A few days ago, a friend of mine named Craig Simmons was hit by a bus while walking home from work in South Korea, where he and his wife Kristin (married less than one year) were teaching English. He was in very critical condition when he arrived at the hospital, with severe damage to the right side of his brain and chest. He seemed to get a little bit better every day until yesterday, when things took a turn for the worst. His wife Kirstin was with him yesterday evening (our time) when he passed away. Kaitlyn and I stood by the edge of lake Erie (which looks like an ocean) yesterday after getting the news and just mourned for our friend and brother and for the young widow that he leaves behind. I am studying Philippians 1 in order to preach from that passage in August, and Philippians 1:21 came to mind: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I have to believe that it’s true. Yet the pain which surrounds that gain is still real, excruciating, and ugly.
I ask you to hold Kristin and their families up in prayer through this unspeakably difficult time. What a painful and unwelcome reminder of the uncertainty of life, the mystery of God’s providence, and the need to cherish each day as a gift. I think Craig had a good grasp of this. On June 8th, the day before he was hit by that bus – in other words – his last full day of consciousness, he wrote on his facebook: “One of the best days I’ve had.” Thank you, Lord, for giving Craig such a damn good day. And thank you, that every day now for him is a million times better than June 8th, as he is now perfected in grace and beholding Your face.
I don’t really know what else to say right now. I’m weeping as I read what some of the most important people in his live are leaving as final words on his facebook wall:
Charlie McCordic: Craig, we spent so many hours together – in class, my office, at our house, the golf course, and even in Chad. It was a privilege to be your advisor, and even more, to be your friend. You thought I had an influence on you, what a challenge and blessing you were for me! Being in on a wonderful romance, premarital counseling, and then celebrating your wedding was such a joy – those are sweet lifetime memories for us.
Haniel Davy: Looks like we’re gonna have to hold off that celebratory steak for a little while brother… looking forward to the Great Reunion!!
I had the privilege of seeing Craig grow downward in humility, wisdom, and faith every year that I knew him. He was a raw, joyful, brilliant man; with depth of soul, depth of laughter, and love in his heart for God and those around him. At 26 he was way too young to die.
I’ll just close with some touching words that Denise Spencer wrote about the recent untimely passing of her husband, Michael:
In that moment I realized that the hardness of Michael’s death was a reminder that it is not supposed to be this way. Ever read the first three chapters of Genesis? Man was created for life, not death. But we live in a fallen world, and the cherubim still guard the tree of life with white-hot swords. Our only hope is a Redeemer who has conquered death itself and has risen as he said. He will deliver us to a new world, a world where “there shall be no more curse,” for “… on either side of the river [is] the tree of life…”