It’s been one year since my dear friend, Micah Stinchfield, passed away unexpectedly while swimming in the school pool. I remember exactly where I was when I heard. I remember being numb for almost 12 hours before the shocking news finally brought forth tears. I remember crying through almost every class for a week. I remember kind words, tight hugs, and compassionate prayers from friends, pastors, professors. I remember promise after promise from Scripture that the Lord brought to mind in the moments when I was desperately searching for hope and comfort.
When I was 20, I was hit hard with the truth that ‘invincible’ is not a reality. I learned that someone I loved could one day be hiding out in a practice room to surprise me and the next day be taken from this world without even a hug good-bye. I realized the terror of our frail, uncertain existence. But I was also given the gift of experiencing for the very first time the comfort of the guaranteed hope, security, and peace that can only be found in Christ.
I had been taught for so long the importance of having my identity wrapped up in eternity and in the promise of Salvation that can only come by grace through faith in Christ alone. I was told over and over again that everything we try to find our security in can be taken away by death, sin, and suffering, unless our hope is in Christ. I knew that. I understood. But on January 26th, 2013, I experienced it. In the moments of darkness and despair, I began to grasp more fully the reality of an eternity that is secure in Christ, a promise that stands when everything else is taken away, and a peace and joy that abides throughout all circumstances.
As I look back with joy on Micah’s life and the time I had to know him, many things come to mind. He always had something sweet to say, he never stopped smiling, and he was always making music. He always remembered prayer requests that I had shared and would take the time to ask about them. He always went out of his way to encourage, to share his joy, and to reflect the glory of his Savior. I still don’t go through a single day without thinking of him. Sometimes the memories are all sweetness, and sometimes the sorrow is still fresh. But always I must smile, realizing that he lived to reflect eternity and is now there, united with Christ and experiencing what we can only look forward to with great joy and confident expectation.
Each and every day I praise God for Micah’s life, for the joy that he shared and for the eternal hope that defined him. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry, but always I remember what my friend taught me about eternity. Come what may, my hope is sure, my future is secure in Christ, and the day is coming when I, with Micah and all the other saints that have gone before, will at last be united with Christ, when “God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18