Death never seems to raise its head at opportune times. In fact, it seems to always come at the moment you least expect it. It seems that whenever I have prepared myself for death or for someone to go it never happens. Death and sickness have surrounded me much of the day.
Montana was in my youth group when I was a Youth Director at Coaling UMC in college. I married her and her husband Brian a couple years ago. It was one of the most unique weddings I have done. It was in the pasture of their farm with a huge backdrop of hay bails, saddles, and other riding instruments. She was brought to the ceremony in a horse drawn wagon. It is a great memory and they worked hard to make the wedding special and a true representation of who they are. Bryan, the groom was a typical guy who just wanted to get the wedding over and have it be as close to what his fiancée wanted as possible. He didn’t seem to care about any of it, he just wanted to be married. I never got to know him anywhere near as well as I know Montana, but I’ve liked him more and more each time I have been around him.
This morning I got a call that Montana and Bryan’s trailer caught on fire last night and he was killed before they could get him out. Montana and their 15 month old daughter Gracie were staying at his mothers. I went over there this evening to see montana and I dreaded going the whole way there. I simply don’t have the words to console or help a 22 year old widow with a 15 month old child.
I did a lot of listening rather than talking. One thing I heard over and over from her was that she is mad. She is angry that this happened and she is angry at the position she is in. To be honest, I’m angry too. Montana is a good kid that has tried hard since I have known her to get ahead. She dated some real idiots in high school and she had truly found what she wanted in Bryan and was happy with their family. I don’t blame her for being mad about it being gone. I’m mad it got taken away.
Any theologians that are in my readership can check your degrees at the door. I don’t care what you think, but sometimes it is healthy to just get pissed off at what God has allowed to happen in our lives. Sometimes things happen and the only honest response we have is anger. I rest comfortably in the fact that God loves me enough to handle my anger and rage in moments when it seems like I’m getting the short end of the stick. That doesn’t mean I don’t trust how God is working, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t think he is there, but if we are honest we have all had moments when we looked to the sky and said, “This sucks. Make it stop.” The Psalms are full of David and others telling God that they weren’t too thrilled about the ways he was reveling himself in their lives.
After leaving Montana’s I thought about it and I’ve come to the realization that I’m pretty mad at God these days as well. My Uncle John Cole is without a doubt one of the finest men that has ever walked this planet. He has been a power and an influence in my life in ways that I still don’t fully understand. He gave me my first job in his law office, taught me how to drive, and helped me figure out a lot about who I was in ways other people couldn’t have done. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease many years ago and for the last 15 years I have watched him slowly deteriorate, and to be honest about it, I’m mad. No one lived the Gospel of Christ in everyday ways like he did. I learned how to interact with the homeless and with addicts by riding around Birmingham and sitting in courtrooms with them as he represented them. Most of the time, he represented the for nothing, or for some service he let them perform more for their benefit than any other.
He is in the hospital in Birmingham and this week standing at the foot of the bed and seeing him in that condition makes me want to look to the sky and say to God in a very real way, “This sucks, and you need to find a better way to get things done than this”. If thats unfaithful, then mark me down as a sinner, but its true. I know that one day I’ll get it. One day I’ll see how God has worked through this, but I can’t see it today, and thats what makes this journey so hard.