It is hard to believe that this Friday will mark one year since my nephew Matt Schmidt died in a car accident on his way to begin training as a missionary with Youth with a Mission. In the blink of an eye his family and friends lives were turned upside down. The empty chair at Christmas, the birthday uncelebrated, the pictures on the walls and desk that don’t change with time, and the absence of his contagious mischievous laughter remind us that Matt is no longer with us. At times the grief has been crippling. The intensity of the grief is simply a reminder of how much he was loved.
The following description of Matt comes from his obituary;
Everyone who had the pleasure to meet Matt during his short life knew he had a big heart. He was always there for anyone at any time, and was quick to give them everything he had. During his life, he was one to always give, and never to take. Matt radiated kindness wherever he went, having the ability to step in and help in any situation. As his final act of kindness here on Earth, Matt donated his organs so that 6 people could continue life on Earth and many more will benefit while his soul lives on in Heaven with his favorite cousin and partner in crime, David.
Over the past year I have wondered numerous times what Matt and David are doing together in heaven. I don’t think there is much crime there so I am sure they have both had to look for some other type of employment. I am sure that no matter what they are doing that they are still both serving and loving everyone they come in contact with.
I had the incredible privilege of speaking at Matt’s funeral. As I was thinking about the way Matt loved and served others, it reminded me of a passage in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus tells a story about those who he will accept into his kingdom. It says,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’
“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:34-40
I could hear Matt asking Jesus the same thing? When did I ever do any of these things for you? When did I clothe you, feed you, or give you a drink? And Jesus would say to Matt, “Every time you took time to guide and walk with David, that was me. Every time you paid for another person’s meal so you could spend time with them, you did it to me. Every time you called your cousin to simply say I love you or to encourage her to go to church on her own and then afterwards called her to tell her how proud you were, that was me, you did it to me. Every time you laid aside your own schedule to spend time with your hurting friend or neighbor, that was me. You did it to me. And because you did this for me, I welcome you into my kingdom.”
Now Matt would be quick to tell us that it wasn’t because of the good works he did that got him into heaven; it was the result of his faith in Christ. Matt in turn showed the world how Jesus had loved him by sharing that love with others. I want to be more like Matt.
At Christmas Matt’s mom and dad gave everyone in the family a pendent or necklace that had a fingerprint of both Matt and David. Every time I see them I am reminded of several things:
- While they are no longer physically present with us we will one day see them again.
- Both Matt and David left their mark, their print in this world. They lived the dash between their birth and death well and the world is a better place because of them.
- I am still living the dash between my birth and death and want to leave my mark by loving and serving others.
- Matt and David were unique and beautiful masterpieces made in the image of God.
- Brenda and I and Karl and Karen are blessed and thankful for the privilege of being David and Matt’s parents.
I hope over the next couple days you will keep Karl, Karen, Andrew and Sarah in your prayers and thoughts. I know they would greatly appreciate it.