Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 16, 2012

His Story Will Continue

Reflections as we lay my brother-in-law Craig Reynolds to rest.

One of the things I enjoy most is listening to stories. We all have stories — those narratives that define and give context to our lives, that give the listener clues about our existence, frustrations, hopes, and aspirations. I’m the guy who will look at the pictures in your home and ask you to share a story about a particular one. Last month I visited with Craig and listened to more of his stories. I am thankful for that opportunity because I learned a little more about Craig and the experiences that shaped him from his childhood all the way through his military career. Among other things, I asked him to tell me the story behind the photo of him shaking hands with President Bush with Air Force One in the background. That story prompted a discussion about God’s plans and purposes among the nations, something that Craig and I often talked about on the occasions when we were able to see each other. Over the years I was privileged to hear many of Craig’s fascinating stories.

Craig was also interested in the stories of other people. He cared deeply about the men and women under his command in the Navy and also those with whom he worked in these last years of his life. Because Craig was interested in people he was also interested in listening to their stories — stories about their families as well as about their struggles, challenges, dreams, and aspirations. The insight he gleaned from listening to those stories made him a more compassionate individual who understood the value of sharing a little bit of balm or a little bit of honey with others. Balm to heal and honey to encourage.

In medias res is a Latin literary expression that means “in the middle of a story.” When you think about it, we all die in medias res — in the middle of a story, of many stories. A couple of days ago I read the last anniversary card that Craig had given to Cindie. In that card, he had written a beautiful inscription in which he expressed his gratitude for the time he had been privileged to share with Cindie. Craig’s heartfelt inscription was a summary of his love story with Cindie, what he described as the best years of his life. Craig was never unrealistic about the fact that he was going to die in the middle of his love story. In the final weeks of life every day was like a year and every hour like a day to Craig and Cindie. They cherished every moment. And as his body grew progressively weaker, Craig’s love and concern for Cindie’s welfare grew increasingly stronger. With the help of family and friends, Craig arranged for some things to be done around the house that he felt would make things a little easier for Cindie after his death. These practical expressions of his concern were among the final entries in Craig’s love story. And, just as he had hoped, Cindie was at his bedside when he drew his final breath. But although Craig died in the middle of a story, of many stories, his death does not mark the end of his story.

Knowing that something hard or difficult is going to happen, that it’s imminent, does not necessarily make it easier to accept when it finally does happen. We have known for months that Craig was in the fight of his life against cancer, and now that he is gone we feel a measure of relief that he is no longer suffering but a great deal of sadness that we will never again see him on this side of heaven. Over the past year we have done more than watch Craig battle cancer, we have been inspired by him. As the cancer advanced and gained ground, it ultimately fell short of breaching the citadel of Craig’s faith. Craig refused to surrender hope or to allow it to be taken captive by despair. Every day of the battle, the flag of Craig’s faith was still there, defiantly flapping in the breeze above the fray. Craig did not lose his battle against cancer because cancer never captured the flag. Cancer may have destroyed his health but it unwittingly strengthened his faith and revealed the depth of his commitment to Christ. This too is a part of Craig’s story and legacy of faith.

When writing to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul reminded them, “You yourselves are our letters of recommendation … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:2-3). I am among those who are a part of Craig’s story. Some of those who knew Craig have a few sentences and others a few chapters written on the tablets of their hearts as a result of their association with him. I believe that I am a better person for having known him. One day every one of us will die in medias res. When that day comes may it not mark the end of our stories, but like Craig, may we live in such a way that even our dust will continue to praise God and tell the world of His faithfulness (Ps. 30:9). And may we also leave a narrative of love and concern written on the hearts of others that will continue to be read and that will inspire others for years after we die. I will miss Craig and our conversations, but I am thankful that his story will continue to encourage and inspire those who hear it.


Responses

  1. A beautiful tribute to a very specail man. Thank you for sharing this testimony of Craig’s life and faith with us. I look forward to meeting him one day in Heaven.

  2. Peace and Blessings.

  3. That’s a great theme, ‘his story will continue’. When called on to serve families who have lost loved ones, I remind people that they can participate in the extenuation of what God has done through a life well lived. Just today I had the privilege of serving a family who was losing a matriarch that they revered as one who faithfully led them to the Lord. May Craig’s generations carry on what God has done through him so that they, even the children yet to be born, (Ps 78) will know of the Great God he served.


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