pain and confusion? What is so loving is Jesus is not indignant to Mary, the one who has just done the unthinkable, doesn’t have an attitude of ego, He says one word and it’s her name, He does not say, “I am Jesus.” Oh my giddy aunt, Jesus say’s Mark, Kathy, Akila, Laura today as he did 5 years ago. That’s all I need and like Mary, I no longer see a gardener but I can say “I have seen the Lord”

Jesus is still in the business of revelation today and calling us by name. When was the last time you heard Him call your name? He loves us and died for us. So today, I rise early on Logos Hope, a name that is both Greek and English. Logos = the living word, Jesus. Hope = a sure confidence, not an aspiration. So my confidence is in Jesus. Mike’s beginning started with an end, death proceeds life. So today, as we in Korea and the girls in England thank God for Mike’s life and celebrate his new beginning, we also thank God for Jesus conquering death and just saying our names. That’s enough for me!


Headline News Just In……Death Penalty has been reprieved

March 24, 2014

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, was caught trying to bring $2.4 million worth of cocaine  into Bali, only for the judge to impose a death sentence. Sandiford, 57, was sentenced to death in January and has  lost two appeals against the decision. The prosecutor was asking for a 15 year prison sentence.

I heard this morning that the death penalty to all humanity, the consequences of our wrong doing has been reprieved by the judge if we take up His offer! He also said that He knew and understood that this was not based on a change of our behaviour, that like Sandiford, we would continue to “smuggle drugs” but it was based on His Son taking our place. He asked that we simply receive this free gift. Romans 6 “Sin pays its servants: the wage is death. But God gives to those who serve him: his free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is such awesome news. What is mind blowing is that He has not pushed for a 15 year life sentence but to be free to enjoy the wide open spaces of His Grace.


What do I consider treasure and what do I do with my treasure?

October 22, 2013

What do I consider treasure? Is this just in the physical or can it also be in the abstract? I realised that “Mike was my treasure and he has gone on ahead”. Over the past couple of years I have contemplated about life events that are “mile stones” and I ask myself the question whether they define me or ruin me, whether I can use them for a greater purpose or whether they paralyze me. Whether I see them as “bags of gold” and use them to invest or do I just bury them and neither see multiplication or addition.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

As a family we have decided to give our story, our pain, our weakness, our ordinary to Father God and ask Him to use it for His Kingdom. I wonder at times how God can use a simple ordinary family who live in a simple ordinary house in a simple ordinary road. But we have story after story how God has taken our little treasure and given us opportunity for multiplication and addition.

I want to encourage others with their stories and treasures to not be paralyzed by grief and pain but with tears and confusion see what Father God can do when we come to Him and ask Him to use our treasure for His Kingdom.  What gives me such a buzz is to see the way God uses what I consider treasure and use it to help others. What I consider gold, others consider to be worthless, I have seen God take the worthless and make it priceless! Go on get that treasure out!

Read the rest of this entry »


God’s Greatness, God’s Goodness

September 16, 2012

As I was driving Richard to a meeting he was telling Kathy and I a bit of his spiritual journey. He talked about God’s FITness program. What God had done For him, In him and Through him. When it came to the For him part he talked about experiencing God’s Greatness, seeing the power of God’s arm.

Colourful friends, George and Richard at Mysterious?

Since Mike’s death, I have read Job several times and it is becoming one of my favorite books. For 37 chapters we have the depressive dialogue with Job’s three friends. All pontificating about why “bad things happen to good people”. They have all the answers! Then in chapter 38, God steps into the scene and tells Job and his friends all about his creation, in other words we see God’s greatness and he questions how mere mortals can have all the answers.

Richard asked the question to God, ” I know you are great and I know you are good, but when have you been good to me?”. Richard had seen the strong arm of God but he wanted to experience the loving heart of God.  What I like about scripture is that it demonstrates God is not afraid of our waffle and babbling! He just like’s honest chat, even if we are wrong! But then we see God’s goodness to Job, its says “God bless Job’s later life more than his earlier life”.  Job says, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you”.

We as a family can say that in the eye of the storm, we have seen both the greatness and goodness of God. Mysterious? was a beautiful example of that. I like Job have been blessed with beautiful daughters. I am a millionaire on a lemonade budget!


Mike, this is an awesome day!

