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Hayden Milton Smith

Posted by Matt Postiff August 29, 2015 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Church 

I just got home from an emotional day of ministry, serving the family of a fine 17-year young man in our church who was killed in an auto accident last week. The last 10 days have been brutal for the family, but they have also brought many blessings and thoughts that might be helpful for you. Writing this will be helpful for me to process what I've just experienced.

Our collective memories cannot remember a tragedy like this in our church's entire history, so this was a brand new experience. Pastors called and said they either had experienced such an event, and offered wise counsel; or they called and said they never had and that they were laboring in prayer for the family and for me to minister. A multitude of Christian people said they were praying for me this week, or all the way through the service. I believe God answered those prayers.

The Smith family has been a fine example of how to handle a trial of the worst sort. I encouraged them that God has not permitted more than He will sustain them through. I exhorted them that they must not take the devil's bait to become bitter against God, or discouraged, depressed, divided, despairing. God can and will uphold them.

The community's support was outstanding. About 600 people visited with the family yesterday, and there were almost 800 people in attendance at the celebration of life service today. It was standing room only. Families brought food for the luncheon, and there was way more than enough.

This time brought ministry opportunities with countless individuals. Events like those of the past week brought out people's concerns--on their own account, or from one family member about another who needs to be saved or to walk with the Lord.

It was reinforced to me that a strong doctrinal foundation is crucial for the real events of life. Sure, your pastor's Sunday's message might not feel precisely relevant for Monday morning. But it should be relevant for the morning when you get the call that your son has just been airlifted to the University Hospital and the local police will be taking you to him as soon as they can arrive at your home. Personal eschatology is relevant when the family faces a young man attached to machines who has no life left in his body and has to decide what to do next. The fact is that the Bible is always relevant, but the pastor may not always be preaching on a subject that suits your immediate fancy. However, the message may just fit a desperate need later.

The issues of life comprise a serious business. I was driving home from the church where the funeral was held, and I was the second car at a red light. Someone two or three cars back honked when the driver in front of me didn't turn right-on-red fast enough. I just shook my head. Wish I could take that person who honked back in time and had them sit through this week with me. Maybe they would then learn that they don't have to hurry on to their death by driving too fast, or think that getting through a red light is such an important thing. How ridiculous are the trivial things we get upset about!

Something else wonderful that happened was the great number of people who consoled me and inquired as to my well being. I lost a loved one too, they said, and I was carrying the burden of the church's grief and care as I ministered. That is all true, but I felt like God allowed us to share the burden together and as such it was lighter and more bearable. God has brought us safe thus far, Smiths and FBC family and Saline Community. So let us thank Him!

More thoughts flood my mind: the precious people who came to the funeral; the tears; the unbelief; the mourners who have hope; those who don't have any hope; the outstanding hospitality of First United Methodist Church in Saline; the funeral procession; the graveside committal service; the music; the memories shared; a decade and a half of precious personal friendship with Hayden's parents. May all bring comfort.

The service went well. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was proclaimed. The people were called to embrace the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I trust Hayden's memory was properly honored, and that God was glorified.

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