Life is good, despite what the end times prophets will tell you. Yes, there are wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters that we virtually experience on a level the apostle John couldn't have imagined when he wrote the Book of Revelation. But it's a beautiful world, and God said it's good!
I was 11 years old when I was left behind by my father, who dropped dead of a myocardial infarction, and probably 12 when I watched A Thief in the Night at a little Baptist church that met in a firehouse. It terrified me in a visceral way to hear that not only could my father disappear from the earth, but my mother could too, because I wasn't yet sure about the brand of Christianity that I was newly exposed to after my father's death. As a teenager, I would come home to an empty house and be gripped with fear that I had been left behind again. I don't think this kind of fear mongering translates into a healthy faith, but that's a discussion for another day.
I was 44 years old when I was left behind by my 23-year-old son who died by suicide. What parents should be a whole lot more concerned about than "end times" theology is their children's mental health. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teens and young adults and the second-leading cause of death for college students. Your child is much more likely to leave you behind because they don't know how to ask for help when they feel hopeless and depressed than they are to fly away into the sky or be left behind with the rest of humanity to endure a Great Tribulation. Depression is a great tribulation of the mind, body and spirit.
That's why I'm participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's annual Overnight Walk in New York City on June 4-5. I don't want you or anyone else to be left behind by those who don't need rapture talk to make them feel like the good world God created is hopelessly doomed. They already believe it.
Here's what my son Gabriel wrote while he was a student at Wheaton College, the jewel of evangelical higher education.
Why do I cry today?
Why do I just wanna' fly away?
Maybe it's just that
the back of my hand's black.
Flight of escape
on Aslan's back--
I'm stuck on the ground
as he flies over the sea;
I have to watch him
leave without me.
And as he fades,
he turns into a dot,
leaving me with the empty bottle
that held my
hopes and whatnot.
[© GGS 9/29/05, all rights reserved.]
I created an Overnight Walk team to counter this hopeless, disillusioned message. It's called Team Life Is Good and we have four members, one of whom I don't even know. Together we've already raised $3,880 for suicide prevention and survivor support services. My friend Anne Kohut is flying in from Oregon to walk with us. She still needs to raise $355. Gabriel's cousin Jesilyn Scheller is walking too. She needs to raise $575. If you'd like to support me, please donate to one of their accounts.
I leave you with this message of hope from our team page:
Anyone who has lived through the death of a loved one by suicide knows it can be a daily challenge to remember that life is good. Team Life Is Good was created with suicide survivors in mind. Together we want to affirm the goodness we experience each day despite having lived through something so devastating and we want to help those who are at risk for suicide to remember too that life is worth living ... despite its many challenges.
Please support us as we take this amazing journey. The Out of the Darkness Overnight Experience is a 18-mile walk over the course of one night. Net proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, funding research, education and awareness programs -- both to prevent suicide and to assist those affected by suicide.
We're walking in memory of:
Gabriel Gifford Scheller (11/27/84--3/28/08)
Tinuola Olateju ( 2/15/95--5/29/10).
We miss you ever day Gabe and your loved ones miss you just as much Tinu!
Thanks so much!