The irony is not lost on me . . . that I was walking out of a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my mind still echoing with the message that God can bring good out of even the worst circumstances. The play was extremely well-done, and I was making my way towards the ticket booth, to see if by chance they might have any seats left for the evening performance.
And then there was a text message on my phone. Three simple words that changed a snowy-but-leisurely Saturday into a time of grief. “Bob Reed died”. With an annoying level of predictability, I began down the “denial” phase of grief. But it wasn’t denial in that I truly didn’t believe it could be true; rather, it was that everything within me didn’t WANT to believe that it was true. Not again, God . . . not again. I have a list of people whose death would be of much greater benefit to humanity than this man’s . . . please? Can I give you that list? Can you reconsider this one?
And then I reluctantly remind myself that Bob got the “good” end of this deal . . . in the presence of Jesus, whose “Well done, good and faithful servant” surely must ring out a little louder than it does for most. From Middleville, MI (yeah, I still don’t even know where that is) to the Madison neighborhood, to Liberia, then to Ghana, Bob (along with his amazing wife Renita and their two kids, Hannah and Noah) followed Jesus wherever He asked them to go. And Bob, with his heartbreakingly witty writing, brought us along with them on the journey.
From Michigan to Monrovia and beyond, many tears and prayers are going up today . . . and in my little corner of the world, I withdraw to my home and my bed, wanting to be alone with the immensity of it all, but at the same time wanting to connect with others who understand what a huge loss this is.
As the Reeds left Liberia and prepared to move on to Ghana, Bob wrote an entry that included (in his inimitable style) these words:
Since this is not “goodbye,” but simply “HEY! We’re usually over THERE now!” I’ll spare us all the tear-jerking.
Oh Bob . . . I know that you are “over THERE now” . . . in that place where there is no more crying, no more grief, no more pain . . . but our leaden feet are left behind in this place where there IS still crying, and grief, and pain, and so much work left to be done. That God took you, who was in the midst of the work He had called you to, leaves me asking myself what God is calling *me* to do while I’m still on this earth.
I pray that your legacy will lead many, many others to follow Jesus whereever He asks them to go . . .