Today, July 31, 2015 is the fourth anniversary of Chandler’s (Jimmy’s) early earthly death and the beginning of his life in heaven.
Typically, our family would be in Montana at the waterfall off of the Dearborn River where Chandler took his last breath, or beside his grave on this date. “Why in the world would you want to be there?” You’re probably thinking…”what a sad place to be!” This year, my family is scattered in different places, and we (Chuck and Rhonda) are in Colorado. We want to spend this day hiking around Quandary Peak and near the Snake River because it is crystal clear and bluish and reminds us of the Dearborn River. We want to spend this day reflecting and thinking about our son. We will go back through the memories of his life- his birth, his childhood and teenage years and even his death. We are proud of all parts of Chandler’s life and, even as strange as it may sound, we are proud even of his death. You see, Chandler died a good death (as every man desires), and as painful as it is to us we are proud of him for it.
Chandler was at a youth leadership camp at the time of his death, serving as a worship leader and a counselor. Before that camp, he was enjoying the mountains with his family, and before that he was attending Summit, an intensive Bible and worldview camp. Before Summit, he was serving as a youth counselor at “Jesus Camp” (a free camp for underprivileged kids and refugees in Dallas). And before that, he had just spent 6 months in China serving and teaching migrant Chinese kids. Now, we’ve been accused of “putting Chandler on a pedestal”, but truly our boast is in what the Lord did in Chandler’s heart and life and for Chandler’s faithfulness. Let me assure you, as his father and mother, we are very aware of his weaknesses and imperfections. But his weaknesses are for another post. This is about his death…his legacy.
Chandler loved the mountains, he loved the water and he loved the outdoor beauty. He loved worship, he loved God with all his heart and he was passionate about helping people. All of these things led up to and surrounded his death. It is a big part of what he is known for and will be known for. It is Chandler’s story, and according to the Bible, it is his story that will ring throughout eternity. After four years, Chandler’s ministry and influence continue to impact lives around the world.
That last hour they say he fought hard. For more than three minutes he fought that current, before he went under. And for over an hour he maintained a heartbeat. Our son is a fighter. But when the fight was over, we can only imagine the amazing scene of the angels carrying him out of that beautiful canyon and the joy on his face as he entered his peace and met his Savior whom he loves.
This is why we can say… It was a good death.
Chuck and Rhonda