Today at my church gathering called “Collide”, several people got baptized. I love baptisms; there is something special about someone proclaiming God’s testimony in their lives and their public declaration of their commitment to follow Christ. This baptism was particularly moving to me.
Among others, Rose Stevens was baptized tonight. I don’t mean to diminish the others who made public commitments to Christ today, but I was moved because of how God has moved especially in Rose’s life. Rose Stevens lost her brother Graham one year ago today (March 26th). Graham died at the young age of 19, he had just started his freshman year at Wheaton College, and his death was sudden and painful. Rose told her story about how she began to know Jesus. Graham was 6, two years older than Rose, and Rose described riding home from church one day when she was 4. Graham would not stop talking about God and how much he loved Him. Rose wanted to know this God Graham was talking about, and so she asked him how to get to know Him. Graham led Rose to Christ and prayed with her.
I’ve been blessed to be in a small group this past year with a group of young adults who are each very dear to my heart. These group of people God has brought into my life also were very close to Graham Stevens. Graham died March 26th to a heart attack kind of thing. He was a freshman at Wheaton College and his death was incredibly sudden. He was playing Capture the Flag with the Glee Club boys and collapsed. I didn’t know Graham well at all, but I know people who knew him deeply.
Watching and hearing Rose’s story was painful. It was hard to see the people in my small group around me suffering, I was physically feeling their pain inside of my heart. But I also struggled. I attended Graham’s funeral in the same sanctuary she was being baptized in. I remember celebrating his life with an overflow of people who gathered. His life was lost one year ago today. But his life was not lost without life being gained. Not only has he gained eternal life with Christ, and no longer is suffering bound here to earth, God used him in his sister’s life. He used Graham to give Rose life. Where there is death and loss, there is greater life and blessing.
It reminds me of the cycle of death and life and how much God longs to restore us. It gives me great hope in the loss of Graham to know that our God is a God of redemption, not of death and destruction.