Sunday, December 09, 2007

Joy Mingled With Sorrow

Hello All,

I heard a Pastor say recently that this life was the hardest thing that the believer will ever have to face, while it is simultaneously the best thing the non-believer will ever get to experience. This last week has been one emotional experience after another, going up and down in ways that truly surprise me. For example, Thursday I was on the phone with a dear brother whose wife has decided to leave their marriage. I have been talking with him for a few weeks now, and thankfully, the Lord has steadied his heart, but it's just heartbreaking and maddening for me to have to counsel yet another person in this condition, where one side of a marital union has decided to take the coward's way out! No complaints mind you, but it's so difficult for me to watch a marriage forsaken.

Friday afternoon continued the onslaught, as another dear sister called me and told me of a serious health problem that had just shown itself in her husband. These are people who I have known and loved since their kids were my Junior Highers years ago. We've done some life together, and my prayers are with them.

Then Friday night, we had our staff/board Christmas party, which was an absolute blast! God knew that I needed it! We have the coolest staff and board ever and the party was a great time. It was an added bonus that Lela and I were both affirmed by a few members of the board, who thanked the Lord for us, which was exceptionally touching to us. It ended with the customary games that have become staples for these events, Catch Phrase and Guesstures. And as usual, the men DOMINATED and walked away victorious. I walked away, feeling so blessed to be a part of this church and this leadership group.

That high didn't last that long. Not even 24 hours later, I got a call from Pastor Chris informing me that one of our board advisors and long-time pillars of the Church, Arie Van Ryn, had been killed in Mexico in an auto accident. Immediately, my heart sank and I could feel my face lose all sense of joy. I was speechless and saddened by the loss of this wonderful man, who was a Grandfather at Kingsfield to those of us on staff, and a Father to many of the men that make up the backbone of our church today. I knew that Sunday would be hard.

And it was harder than I anticipated. Usually, there is a buzz in the air and an excitement as people come in. Not today. There were hugs and tears and sadness. It progressively got harder as I looked at the faces of the men, most who Arie had directly helped or blessed in some tangible way. Then to watch Pastor Chris momentarily lose composure as he informed the entire body made it very heavy to bear. I stood in the back, with my arm around one brother and my hand extended to another, shedding my own tears.

For a man that I have only known for 9 months, he sure had an impact on me in that moment. For one, I can remember every encounter I had with him, every one being an encouragement. I remember the first day I met Arie. I was candidating for the Associate Pastor position and was meeting him and the rest of the board for lunch. He looked at me and said, "I am glad that you don't have blonde hair and blue eyes!" I thought from that moment that this was my kind of guy!

I wish I would have had the time to have known Arie better, but I am thankful for the time I had.

Then, I came home and my youngest daughter Elizabeth was all dressed up in her new princess dress, waiting for her birthday party to begin. Her eyes were completely unaware of any sadness that could have been happening around her. She looked wide-eyed and eagerly anticipated the festivities. Her life is just beginning as she rounds the 3rd year of her life. Her smile and infectious personality remind me that sorrow must be mingled with joy in this life. I would enjoy the rest of the day, being around my family, watching Lizzy open yet another present, thanking God for every second that I had.

As the days go by, I am sure that my mind and heart will return to the normal fast pace, but these last few days have made me slow down again, and thank God for a wonderful wife, a great church with a huge upside, and a fantastic, godly, family.

I hope that you can do the same this week.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


Carrie said...

I needed some encouragment after today, as I am heading into finals tomorrow morning. I knew I would find it here. Thanks Frank for your great post.

Cindy said...

Very well said Frank. I had a Christmas Tea on Saturday evening and one of my dear friends received the call regarding Arie. We all were stunned~thankfully we were around our dear sisters. It made us all realize how precious life is and how quickly it can be over.
God does have a plan and His timing is perfect even though it is hard to accept at times.
If nothing else things like this remind us to say I love you to our loved ones and hug them a little tighter.
Thanks Frank for reminding us that we can have joy in the midst of the sorrow.

Frank & Lela said...


Thanks for the compliments and good luck on those finals! If you need any help...well, maybe you ought to just pray!


It's truly the great blessing of the Lord to have the fellowship of our brothers and sisters. How often the Lord has used people to bring comfort into my life, just at times like this. Thanks for checking in!


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the memorial service for Arie Van Ryn will be held?

Frank & Lela said...

For information about Arie's memorial service, please feel free to email me personally.