As we get ready to meet and serve so many families, what a joy it is to see and spend time with so many wonderful people on this amazing team. Everything we do well happens because of great teamwork, and that is true of these coming days, full of new ways of serving. I know there’s curiosity about how we’re serving these families, and we’ll certainly be sharing a lot of that. I want to kick us off, though, by emphasizing why we’re serving these families.
To illustrate the importance of why, think back with me, deep into history... to that time long ago when sports were a big deal. Can you remember that? Remember when sports even happened?!
One of the last big sports stories before sports came to a standstill was the news that Tom Brady was leaving the New England Patriots and going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At risk of stating the obvious, Tom Brady had a lot going for him. He is the most accomplished person at the most prized position in the most popular American sport. His success transcended sports and made him a global celebrity. His nickname, for goodness’ sake, is “Tom Terrific”!
Despite all the accomplishments, all the success, all the “terrific” recognition, after 20 years in new England Tom Brady was quoted saying things like this: “Why are we doing this? Why am I doing this? You gotta have answers to those questions.”
He’s right. You gotta have answers to those questions – why are we doing this? Why am I doing this? You can’t just do stuff; you gotta know why.
So why does Inheritance of Hope do… anything? Why do we do Inheritance of Hope?
Our mission gives the clue: to inspire hope in young families facing the loss of a parent. Our why is that young families facing the loss of a parent need hope – they need real, true, Christ-centered, eternal hope. That’s why we exist; that’s why we do everything we do; that’s why we do anything we do.
The most prominent “how” in our pursuit of that why has been events where lots of people with vulnerable health travel from far and wide to be part of a big group. Big groups, far-flung travel, vulnerable health – pretty much the perfect combination of things that don’t mix well in a world dictated by COVID-19.
If we got that how and our why confused, we’d look at April 2020 and say, “Well, I guess we won’t be doing Inheritance of Hope right now. This is no time for people with vulnerable health to travel and be part of a big group.” That how was taken away for now, but our why was not.
Young families facing the loss of a parent need hope. That has not changed. In fact, I’d claim that young families facing the loss of a parent need hope even more now.
This time of quarantining, lockdown, and social distancing has only been a few weeks, yet it’s been very frustrating and disorienting for many of us. But, as Spencer recently put it, imagine what it’s like to be on lockdown for even “just a few weeks” when you may only have weeks left to live.
If you were told you only had a limited number of days left, how would you feel about having to spend them like this? No more bucket list, no “one last time” for cherished activities, no travel to fun destinations, no visits from loved ones… just try to keep everyone at least 6 feet away before going 6 feet under. How do you experience hope in these circumstances?
As long as we have an answer to why – we gotta, and we do! -- we can figure out answers to how. When our why is anchored in Christ and inspiring the hope that flows from his love, God provides on the how. And the main way God is providing on the how is through us, through our people – God is providing through our intentional imagination and innovation, through our Christ-centered creative energy, through our faith-filled re-figuring. God is providing through this group right here, and all of us in our IoH Family.
A wonderful line about God providing through family can be found, surprisingly enough, in the movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. At the end of Alexander’s day that was terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad, he says this: “After today, I know that even terrible days aren’t that bad… when you’re surrounded by people you love. For us, the worse things get, this family just gets better.”
Alexander must be in the IoH Family! The worse things get, this family just gets better. With a Christ-centered perspective, nothing could be worse than crucifixion; nothing could be better than resurrection; so for a Christ-centered family, this is true -- the worse things get, the family just gets better.
One example that’s too good not to share, of this family getting better when things get worse, of our why shining through a new how – even before the eRetreat officially begins! – came from Coordinator Anna Conti on Wednesday. As she was lovingly in touch with a family in preparation for the eRetreat, and that family had just received a gift from us to cover their meals throughout their eRetreat, Anna said the mom was SO (all caps SO!) grateful! Anna continued, “She was so in awe and said so many places have forgotten people during this time, so she feels very blessed to know how much IoH cares about them.”
To that I say, AMEN!
Things getting worse to the point that “many places have forgotten people” was transformed to feeling blessed by knowing how much this family cares. The worse things get, this family just gets better.
It’s not just a great theological line from a silly movie. It’s the reality of Christ-centered IoH Family. It’s how we roll, because we know our why.
And, just to repeat, our why is as clear as ever: families facing the loss of a parent need the hope that flows from God’s love. When circumstances change, our “how” may take different forms, such as this wonderfully creative eRetreat, but we gotta know our why, our mission, and our why remains anchored in Christ and can weather any storm.
So, the worse things get for IoH families, whether from terminal illness or widespread illness or any reason, may they abound in hope that this family – the Christ-centered IoH Family – just gets better.
To wrap up in prayer, I’ll read Romans 15:13. Let’s pray! "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Amen!
Aaron is Inheritance of Hope's COO. A version of this devotional was first shared with the April 2020 eLegacy Retreat team. See more about the eRetreat >>