A few months ago I had a decision to make. Nothing major. Nothing notable. Just a quick, simple, thumbs up or down decision that ended up taking me weeks to decide – the decision to renew the domain “The Elijah Effect”. Big deal, right? I know.
To this day, I am still not completely certain why I was so hesitant to drop $13 on a site renewal.
Part of it has to be the obvious – it’s not very fun to share your thoughts to the world wide web on a site that is attributed to your son that has passed away.
Part of it has to be the insecurity – who needs another blog for the masses to ignore or a post to thumb past on a social media timeline?
Part of it is the reality – most of the previous posts on here seem like they were written a life-time ago, and I am not sure I even recognize that guy who seemed so spiritually sound through a very difficult part of his life.
But, here I am. At 12:30am on a Thursday morning, I am typing once again. In spite of my feelings, insecurities, and doubts, I can’t help but be reminded that to this day this little blog, which was originally created to just update some family and friends of our medical journey with Elijah, has now been viewed in 84 different countries. And now, being 364 days from saying goodbye to our Superhero, I also can’t help but think that maybe somebody out there could stumble upon this blog once again and be impacted by The Elijah Effect.
A lot of people are going through difficult situations in this broken/messed up/hurting world. And maybe, just maybe, a post of ours could make an impact on somebody like it had before.
So…Here. We. Go.
I’m a youth pastor. I love what I do. I can honestly say that I am living out my dream. But, because I am a guy who gets the opportunity to speak to teenagers about God on a continual basis, every once in a while there comes that moment in a sermon where I seem to be preaching and everybody in the room is listening but one person. It’s not the junior high boy who is trying to impress the girls around him with his constant texting, joking, insecure cry for attention. It’s not the high school girl who has sat through countless messages and already knows where the message is headed just by the scripture reference that is projected on the screens in the auditorium.
The one person who is honestly not soaking in the challenge from the preacher is:
The preacher. Me. Chris Davis. Pastor Chris. @thechrisdavis.
I can find myself preaching a message, while the whole time thinking, “Man, I hope these students grasp this,” when I haven’t even fully grasped the truths that are blaring through the sound system.
Hypocritical? Maybe. Honest? Absolutely.
We (our team of pastors and leaders) have been encouraging our students with a promise found in Romans 8. It states it this way in the New Living Translation:
Romans 8:37 No, despite all these things (read verse 35), overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Overwhelming victory is ours because the love that Jesus Christ has for us.
It’s not a narrow victory. It’s not a close call. There’s no booth review or need for instant replay.
It’s evident. It’s obvious. It is overwhelming victory.
For me, that is a fun one to preach. There is nothing better than informing a bunch of teenagers that God is so crazy in love with them that He promises them overwhelming victory.
Do I believe it? Definitely. Do I receive it? Not so much.
See, we had to say goodbye to our son almost a year ago today. Since then, I’ve read a lot, prayed a lot, cried a lot, spoke a lot, seen a lot, been through a lot. And through it all, I am still really heartbroken and sad.
All we have left of our son are pictures, a few little videos, and the memories that we try to guard and save.
No matter where I go or what I do, I always feel like there is a part of me that is missing. There is a part of me that will never be back, fixed, or replaced.
And, truth be told, I like it that way.
I don’t ever want anything or anybody to take Elijah’s place in my heart.
So much so that I find myself at times being guarded, depressed, doubting, and fearful. And deep down I have almost convinced myself that if I were to move past these deep rooted emotions then I have allowed other things to take Elijah’s place in my heart.
So, where does the Romans 8 reference come into the scene? Because of God’s unimaginable, inescapable, unexplainable love for me (read verse 38 and 39 of Romans at the bottom of this post to see for yourself), I can have overwhelming victory over this seemingly overwhelming sadness and sorrow.
I don’t have to be fearful of starting another day – a day that just takes me one step farther from our last day with Elijah.
I don’t have to doubt that God can see me through this lonely, painful season, just as He has done multiple times already.
I don’t have to battle waves of depression on my own; God hasn’t abandoned me to my own and isn’t just waiting for me to catch up to him on the other side.
I don’t have to guard myself from the possibilities of experiencing more pleasures and pains in my lifetime.
So, then, have I allowed other things to take Elijah’s place in my heart?
Yes. The truth of God’s unbelievable love for me is slowly taking that place.
It’s unbelievable to think that Elijah left this earth a year ago.
It’s unbelievable to think that this is our story.
People ask us every once in a while to share our journey.
The best way I can describe it all: unbelievable.
The incredible amount of emotions I’ve experienced: unbelievable.
The realities of life that I have learned by 30 years of age: unbelievable.
The turmoil and pain we have gone through: unbelievable.
The amount of tears we have shed: unbelievable.
The impact made on so many lives by the story of one little boy’s journey: unbelievable.
The opportunities we have had to tell our story: unbelievable.
The promise of overwhelming victory in all of this: unbelievable.
The amount of God’s love for all of us: unbelievable.