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Finding The Best in The Worst Year Ever

Jake Stacks, News Editor

This year of pain began with lots of tears, and ended with one.

I had never heard true weeping before. I had never heard my dad cry, actually, much less wail. His heart was breaking, and his whiskers were rubbing the tears between our cheeks. I remember the whiskers. He had answered the door at 3 a.m. with a pistol and had shut it with the worst news we had ever received. The police had come to notify the next of kin. My uncle had killed himself on top of a Reno, Nevada parking garage.

True weeping.

Fast forward maybe a month. My great uncle Horace was just that: great. We stood over his bed and said goodbye with our guitars. We sang “I Can Only Imagine.” Pretty soon after, Jesus called him home to heaven, and he didn’t have to imagine anymore.

I’m in China now, on a summer mission trip. My back is pressed against the wall, and the facetime is loading, and there, all of a sudden, my family is on the other end, smiling and crying. Pawpaw, my buddy, my mentor, my grandpa, had finally succumbed to cancer and was home with Horace and Jesus. It was July 9 in Asia. It was July 8 in Texas. It was still my birthday.

My mom lost her dad. My uncle lost his birth dad. My dad lost another mentor at church. These three don’t have a specific image in my head.

But number seven does.

It’s my dad. Lying in a hospital bed, tubes coming out of pretty much everywhere. I keep rubbing his whiskers because I want to remember them rubbing across my cheek. His heart rate is dropping, and we know this is it. It’s ok. We love you so much. You were such a great dad, a great husband, a great man. We love you. It’s ok. Jesus has us, don’t be afraid. We know you’re proud, and we love you.

A single tear. He heard us. He’s home.

Worst. Year. Ever.

But in all of this pain, I’m finding something. Peace. The Bible says God is near to the brokenhearted, and I get to experience that first hand. Jesus is so close and so sweet. I know that someday all of this pain will just melt away. I’ll feel Dad’s whiskers again, I’ll hear Horace belt Amazing Grace or Momma Tried, and I’ll laugh at Pawpaw’s corny jokes. And together, we’ll all get to sing praise to the God of the universe.

But my job here isn’t done.

All of this death has revealed the preciousness of a lifetime. I only get a short time to serve, and impact, and love people for Jesus. My job, no matter the cost, is to bring this story to everyone. My story, my family’s, is not a story of loss. It’s a story of the greatest gain. We found that treasure in the field, and now we’ve got to do anything we can to share it. It’s worth everything.

So, my encouragement is simply this. Don’t live for this life, because it’s fleeting and painful and doesn’t satisfy. Look to Jesus, look to the Cross, and find the life that makes this one worth living.

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About the Writer
Jake Stacks, News Editor

Jesus. That's pretty much it.


15 Responses to “Finding The Best in The Worst Year Ever”

  1. rebekah on February 28th, 2018 5:33 pm

    I’m crying this story is so good

  2. Donna Seidmeyer on February 28th, 2018 6:24 pm

    You are definitely right … Your job here is not done. You have been given a divine job of sharing your story with others who are suffering the same pain as you and tell them of he treasure you found, the cross of Jesus and God’s love. You have the ability for God to change lives thru your pain. God bless you. It will be interesting to see what plan God has for your life.

  3. Diana Daw on February 28th, 2018 8:14 pm

    Wow! I am so very impressed with your faith & your words. I lost my daddy to cancer almost 4 years ago & not a day goes by that I don’t think of him & miss him. The one thing that has gotten me through is knowing Jesus an knowing that my dad knew Him also. I often love to tell people what my dad said while he was sick, “I am in a win, win situation”. We will see our loved ones again. Praying for healing & peace for you.

  4. Sandy Potts on February 28th, 2018 10:27 pm

    I’m going to share your story with my middle school students in our after-school Bible study and with my teenage grandchildren. It will be such an encouragement to all of them. Thank you SO much for sharing from your heart! Hugs and prayers from a former teacher in Arlington ISD and now a middle school
    AVID tutor in Crowley!

  5. Jonathon osterloh on February 28th, 2018 10:44 pm

    Love this, I can truly feel that god has your heart man. Very sorry for your losses. I’ll have you in my prayers.

  6. Coach Melson on March 1st, 2018 5:45 am

    Awesome…thanks for sharing, Jake!

  7. Beverly Ballew on March 1st, 2018 7:04 am

    You, young man are such an inspiration. We here at Mertens Baptist church love your family very much. In your grief you continue to bless us in your emotional words.
    Praying right now for your family.

    In Christ,
    Beverly Ballew

  8. Donna Prince on March 1st, 2018 7:35 am

    Wow, what a great servant of God. Understanding beyond your years like this could only come from a direct connection with THE supernatural power of God! Thanks for sharing your heart!

  9. Christa Nguyen on March 1st, 2018 7:54 am

    You are Blessed
    You are a Blessing!
    You are right on track and wise beyond your years.

  10. Sharon Coe on March 1st, 2018 8:43 am

    Jake you are wise beyond your years. I am so impressed with the young man you have become. God is in every part of your life. He doesn’t sit on a shelf waiting for you . He dwells inside of you in all that you do . It is so awesome to witness a young man who TRULY lives for HIM. Your dad was a GREAT MAN and he raised a GREAT YOUNG MAN OF GOD. Russell and I love your family so much and we can’t wait to see the direction God takes you. We love you all !

  11. Craig Pritchett on March 1st, 2018 11:00 am

    Awesome. Your dad would be proud.

  12. Vickie Black on March 1st, 2018 1:26 pm

    I love this-you are a gifted writer and expressed your feelings so beautifully. You, your mother Garland, and Gwen are such a blessing to me and my family. The smiles, the hugs and the prayers show me your love for Jesus! Keep telling your story-be faithful and true-Let others see Jesus in you!

  13. Rudy on March 1st, 2018 9:34 pm

    Beauty through the pain. Such a powerful testimony of God’s grace and peace. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Kenya on March 1st, 2018 10:42 pm

    Hi Jake,
    You have truly inspired, uplifted and redirected me tonight. I work with your aunt/cousin (?) In Lancaster, TX. And i too have experienced so much family loss. Some days I struggle to push through. But your peace and your faith exude God’s light. I thank you and I’m thanking Him!

  15. Steve Hardin on March 2nd, 2018 9:27 am

    Hey Jake,
    Your Dad and I have often talked about our families. I would share about some of the struggles my children and grandchildren were going through and he would joiin me for a time of intercessory prayer. Then he would talk about YOU…. He would tell me how GOD had blessed him with you for a son….how he didn’t know what he had done to deserve that blessing.. but I think I know…. He was a great man, and though I am a generation older than he, I looked UP to him ….! He was quick to show the love of Jesus to those in need of encouragement, and he was a true friend..! You honor this great man, and as I pray that GOD will protect your steps and your future, I remember and honor your Dad’s legacy. God Bless you….!!!

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