When There Is Death

Life is a path that we walk, run and crawl.  It is a story, a tale of joy and of woe.  It is certain of very little except for death.

When we are young, the days are long and plentiful.  They are lined up in front of us as far as we can see.  We know that huge life events will take place on some of those days.  Ultimately, we know that there will be just one last day.  But when will that be…

As I’ve transitioned from youth and into the land of the 40 year olds, I am painfully aware of shorter line of days in front of me.  The urgency of life becomes much more evident as we take stock of all these days we’ve used up.

I have been thinking a lot lately about my past and in particular, my wasted days.  I don’t mean days spent in my recliner watching X-Files reruns.  I mean days gone by that I let my poor spiritual self esteem and my inadequacy color my impressions of how God sees me.  As my friend Jim said, I was binding grace because I didn’t feel I had earned it.  As if we could earn the grace and love of our creator!

I was meditating on this subject and really focusing on the fact that God’s love for me is a gift that I can do nothing to achieve.  So all the years that I felt that I must earn His love have hindered my perception of God and led me to a life of withdrawal and ineffectiveness.  The Lord wasn’t working through me as I saw him working through others.

One night some two weeks ago, I prayed and asked God to use me as He had used Larry Norman.  For those who don’t know who Larry Norman is, check out this little blog I wrote about him on my band’s website.  Larry had written a song that I posted in the blog entry before this one called “Righteous Rocker”.  The theme of the song is that “without love you ain’t nothing“.  Larry’s music always ministers to me greatly and I wish he was still with us on this planet to keep writing and playing.

I was thinking about my past and how my selfishness had harmed relationships and even tarnished some of the work the Lord had done through me.  One of the things that came to mind was my cynical attitude towards my first band, Grievance Honor.  After that band broke up, I had a lot of negativity to pour out against it.  This despite the works that the Lord did through us as we preached the gospel wherever we played.

So I decided to begin building a new website for this old band and hopefully reconnect with some of the guys.  The first guy I wanted to reconnect with is Tony, the drummer.  Tony and I haven’t spoken for probably 12+ years.  Without a doubt I owe him apologies for my attitude towards the band and himself.  I owe him apologies for my self centeredness as well.  So I went looking for him on the Internet.

While looking for Tony, I also wanted to look for Dave Gidcumb.  Dave joined Grievance Honor while he was 17 years old.  We were all about seven years older than he was and he treated me like I was his big brother.  I remember pushing him all the time to be moral and to ‘be good’.  I had lost contact with Dave shortly after the band broke up in 96/97.

But in 2005 Dave felt compelled to look me up.  He found me and we reconnected.  Dave was no longer following God and he had suffered some tough times.  He told me his first wife had passed away but he was remarried with kids.  We would hang out from time to time during that year.  He enjoyed sparring and always wanted to spar with me…  I didn’t like it and he almost broke my arm one day!  I remember picking up where I left off and trying to guide him back to the Lord as his older brother by encouraging him to ‘be good’.  I even had Pastor Don talk to him.  He knew Don from back in the day very well.  Neither of us really got through to Dave with our witnessing and as time went on, we again lost touch.

So as I searched for information on what Dave was up to, I remembered that he had started playing with a band called D-Railed here in St. Louis.  So I searched for things related to them and Dave.  I came upon an interview given by one of their members.  He mentioned that the band had gone through a very tough time in 2007 following the death of Dave ‘Wolf’ Gidcumb…  I was heartbroken…  Dave had only 31 years of days behind him.

I emailed the drummer of that band on Facebook and he wrote this back to me…

Dave “Wolf” died from a pulmonary embolism. It was a freak thing, no warning or anything. He took his family to see the Simpsons Movie at Ronnie’s Theater when it first came out for his daughter’s birthday. His wife said about half way through the movie he tensed up, looked at her, and just dropped. That was it. She is a nurse, tried to revive him, but got no response. The EMT’s pronounced him dead on the scene.

I am beyond sad to hear this.  I now realize that the Lord caused him to get in contact with me in 2005.  It was my job to let Dave see the love of Christ.  I can’t say that I did a very good job.

I may have said the right things, but did I do the right things?  Did Dave see a real living faith in me, or a man who was good at following the rules and judging others like he did in Grievance Honor.  Did Dave remember the faith he once had?  Will I see him in heaven?  Was I as obedient as I could have been…  These questions will never leave me.

I pray that I do not hesitate to share the gospel when presented with the chance going forward.  I pray that God continues to work in my heart so that I can be an effective vessel for His love and not for judgment or human efforts to earn God’s favor.  More than anything else, I pray that the Lord forgive me where I let Dave down.