Can you grieve the loss of someone you never met?

I think I can. For some time now, I have followed the journal of a young church planter in Ohio, Mark Palmer. I find now, at his passing, that I am far from alone.

His writings, his walk with Christ, his very life here on this earth left (and will continue to leave) footprints on my soul and those of countless others.

I first came upon his journal through Apex, a community of house churches here in the valley. Mark and his son Micah lost their wife and mother to stomach cancer in 2003. As Mark began to heal, it became apparent that God had sent Amy to them, to be wife to Mark and Mother to Micah.

Now, it seems that God gave them Amy to be Mother to Micah, and to tell him how much his Father and First Mother loved him. Last night, I went back and read Mark's journal from the beginning. I am awed by his strength and his faith. Throughout Jennifer's cancer and later his own, his character humbles me.

I admit to a longing for the community he has. I also recognize that what holds me back from such community is self. Maybe that can be my lesson learned from Palmer.

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