Goodbye, Nato!

Goodbye, Nato!

Sarah Compton, my dear and beautiful friend pictured above, is grieving now. Nathan, the beautiful young man pictured with her, was affectionately known as "Nato". He took his own life a few weeks ago today. Our hearts are unspeakably broken, and we miss him terribly. I recall with fondness the times he would visit our congregation with "his girl", Sarah. Afterwards we would often gather at Sarah's mom's house for lunch and talk about music, theology and the state of the church over beer and wine. They were always good times. He shared my passion for music, and would always try to find something new that I hadn't discovered yet. I loved how he thought refreshingly and radically about the church. He would often encourage me and I would feel that, perhaps just maybe, we were on the right track. I miss him, and always will...

Sarah wanted me to post this portion of a short essay entitled "When Someone Takes His Own Life", that was originally written by Norman Vincent Peale. It has been adapted to be personalized for Nato:

In many ways, this seems to be the most tragic form of death. Often the stigma of suicide is what rests most heavily on those left behind

The Bible warns us not to judge, if we ourselves hope to escape judgment. And I believe that this is the one area that Biblical command especially should be heeded. For how do we know how many valiant battles such a person may have fought and won before he loses that one particular battle? And is it fair that all the good acts and impulses of such a person should be forgotten or blotted out by his final tragic act? Do not judge him, and do not presume to fathom the mind of God where this one of His children is concerned.

Our Nathan died on his own battlefield. He was killed in action fighting a civil war. He fought against adversaries that were as real to him as his casket is real to us. They were powerful adversaries. They took toll of his energies and endurance. They exhausted the last vestiges of his courage and his strength. At last these adversaries overwhelmed him. And it appeared that he had lost the war. But did he? I see a host of victories that he has won!

For one thing – he has won our admiration – because even if he lost the war, we give him credit for his bravery on the battlefield. And we give him credit for the courage and pride and hope that he used as his weapons as long as he could. We shall remember not his death, but his daily victories gained through his kindnesses and thoughtfulness, through his love for his family and friends for all things beautiful, lovely, and honorable. We shall remember not his last day of defeat, but we shall remember the many days that he was victorious over overwhelming odds. We shall remember not the years we thought he had left, but the intensity with which he lived the years that he had. Only God knows what this child of His suffered in the silent skirmishes that took place in his soul. But our consolation is that God does know, and understands.

I wish he was still here. I miss him. I grieve losing him, and I grieve for Sarah. I can report that she is doing well, considering. And thanks, dear Sarah, for asking me to do this.

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