It’s been about two and a half weeks since our sweet Zekey passed away. I think about him every day, almost all day. But when I think of him now, I don’t usually remember the sweet, mischievous little guy running our house in Westerville. Nor do I think of the sickly little boy bedridden at my parents’ house in Toledo. No, when I think of Zeke now, I see a tall, handsome young man with tons of dark hair, big brown eyes, and a big smile on his face. I see him standing in front of me, without seizing, without twitching. He is ready to talk to me. We’re about to have our first conversation.
This is Zeke as he is now, in heaven with Jesus awaiting his resurrection. He is whole. He is healthy. He is untainted by that damnable disease.
Although Zeke’s life was short, and he was sick for almost half of it, he has left a profound impression on this world. If you’re reading this, then it probably means that his life and death have moved you in unexpected and unlikely ways. I believe that this is God calling you.
Zeke’s life and death have tremendous meaning because God has been redeeming them by bringing many people to himself. Stories have been trickling in of the impact that his life has had on people, and as his dad, nothing could be more meaningful to me than that. I want you to meet Jesus because of Zeke. I want you to hear, through his life, the voice of Jesus calling to you, “Come to me.”
What lies before you is a choice: a choice to either continue on the safe journey of life as you’ve always done it, or to enter a new path, one that is risky and dangerous, where you sometimes can’t always see what lies ahead. If you choose to live as you always have – living for yourself, gratifying your own sinful desires, ignoring God – then Zeke’s life and death ultimately have no eternal meaning for you. And if my son’s death doesn’t help you to see the futility of living for yourself, then no words of mine will convince you. But if you choose to take the dangerous path, the path where Jesus treads, then I assure you that you will find, as Zeke already has, new and everlasting life.
It is neither safe nor familiar where Jesus treads, but it is good and life-giving. It is, in my estimation, the only worthwhile way to live. I have been following Jesus for almost 30 years, and I can tell you just how difficult this journey can be. But in the darkest of times, I know that I am never alone, because he is always with me.
If you’re ready to choose the path where Jesus treads, this is what you must do:
1. Confess the truth of the Gospel – that Jesus died for your sins (this means that you also have to admit that you have sins), that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day.
2. Declare that Jesus is the world’s true king, that he is, as the Bible says, “Lord.” This means that he is also your one true king, and that he has full say over your life.
3. Commit to walk with Jesus in the company of other believers. This means that you need to be committed to a local church – to show up, to worship, to grow, to love, to serve. If you live in or near Toledo, we would love for you to join us at Grace Church.
What you don’t have to do is get yourself all cleaned up first. God will make you clean. God will heal you. You can’t do that before you come home to him, and neither can he do it until you come home to him. So please, just come home.
Zeke’s life is ultimately a demonstration of the profound love and presence of God in the deepest heartache. My wife and I are here to testify to that truth. We want, more than anything, for you to come to Jesus through the story of our son. We hope that you, too, will someday see Zeke as he is right now, and have the opportunity to tell him, “Thanks for helping me come home to Jesus.”