May 15, 2017
This morning I received a call from a woman. She told me that she and her young adult daughter were interested in visiting Journey after her daughter had spent time looking over our church’s website. But before they came, the mom wanted to know the answer to a question. She asked: “My son committed suicide. Does your church teach that he’s in hell because of that?” How would you answer her?
I told her about the first client assigned to me when I was a chaplain in a psychiatric hospital. He was a young man named Calvin. Sadly, Calvin had “fried his brain” on LSD. He had been in the hospital multiple times before. After a couple of weeks, the treatment team decided that Calvin should be allowed to go home for the weekend and return the next week for outpatient therapy. Calvin went home, and Calvin killed himself.
I acknowledge that I struggled with this, particularly since he was the first patient ever assigned to me. I came to understand how chemical imbalances in the brain can lead people to act in destructive ways. And I came to firmly believe that what’s important is not how you die, but how you live. I told the mother who called me today that’s what I believe, and I told her I was so sorry for the death of her son. When she told me her son had committed his life to Christ, but he too had taken drugs that had led to a chemical imbalance, I assured her that I was confident that he was in heaven, not hell, because God’s love never fails. I also assured her that she and her daughter would, of course, be welcome at Journey (and I didn’t say it, but I hope it’s true, that the love of our church will never fail.) I told her that at Journey we all are broken—just in different ways. So, we really try to be a place of grace and love and caring to one another.
After I hung up the phone, I was so thankful for our community of faith called Journey Church. And I am grateful for you.