|Me and Ty at the 2014 Omaha Midnight Run|
I was a few minutes late. Ty and Terri Schenzel were waiting for me. They thought it was weird I don’t drink coffee. I thought the meeting was about them raising money and support for their ministry. I was wrong. They asked about me, the church, my dreams. They genuinely cared about me. They prayed for me and with me. We entered the coffee shop as strangers and left as friends.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:12-13
A few weeks later, Ty gave me a tour of the Hope Center. Wow! What amazed me was the way Ty related to the kids. I studied love for three years at one of the world’s great seminaries. But love was right here in front of me being lived out as well as I’ve ever seen it being lived out.
Starting the Hope Center for Kids wasn’t easy for them. It took faith and lots of it. It would have been much easier for them to stay in the local church. They were good enough they could have gone pretty much anywhere. But God had different plans. From the ground up they built God’s dream one tear, one broken heart, one donor, one sleepless night, one glimmer of hope at a time. It wasn’t easy. But nothing rewarding in life is ever easy. Between their faith in God’s love for them, their love for each other, and the their love for people—failure didn’t have a chance.
Ty was a regular speaker at The Water’s Edge. He is the best preacher I have ever heard on a regular basis. He was always insightful and funny. But the thing that made him different was the way he connected to people. It goes back to that love thing.
Terri was as good behind the scenes as Ty was up front. They were partners in ministry and in marriage. She spoke to our women. Her talks were filled with hope and were a rare blend of truth and grace. Whenever I asked her how things were going, she talked about her kids and grandkids. In life’s most blessed role, she was a champion. It goes back to that love thing again.
Ty and I weren't best friends. But we were friends. And he treated me that way he treated everyone: with love. I went through a really tough time a few years ago. He was on vacation in California. He called and for 45 minutes didn’t take a vacation from loving. His words of hope and his willingness to listen was what I needed when I needed it. I had the flu really bad last February on a Saturday night. One call and five minutes later I had an incredible guest preacher and a woman who was praying for me. This is the kind of people they were: filled with faith, hope, and love.
The tragedy in life isn't when somebody dies too young. The tragedy is when somebody of any age dies who has never lived. Ty and Terri lived an amazing life as a couple, as parents, as grandparents, as pastors, as spiritual entrepreneurs, as travelers, and as children of God--brother and sister to Jesus Christ.
The end isn’t death. The end is life. Jesus told us so. We celebrate two amazing lives and we celebrate God’s amazing promises. Simultaneously, we say goodbye. That isn’t easy. Laugher and tears. Questions and memories. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror.
Terri and Ty now see everything with perfect clarity. Death isn’t the end. The end is life. Terri and Ty—You strengthened my faith, increased my hope, and showed me God’s love. For that I’m grateful. Countless others are too.