Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I can still remember his last breath, watching his chest heave and then relax. I can remember thinking for the previous 10, that was his last. But then, another breath would follow. And then they stopped. The loss of my father was a game changer.
For the previous 37 years of my life, I would consider myself a winner. I mean, I experienced defeat in sports and in relationships and some of the more trivial things in life. But for the most part, I could pretty much consider my life a success. So much so that, as I reflect, I really had no significant need for Christ in my life. Sure, I was a Christian. I went to church on Sunday. I even prayed at meal time. So far as depending on Christ, not so much. I was pretty sure I could do anything I set my mind to and often believed I did have a cape to go with the attitude. Until the passing of my father, I had never truly experienced a meaningful loss.
The game changed in relatively short period of time. One loss lead to another, that lead to another and another. I can succinctly remember thinking to myself amidst the chaos and turmoil of my new life, "can't I just get a win here, Lord." It was during this time that I turned to Christ because I was all out of answers, energy and life. I prayed to our Lord to save me; save me from myself, this world and all the pain I was suffering. I knew that things would be better now with Christ in my life. I knew Jesus would step in and pull me from the raging river of turmoil, loss and pain that I was stuck. Instead, he gave me a paddle, which looking back, was the greatest gift I've ever received.
I'd always read that character is built in times of struggle, turmoil and loss. And to some extent, I would agree. I believe, however, that while character is built during hard times, it requires the love of Jesus to chisel and forge that new man or woman from the old. While I know the earthly loss of my father was a blow, I also know that Jesus said He would be with us to the end of the age. To me, this means that in the end, I will always be a winner because of Him. I praise and thank God today for his unending, undying and unlimited love for me.