Tuesday, December 13, 2011

restoration and the promise of heaven.

Today was gloomy and cold. The air was heavy and everyone was slowly shuffling around. It was foggy and unclear and there was no way out but through. Yet it was also breathtakingly beautiful.

All I could think about was how the day represented the hearts of so many people across Arizona. Hearts that were grieving the loss of a friend, leader, mentor, husband, and father yet rejoicing in the fact that they were blessed enough to have a man like that in their lives and praising God for restoration in heaven.

Troy Gray passed away last night after battling cancer that he was unexpectedly diagnosed with this summer. He was 29 years old. He leaves behind his wife, Kelly and two precious kids, Garrison and Aven. Troy was also the YoungLife area director for Tempe, Arizona and his love for Christ was evident to the many lives he impacted through this ministry

I personally was impacted by Troy in so many ways. He spoke at a winter camp my senior year that further guided me in my walk with Christ. His ridiculous skits and program characters have had me laughing to tears. He spoke two summers ago at Lost Canyon when I was there with the kids I lead. I have never seen so much life change in the lives of teens as I did that week. I remember sitting with a cabin of girls and asking them what they loved about the week and what they were going to take home with them. Every single one of them mentioned Troy. They mentioned how he talked about Jesus in a way that they could understand and made the gospel real to them. They talked about how his humor showed all the joy he had in his heart. They talked about how the husband he was to his wife makes them not want to settle and wait for the man that God has waiting for them. They talked about how the father he was showed them a glimpse of how God the father loves and protects them. My eyes fill with tears as I write this and as I think about the void he leaves behind.

Seeing all of the posts on Troys page and on my news feed not only showed me how loved and cherished this man was, but reminded me of why I love the ministry of YoungLife so much. I cannot express how blessed I am to be a part of this community. A community that is there through the peaks and the pits of life, a community that will fall to their knees and pray for each other at any given time, a community that mourns the loss of a truly great person while celebrating the life he lived and legacy he left behind. 

I have never seen such a large group of people come together and rally as much as I have seen in our YL community these past couple of months. Some of these people have known Troy for years, some do not know him personally, yet we all come together to lift up a family that means so much to this community.

I was talking with friends last night about how it is times like these, when our little human brains cannot fathom the will of God, that we want to be angry with him. How can this be part of Gods plan, his perfect plan? How can a mother being left to raise two kids that will never get to grow up with their father be a perfect plan? How can something as horrible as cancer be a perfect plan? In times like these I just have to praise God and believe that He has it under control, believe that He will use this for good.

Throughout my life I have seen cancer take a hold of so many lives. I have seen loved ones literally fight for their lives. I have lost my best friend, my grandmother to cancer 4 years ago and still feel a void in my life that has yet to be filled. I have seen many family members fight it, and some have come out winning. I have seen it affect friends and Younglife kids. When the most amazing junior leader I have ever met lost her mother to cancer a month ago I was stuck in a place with God where all I could do was ask why. There is a little girl on my heart that is battling this horrible disease right now and I just want to scream at the top of my lungs that it is not fair!

But cancer does not win, death does not win, satan does not win.

Hearts are feeling a void today. The brokenness and hurt are felt as we mourn the loss of such a great individual. But there is beauty, so much beauty.

Troy is in heaven completely restored and free of disease. He is with a loving father that just could not wait any longer to be reunited with his good and faithful servant. And believe me... he would not want to trade places with any of us. We have yet to experience eternity so we sit here mourning when we should be rejoicing. Troy is not bound by the chains of this world anymore.

As I sit here tonight I am filled with a thankful heart. Thank God for defeating the grave, thank God for eternity without the disease and brokenness of this world, thank God for restoration. I know that Troy is resting with Christ tonight, that his big booming voice is causing belly aching laughter through out heaven and that he is looking down on his precious family tonight as they celebrate his life.

Thank you God for the promise of heaven, and the community of YoungLife that you have so graciously given me. I will never be the same.