Y’all, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. The Buckner family has experienced sorrow that’s unimaginable to most of us. They watched their son/brother who’s struggled with addiction lose the battle on earth.
The extended family watched a mother plead for healing for her child. We prayed for her as she let him go. As a mother, no matter how old your child, part of you always sees and remembers the baby he was, recalls the precious and tender moments of that babyhood.
I woke up this morning, the day of Blake Buckner’s funeral, with dread in the pit of my stomach. I knew today was going to be nearly impossibly hard for Jan and Barry, Bree, Ben and Brandi. My prayer for peace and comfort for them has been an almost-constant chant the past few days, and I know others have been doing the same. I can say without a doubt, they felt all those prayers. Those prayers are part of the reason they could stand up today and not fall down in despair.
Even though they grieved, the Buckner family’s faith in Jesus was evident to everyone today. I’ve never been so proud of kids (I know you’re not kids, but in my mind’s eye you’re the toddlers in the photos flashing on the screen during the video.) Brandi, Ben and Bree, you were amazing, so amazing, standing up to pay tribute to your brother. You celebrated him in a way you know he would have loved. You described him using words like charismatic, funny, brilliant and with phrases like “lighting up a room,” and “commanding attention.” You painted a truly glowing picture of your brother.
Barry, as you read the words of the text Blake’s friend sent you, the thing that caught my attention the most was that the boy who wrote them had said to his mother as a kindergartner, “I made a friend!” Every person has felt unsure and nervous about that at some point in life, maybe most especially at the beginning of school, but that’s what Blake did. He made friends. He made you laugh. He made an impression.
But the thing he made that was most important was a profession of faith. Just as we were reminded today, putting your faith in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection secures your eternity with Him, but it doesn’t guarantee your life will be easy. More than once in the service, the word addiction was mentioned. But as Bree said, the enemy didn’t win. Though they didn’t get the miracle of Blake’s healing in this world, he did NOT lose the ultimate battle, for he is with Jesus right now: no more suffering, no more struggle and no more fear.
I was filled with pride when I heard my brother’s eulogy today. He is an anointed man of God and I had every confidence in him, but I had been praying for him nearly non-stop too, because I knew this particular funeral service would be so terribly difficult. He honored Blake by acknowledging his addiction but assuring us that his faith was absolutely real.
Chad said that sometimes a star isn’t even burning anymore, but we still see its light. That light is still making its way to us. Even thought Blake isn’t here, he left a bright light behind. I pray that light spurs us all forward in our Christian walk: to be more loving; to give our time and money freely to help those in need; to serve with glad hearts. Especially that. I’ll always remember Blake as someone who did everything with a glad heart.
I will remember a fair-haired baby cousin who looked like his grandfather, who delighted me with a sweet gap-toothed grin. I’ll remember the kid in the picture who always made the crazy face. I’ll remember a smiling young uncle adoring his nephews and niece. But most of all, I’ll remember that Blake was a Christian – just like me: I'm an imperfect Christian who struggles daily with all kinds of sorrows and fears; battles with the enemy; fights depression and anxiety with God’s help and medication. We’re all broken in some way. We’re not promised an easy life - in fact, the Bible says in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." . Some people may not win the battle here. But just like Blake, if you put your trust in Jesus, your victory is assured.
Jan-Jan, Barry, Bree, Ben and Brandi, I love you all so dearly. I’ll continue to pray for you. I’m overwhelmed and inspired by your faith. May you feel the light of Blake’s love in your hearts until you meet him again.