“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34
God’s Life Coach
It was November of 1986. My family and I were getting ready to enter the holiday season to enjoy the glorious splendor of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. However, I learned a tough lesson of how life circumstances change quickly. From Thanksgiving day until the following January of 1987, I experienced the grief of dealing with four deaths.
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, my good friend’s wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl-their second child. The baby girl was healthy, yet the mother not so. Just a few days later on Thanksgiving Day, this vibrant young mother died from several complications – at the age of 27 years old.
Skip ahead – The day after Christmas 1986 I lost a great aunt who watched over me on numerous occasions. Then in January 1987, I lost a grandmother whose home had always been the place for family Christmas celebrations.
However, the loss that would forever change my life occurred on December 6, 1986. My father, who less than two years earlier was found to have cancer, had been adjusting to chemotherapy treatments. I was at Florida State University working on a graduate degree when I got the news my father had taken a turn for the worse. Unfortunately, on December 6 my father left this earth at the very young age of 48 years old. The next couple of days for me all seemed extremely strange and unreal. How could the most important man in my life all of a sudden not be around? My life support, guidance, mentor, and most importantly, my father was gone! Unless you have been through the death of a close family member, it is difficult to describe the sadness and flush of emotions. I remember thinking how it seemed my world had just come to an end, but the world kept moving forward.
The day after my father died, while surrounded by family, we were all experiencing deep gloominess. Then someone comes to our front door and I quickly realize it is my former college tennis coach. (I had graduated four years earlier.) Coach sat and talked with all of us, and before we knew it, we were all laughing. I cannot begin to measure the warmth and happiness that suddenly came over us. After my coach left, my stepmother looked at me and said, “How did he do that? How did he make us feel better?” I marveled at how my former tennis coach could walk into a house of despair and simply clear the air. I am certain, God sent this angel to let us know we would all be OK. That became a seminal moment in my life.
While I had never really been a shy person, I learned in that present moment how God can work through people to make others feel better during the most difficult times in their lives. One of my life’s goals became, during difficult moments in others’ lives, to emulate what God’s angel showed me how to do. If I can be somewhat helpful to others as my coach was on that day, to God be the glory.
– Kevin Burke