Fifteen years

15 years ago today, I was a freshman in college. It was very cold in Blacksburg and I was just arriving back at my dorm when I received a phone call. My mom had waited to call me after I finished taking some sort of math quiz.

My fingers fumbled with opening the door to my dorm – it was cold and I was in shock. I turned the corner down my hall and like it was in slow motion, all of the books and papers in my arms fell to the floor. I cried out and my roommate must have known. She flung the door to our room open and sat with me as I slumped in the middle of the hall in a messy pile of books and paper and hot tears. I cried – big, heavy, weighted sobs – right there in the middle of the hall.

I had lost someone very special to me. I was feeling my heart break right then and there and the pain was so real, I could feel it. It wasn’t just my grief splintering my heart though, I was feeling grief for one of my best friends because it was his dad who died that cold December day.

I have so many stories I could share about Mr. Scott, but I think quite possibly my favorite memory of him was the morning I felt so alone and oh so shy in Sunday School at church. I looked about as awkward as I felt, as middle school often does to a person, and my social game was weak and awkward too. I could barely bring myself to walk into church I was so shy, but Mr. Scott always greeted me with a warm smile and led me by the hand to a seat next to someone sunny and sweet. This particular morning, he led me right down to the front while the music played and everyone sang, and sat with me the whole service. He chose me – a shy, awkward, nerdy middle schooler – to sit next to, when he had a hundred friends he could have chosen instead.

Week after week, he showed me Christ’s love and through the years became a role model to me that I’ll always cherish. I went on vacation with his family more than once, and I even called him before I called my parents when I got into my first car accident. He paid for every chicken tender and fry I ever ate when I went with his family for dinner. He loved his wife easily and tenderly and set a great example for his children. He was hardworking and thorough, firm but kind. He had a winning smile, the most generous spirit, and a heart of gold.

That day in December 15 years ago, I felt like the cold was creeping in around the edges of my heart. Like I was angry that someone so gentle and so good could be taken from me, from us. I wrestled with my grief for months, and years later I realized that God had shown favor to His child by removing him from the heartache of this life – the broken world we live in – and rewarded his faithfulness with eternity at the throne of Jesus. I pictured the moment when God looked at Randy and said “well done my good and faithful servant, well done. You loved so well and I’m so proud of you.”

He was too good not to remember, so today I thought of him all day long, and cried a little and smiled a little, thinking about jus how wonderful he was. I vowed to be like Mr. Scott – to honor his life with a continuation of his ministry – so when we planted a church years ago and I stepped into my role as a pastors wife, I modeled my actions after his. If my ministry ends up anything like his, then 15 years from now, maybe someone else will be talking about how I changed their life.

His are big shoes to fill but I think there is an army of people made better because of him and determined to model Christ’s love like he did. I’m certain I won’t ever forget the chill of that December day, or the gentle man who I call my hero.