Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Today is the Day

... In honor of ...

Justin Davis
Son, Friend, Youth, Soldier
Child of God
1987 - 2006

Yesterday, not an hour after I published my silly post about Connie, I received a heartbreaking call from the current Youth Pastor telling me that a former youth of mine, Justin, who was located in Afghanistan, had been ambushed and that he did not survive. Justin. Barely 19. Young. Full of life, with a contagious grin. His mother's only child. A beautiful young man with so much potential. God knew his plans for Justin's life. And while we mourn here, Jesus is celebrating with Justin in heaven. Way to go, Justin. I am most jealous of you, friend.

Several months ago, he was deployed to Afghanistan. He was a very young man, with a sweet, bright smile, and a wonderful personality. On his last Sunday at church, he told me he was afraid and started to tear up. I hugged him, and for some reason, I felt led to grasp his face. I said to him, "Justin, know that you are a child of God. Be sure of your relationship with Christ before you step foot on the plane to go over there. Be certain that you can always cry out to God, and that he will never, ever leave you." He assured me that that he was a Child of God. Saved. He knew God was with him, and would not leave him. He knew who he could call on. I hugged him, and prayed over him. I prayed a hedge of protection around him. I prayed that God would put a fleet of guardian angels around him. I prayed that he would always sense God's presence.

We were both misty eyed, but I knew in my heart, and still to this day feel, that Justin was where God wanted him to be. Justin was in a place that tested his faith. It required him to really believe in something he couldn't see or feel or taste. Justin had to lean on God with all he was worth. He never would have been challenged in his spiritual walk like that here. If Justin had not enlisted in the Army, I don't know what his future would have held back here, but I'm certain that if Justin had been faced with a tragic end here at home, he may not have cried out to God. Why? Because we have everything here in America. We have no need to lean on God as if our life depended on it. But in Afghanistan ... that's all you have. That, and your fellow soldiers.
As I have mentioned before, I am timid when it comes to witnessing. It is a wonder that I had the courage to talk with Justin like I did on the last day I saw him. I spent my entire lunch hour out in my car Monday praying, crying, and asking God if I had done everything I could with Justin. Did I do it right? Or did I fail him? My answer to my prayer was that I had done everything I could. I can rest easily with knowing that I will see Justin again in Heaven and we will have a major paaar-teee!

Friends, can I do the same with you? Our days are numbered... and we are, by no means, promised tomorrow. It is so important that you examine your life now. Are you right with God? Do you know Christ as your personal savior? Have you asked him to forgive you of your sins and come into your heart? Have you turned your life over to him? Now is the time, friend. Even though I haven't met you face to face, know that while I love you dearly, there is one that loves you even more than I do. His name is Jesus. And he waits for you to cry out to him. Now. Please. Don't wait until you think you have everything in order, or until you think you are the person he would want you to be. God will take you as you are. He took me as I was, and he took others as they were. You do not need to change for God before laying your life in his hands. Justin understood this. Do you?

Friend, you are a child of God. You have been called by Him. You are beautiful and precious to Him, and he has a special path for you. You.are.his.Beloved. There is nothing more special than that. And even in your midst of struggles, failures and un-"love"-liness, he still wants you. He still cries out for you. He still loves you.

How much does God love you? God loves you so much that "He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life [in heaven]. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger [judge], telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted [forgiven]; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him." (John 3:16-18 - Message)

All you need to do is believe; ask him into your heart; ask him to forgive you of your sins; and ask him to be Lord of your life. "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." (Acts 10:43 - NIV) Then -- find a good Bible believing church right away (I'd be happy to help you find one), and tell the Pastor the decision you have made. Don't be shy or embarrassed. This is a reason for celebration!

Finally, you do not need to live under the heaviness of guilt. God has forgiven you, which means ... your sin is wiped clean. It is no more. He doesn't hold it against you. He doesn't remember it. The only one who remembers it and will use it to his advantage is satan. Don't allow him to!

