Friday, July 12, 2013


Teach me to number my days
And count every moment
Before it slips away
Take in all the colors
Before they fade to grey

I don't want to miss
Even just a second
More of this

It happens in a blink, it happens in a flash
It happens in the time it took to look back
I try to hold on tight, but there's no stopping time
What is it I've done with my life?

When it's all said and done
No one remembers
How far we have run
The only thing that matters
Is how we have loved

Back in the summer of 2010, the lyrics to Blink by Christian band Revive were nothing but a pretty cool tune that we played loud and proud in the aptly named "mafia van" during my last choir tour with Cornerstone Bible Institute (also the trip that marked the end of my time at CBI). It was the last summer that we were all together in one place, before several unexpected couples formed and got married, before we scattered and went on various adventures of our own, and before last Sunday, June 30th. Today these lyrics ring far more true than they did then.

 Last Sunday I learned via facebook that my former classmate and friend Dustin Deford (24) was one of the nineteen firefighters killed in Arizona  

While I might not have known Dustin as well as others at Cornerstone, he was an everyday part of a very special time in my life. Spending two years at a close knit Bible college of 40 something students binds you together in a strange and peculiar way. Up to that point in my life I doubt any other group of people knew me better aside from my nuclear family. For two years we matured together, we saw the best and the worst from each other (I still blush when I think of some of the things I said and did!). I've come to realize recently that time may heal all wounds (this is open to debate), but you never, ever get over the friends you make. I may not miss Cornerstone, but I miss my classmates, I miss the experience of living together, growing together, being our own strange family. And we are family still; brothers and sisters in Christ.

So when I heard of Dustin's death, I couldn't believe it. When I left Cornerstone, I thought about the race in front of me, of my life and if and how it would be used for God's glory. It never occurred to me that it might be a relatively short one. I guess at our age we're not apt to think about death, even as Christians. As one former student Joel Georgeff wrote late week:

"God doesn't NEED my strengths and my abilities to bring Him glory, ALL He needs is my body and He doesn't even need it to be alive!"

Death is a certainty in this life. Unless Christ returns before, all of us will die someday, and the sobering thing is, it can be at any time and at any age. For me however, this is not a hopeless thing. As I read this week over and over and over again, Dustin left behind an amazing, staggering testimony of a life lived in love and submission to Christ. The gospel is stamped all over his life of 24 years. What the world would see as a tragic waste of a young life, I and so many others see a life lived to the fullest purpose; to the glory of God. 

"...but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (1 Philippians 1:20b-21)

At the beginning of this week my roommate told me that a girl she knew had died in car crash, and she was deeply saddened at the lack of hope at the end of a godless life. I realized then that while I was saddened by Dustin's death, I was also joyful and comforted. There was no despair in his passing, but rejoicing, hope instead of hopelessness. I'm jealous of my brother who has finished his race, and is now in the PRESENCE of Christ!! I take pride and joy to have known him even for a brief time, and I praise God at his testimony as post after post  speaks not of his heroic actions but of his love for Christ, and his simple faith. 

It makes me sad that at any Cornerstone reunion I may partake in the future, Dustin won't be there, but he will be present at the biggest and best reunion of all believers. I look forward to that reunion far more. 

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared: but we know that when he appears we shall be life him, because we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2)

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away' "  (Revelation 21:3-4)  

Tomorrow Dustin will be buried in his native Ekalaka, Montana. Pray for his family, pray for the people present who will undoubtedly hear the gospel. I will be stuck in Wisconsinland, but the Deford family will be in my thoughts and prayers all day.    

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