February 5, 2012

Kathy was cleaning Mike’s room and found a teddy in his wardrobe whilst hanging up the many clothes. Thinking he had brought it as a Christmas present for one of his sisters she mentioned her find to him. He said it wasn’t for them and now to her embarrassment she thought it may have been for her! Mike worked in the kitchen at McDonald’s where he befriended Kim. She once shared she was having difficulties with her boy friend. Mike seeing over the weeks how sad she was brought the teddy for her. One evening he stuffed it in his back pack and announced he was meeting Kim at KFC. When Kathy tried to understand his actions he simply said ‘I just want to make her happy”. Kim to him was a girl, just like his sisters. He was thrilled when she agreed to come along to the youth mid week Bible study. Mike knew Kim could find peace in a relationship with God.

As the paramedics were in with Mike, I stood outside his bedroom knowing he had died for some hours, I stamped on the ground, crying out to God in pain and said, “If something eternal does not come from this then I will be very angry, I want to see salvation come as a result”.

In the weeks that followed I heard that Kim had come to the burial service. I wrote some comments about Mike and Kim on my blog and to my surprise Kim contacted me to tell me she was the girl from McDonald Mike had befriended. Until that point I did not know her name. Well to cut a long story short, Kim continued on the path of discovery of peace with God.  Kim has become a friend of the family and has told us that Mike would but Kutless CD’s under her bag in the staff locker room. Mike was too shy to give it to her personally.

Today Kim  is getting baptised at Mike’s church, a demonstration of spiritual death and resurrection. John 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

God has been gracious and is showing me this answer to my prayer that horrible morning. I continue to pray for “many seeds”.

I forgot to visit Mike’s grave on his 21st B’day but I have this strong desire to visit him with the girls today and just thank God for his simple life and how God can use us when we are obedient.

Mike, this is an awesome day!


I did not think to visit you on your birthday!

January 21, 2012

Our behaviour demonstrates values, emotions, goals, our view on life…..I am very surprised, not saddened, that I did not think to visit Mike at the grave yard two days ago on his 21st birthday. What does that say about where I am at with the loss of my buddy?

I have read extensively over the past 2 1/2 years on loss, grief and shattered dreams. Some writing I found helpful and could relate and other I either disagreed or did not experience the same emotions or perspective of the writer. Two people I particular warm to is Bob Sorge and Larry Crab. Both these men have had life changing dramatic events that has taken the faith they had, the so called “happiness” they experienced, smashed the dreams and aspirations they pursued and caused them to sit in the chair like me and struggle to find a compass that is not spinning.

BUT like me, they have experienced something we never knew we could have, we did not know what we did not know. God has taken our “happiness” and used sadness and loss to give us “Joy”. Now this is the mystery and I struggle to explain myself. As I read Bob Sorge’s writings, I sat there saying “Yes, Yes, Yes, that is exactly it, I know precisely what you are saying”. Why did I not think to visit Mike? I woke that morning, sat in Mike’s room and enjoyed reading about the life of Moses and the Children of Israel and then headed into the park to walk , think and  listening to a song by Darlene Zschech “Love You So Much” There are times when the emotional and spiritual connect in such a way that I experience a joy what defies the logic of my circumstances. As I sung along to this song, expressing the words as a prayer of heart desire and thankfulness to God, that Mike was celebrating his 21st in the presence of God. I enjoyed surmising and having some lateral thinking that he was as proficient as anyone could be at playing the guitar and with his friends was so enjoying the freedom that comes from seeing the Father’s face that not only was he doing the most amazing praise jamming possible with his guitar but he was also making uninhibited dancing with his mates who were laughing at his extravagant joy! Mean while, back on earth in the park, I watched the sun’s rays shoot up from behind a cloud and with much joy worshipping God in the full knowledge that like Mike, one day I too will no longer see dimly, no longer will His face be behind the cloud, but I will see Him face to face, I will know Him in full as I am known in full. Through the pain and the loss, I have discovered a treasure. God has revealed Himself to me in a way I had not previously experienced. Today I do not walk on cloud 9, I experience all the normal human emotions, I am not the same person I was 2 1/2 years ago, the dreams and aspirations I had have been replaced, I have experienced God in a way that will change the way I live for the rest of my days on earth. Mike’s birthday was more about God than it was about Mike. As Kathy said, “It was an ordinary day”, I would agree on the physical, but on the spiritual, I cherish my little secret!


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