"As I live and breathe, God says, every knee will bow before me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God." (Romans 14:11 -Message) Won't you join me in saying that He is the only God? Won't you bow before him with me? Today is the day. Won't you join the family of God today?

"The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace -- a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies -- and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes [for mourning], messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit [guilt/despair/heaviness]. Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness" planted by God to display his glory [give them strength]. They'll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage [our lives]. They'll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new. You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields, but you'll have the title "Priests of God," honored as ministers of our God. You'll feast on the bounty of nations, you'll bask in their glory. Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt, your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever. " (Isaiah 61:1-7 - Message)

You see ... Justin's life was NOT wasted. His life and death has allowed me to feel the urgent need to share the gospel with you. Praise God for the work he has done in and through Justin.

If any one needs prayer, please let me know either in my comments or by email. Most of the regular commenters on my blog are strong, mature, seasoned Christians who would love to hear of your life-changing decision, and would love to celebrate with you, pray for you, and encourage you. You have an ARMY behind you!

Thank you for indulging me this time to share from my heart.

Information about Justin's Company/Battalion/Regiment/Unit and what is currently going on in Afghanistan:

"Chosin Few"

Justin was was a member of the A Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Unit. The 1-32 Infantry has hundreds of men stationed in the high mountains on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the soldiers spend an enormous amount of time in the field hunting down the enemy. It is difficult work, and it can be dangerous, but the soldiers are masters of the task. You can see why they need our prayers!

The 10th Mountain Division is a specially tailored infantry division that is expected to be ready to deploy by air, sea or land 96 hours after being notified of deployment orders. 10th Mountain units are currently serving in Afghanistan.

Coalition forces are hunting Taliban fighters in the largest anti-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan since 2001 [right now -- TODAY]. The anti-Taliban operation is entering it's third week in southern Afghanistan, and Southern Afghanistan will witness "significant fighting" between US-led coalition and Taliban forces for several months before NATO takes control of the region (a military spokesperson said this in an interview on Wednesday, June 21, 2006).

Justin -- We had looked forward to celebrating your homecoming return to us, but now, dear friend, we celebrate your "homegoing."

May God be with Justin's family as they make preparations for his funeral.

24 comments:

Tess said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

Oh Gibee. First of all my heart is full of pain and prayers for this mother who lost her boy. As the mother of an only child - a boy - I am speechless imagining her heartache. And yet I am so relieved for her to know of his salvation. My greatest prayer for my son is for his soul and his security with Christ. And if it took Afghanistan to do it, I would let him go even as I wept.

What an incredible, divinely appointed time you had with him. I have shivers as I think about it. Thank God you listened to him at that time. I am sure that Justin thought of those prayers you said with him.

And about your post - beautiful and inspired. I am sure it will touch many souls.

God Bless you girl. And I will be praying for Justin's family and friends.

Suzy said...

I stumbled upon your blog and was greeted by this post. How broken my heart feels for you! And how much I am reminded by this post that time is never guaranteed to any of us, and so I thank you for reaching out to all who might be reading this post. The time IS now to surrender to Him. Thank you so much for sharing the story of a remarkable young man.

Lauren said...

I can't say anything more or better for thst matter than Janice already said.

I love you; I'm prayng for his family. I am positive that Justin was blesses by knowing you. Thank you for letting us know of him.

Angie said...

GiBee, I am so sorry for this loss. But, what an awesome testimony this is. Another example to the fact that we are just passing through this 'ole nasty world. Our true home is right where Justin is today! And that is exciting for me as I am positive it is for you too!

You are going to cherish those words you shared with Justin forever, even when you guys are reunited, and what a joyous homecoming that will be my dear friend! God bless you and his family! Hugs!

kpjara said...

I'm rejoicing on Jason's HOMEGOING too, while I cannot imagine the earthly loss he is to family and friends.

Thank you for your desire to show and share with us the glory that IS Jesus Christ our Savior!

Jeana said...

Gibee, I'm so sorry! But so glad that Justin had assurance of where he stood eternally.

