As I reflect on the life and death of my friend Davin Henrickson (1978-2012), whom I knew only for a brief time, there is really one passage of Scripture that keeps playing in my mind,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24).
I read all that people have said and posted about Davin on his wife’s Facebook timeline and it becomes readily apparent that he had a tremendous impact on so many people’s lives. The last year, the cancer, his God-ordained trial and steadfastness, his death, they all point us to Jesus in a way that a happy, healthy life never could have. His death is, through many tears, through the agony of grief, through the gut-wrenching emptiness of loss, giving us life. It doesn’t feel like that right now, but it is true.
My prayer is that his death continues to be life for us, for the church, his family, his friends. And as Davin once taught us in the Sunday School classroom, so it is my prayer as we ponder all that his life and death speaks: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps 19:14). In honor of him, these are a few ways his story is speaking to me.
1) I am forced to remember that I am like grass, here one moment and gone the next, a mist that blows away with the wind (James 4:14). It humbles me and puts life’s trials in perspective, knowing that all this life will soon be a memory. The knowledge of our days being previously numbered by God gives us wisdom to live for today (Ps 90:12).
2) I am forced to think seriously about how I spend my time. Knowing that the days are short, thinking about life in light of eternity, will this or that thing matter after I’m dead? What will I wish I did more of? What could I have done without? Am I cherishing the time I have each day with my wife, children, and friends? Am I making meaningful use of my time, or am I wasting it? Will this argument, this relational divide, this conflict, matter at the doorstep of eternity?
3) I am forced to take seriously the joy that would cause Davin to count death as gain (Philippians 1:21). Here was a brother who said with all the marrow of his life, as he spent the last year dying, ‘the joy I have in Christ makes all this worth it.’ How great must that joy in Christ be, then, and how much more seriously ought I to pursue it. I have spent so much time in pursuit of lesser things. But if you watch a man give away all to gain the treasure hidden in a field, then his life and death have told the story of the worth of Jesus.
I do not know what fruit the Lord will bring from the life and death of his servant Davin, but I do know that he is faithful to use one man’s death as life for many (1 Peter 3:18). The word of the Lord does not fall to the ground without coming to pass according to his promise (2 Kings 10:10). May it please the Lord to continue to use Davin’s story as life to us all, the fruitfulness of which brings glory to Jesus.