Anniversary Dates Are Milestones
A wedding anniversary is a joyful occasion and every ten-year anniversary is even more special, Lori and I recently celebrated forty. I will tell you, it has been a happy forty years, indeed. However, there are anniversaries we mark that are sad. They are the dates that mark the loss of loved ones, Lori’s dad, my mom, the date our daughter was in a crash that took her best friend. Those anniversaries have a huge impact on us, but they need not be dates we anticipate with dread. Those dates can serve as mile markers to remind us of two things. First, it means that the pain of our loss will be a little more bearable than last year, but more importantly, for the righteous, it means we are one year closer to seeing our loved one again.
For our family and friends who share our loss living in faraway places, we are blessed to share anniversary dates over the phone and more recently on the internet. Of course, that only makes us miss the surviving people we love even more. Last night I lost a good deal of sleep time, talking via Facebook to my dear friend from childhood JoCheryl Holcomb, who as you recall, lost her brother and my friend Bryan, along with his wife and seven family members in the Sutherland Springs shooting. You see, next week will be the one-year anniversary date of the shooting at the First Baptist Church. While I share in the pain of losing my friends Bryan and Carla, their kids and grandkids, I cannot imagine losing nine family members to such a senseless tragedy. I wish Lori and I could be there with her, but JoCheryl lives in Santa Monica, California – over a thousand miles away. However, I assured her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her and thousands of family friends and perfect Christian strangers before the throne of God in prayer. We pray for healing, not just for the Holcombes, but for Pastor Palmeroy and his family in the loss of their fourteen-year-old daughter as well, as everyone who lost people they love that day.
A preacher I love to hear named, Jim McGuiggan, said something that I will never forget: “If we didn’t have the assurance of an eternal life in Heaven, we could never justify the time we spend away from the people we love.”
I also talk a lot on the phone, to my cousin Stephen Willeford, who has been dubbed the Hero of Sutherland Springs. He has become a frequent speaker at Churches across the country with his message of faith and trust in God. He is a good man and his message is a breath of fresh air. It is literally like listening to David in the Bible talk about protecting his sheep, or God’s people.
He has been the subject of a lot of articles as the anniversary date approaches. Most notably he is the subject of the most comprehensive article I have read to date about the shooting. It appears in the Texas Monthly and is called, “The Hero of the Sutherland Springs Shooting Is Still Reckoning with What Happened that Day” by Michael J. Mooney. The most poignant thing about the article is the respect with which the writer treats Stephen’s story, especially his faith in God. I suggest you buy a copy and read it or go to texasmonthly.com and read it there.