Heather Smith said...

GiBee, this wrenches my heart. My own brother just turned 20, so he isn't much older than Justin was, and I can't imagine a loss like that, but I know that God is with Justin's family. I know that He will wrap His arms around them and hold them close in this time of grief.
I'm so glad that Justin had a good leader like you while he was growing up. I'm glad that he knew that he could call out to God at anytime.
Mostly, I'm glad that you are using this to share Christ! Life is fleeting (the Bible says its like a vapor), and we never know what can happen in the next moment. That's why we need to KNOW who holds us in His hands!
I changed my Tuesday Toss-Up to a song that I love to sing in times of grief. Go over and check it out, and I hope it will comfort you!

Perri said...

GiBee, I wll be keeping Justin's family and all who loved him in my prayers. It was a beautiful post and I pray many lives are given over to God because of it.

RANDI said...

Gibee,

This is a beautiful post! I will be praying for Justin's family and for you during this time. God allowed you to plant seeds in this young man's life--He watered and grew the fruit. It is always enough when we follow His leading.

Queen Beth said...

My heart is full of sadness for this family. What a tragedy. So very, very sad. And while we logically should rejoice because he is with his Savior...it is still heart wrenching that this mother has lost her son.

Peach said...

GiBee, I am so proud of you!! You did exactly what God called you to do. My prayers are with you and with Justin's mama today. May his life be a testimony to many others.

Susanne said...

Gibee: I'm so sorry for your loss. Know that I will be praying for this family and for yourself, too. How awesome you had that time with him before he left. Your post was beautiful and I pray God would supernaturally lead those that are looking for Him here to read what you have written.

aggiejenn said...

May his family find comfort in the One he has gone home to. Thanks for sharing his story and the Gospel with us. Blessings and comfort, my friend.

momrn2 said...

May I quote the verse at the top of your blog... "weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Ps 30:5b

You don't know how many times that verse alone has blessed my heart when I needed it most.

We are weeping on earth with you... but when we get to heaven.. that indeed will be joy!!

I have the upmost respect and admiration for those in our armed services. To sacrifice their very lives so I can live in "American" freedom. Words can't even begin to express my gratitude.

I'll be praying for you, and for them during this time of loss!!

Stacey said...

Wow, I can't imgaine!! I will be in prayer for that family this week!!

Midlife Moments said...

With tears, I am so sorry for your loss. You sound like an amazingly amazing woman of faith and Justin was very blessed to have you to call a friend.

Thank you for this post, and for the reminder that Christs love is never failing.

Blessings to you.
Heather

shannon @ rocks in my dryer said...

GiBee, how sad. I'm sorry for your loss.

Dionna Sanchez said...

I'm really sorry for your hurting heart right now.
I'll try to get back to your email soon.

Morning Glory said...

How very, very heart-breaking. My condolences.

Faith said...

GiBee,
I can't say it any better than Janice either. So sorry for your loss and I am lifting up this mother in my prayers. I know her heart is aching with the grief and loss.
I am so thankful that you had such a sweet time with him before he left though.
Praying.

blestwithsons said...

During WWII, the Navigators- an awesome ministry working with the military - had many losses of their fine young service men. They would announce the news to each other saying, "Did you hear of ___'s promotion?"

Justin received his orders home, a permanent change of station to the best post ever. So why am I crying...

Prayers for you and his family. Thanks for writing an absolutely beautiful post.

missmellifluous said...

Through teary eyes I wish you my heartfelt condolences. How great that we can rejoice that Justin is home with Christ.

Gibee, I really appreciate the way you have shared this story. It is a powerful testimony to love, serve and witness for Jesus. I have been encouraged by your story and by your passion. It is so great that you were able to encourage Justin and pray with him before he travelled.

Praying for his family.

To think....one day there will be no more dying!

Bethany said...

Oh. I know Justin is in a better place, but I'm so sorry for you and the others who loved him. I had a friend lost in Iraq last year....so I understand.

My prayers are with you all!