For those of you who follow this blog (which at this point is up to a rockin’ 350 of you), I’m sorry I haven’t posted in forever. It has been so long probably at least 20 of you have never seen one new post since you signed up.
The reason for this is kind of involved and I plan to write and share it with you soon. But today it is the loss of a dear friend that motivates me to sit down, get down to business, and put…er…words to screen I suppose. When I lose a friend I always feel an overwhelming drive to post about it here, to document these painful but seminal moments in time.
Most of you don’t know Brad, but he was a dear and special friend to me, one of the first really good friends I made when I entered the ministry in 1994. He was a mentor, a brother, and a man of almost inconceivable joy and positivity that lightened the lives of all who knew him. Brad impacted thousands of people with his brilliant mind and infinitely deep heart. So there’s your introduction to Brad, and here’s my tribute to him.
Brad Lockwood I love you, pal. Man, this was way too soon.
So many of the funnest and funniest memories in my life have you in them. You always balanced out my intensity and I felt so accepted and at ease in your presence. You had my back so many times when I was struggling — financially, in ministry, in relationships, with God. And I always knew you loved me. Always.
You taught me almost everything I know about grace and love. Once when I was a young pastor, upset with a student, I said , “No way I’m letting her attend (whatever fun trip we were going to be taking) with her acting like that.” You smiled and said, “Yep. Sometimes there need to be consequences. But I know your heart, and I know that whatever decision you make right now, if she gets pregnant 5 years from now and desperately needs help, you’ll want her to feel like she can always come to you.”
You were right, Brad. That *was* ultimately what I cared most about and, again and again, you called me gently away from law and pointed me towards love.
I don’t know how many gigs we did together with the “youth pastor band” you assembled, but those are easily some of my best and sweetest memories. Playing in Chicago at Powersurge. Playing at the women’s retreat in Midland. Playing at annual conference. Playing at that camp where the speaker scolded us on stage in front of the whole camp because he didn’t like the words to the song we had just finished.
The time you gave me money because I was poor and couldn’t afford to buy Christmas gifts for my children. I never took money from you again after that, but you had my back financially for years, asking almost every time I saw you if we were doing okay and if we needed help. There are no words for how much that meant and means to me and it’s only as I write these words that the tears are coming.
The time we were playing that gig in Midland and went out to see The Sixth Sense and when the twist came at the end, you got super excited and yelled out in a crowded theater — “He was dead the whole time!” And a million times after that that we laughed so hard about that moment. I’m laughing about it now. And crying at the same time.
The time in 2008 when my wife’s mom died and we were scared to death that we were going to be responsible for her debts. I was so glad I had a friend who was an attorney who I knew already cared about us. Your counsel kept us sane through that time. Please know we fully realized that if you’d charged us for the amount of time you spent on this, you’d have had to give me more money to pay you.
All the times we would meet up with other pastors at the conference office and we’d break into little diads at the end and you and I were always together. We got so real, so honest about our lives. The more I came to know you, the more I respected you. You were the real deal my friend, and everybody knew it. I always felt like in those diads we became brothers. Though our ways eventually parted a little and we didn’t see each other as regularly, I never stopped thinking of you that way.
Because I always knew, no matter what, I had a faithful friend in you. I hope I made half the impact on your life you made on mine.
I’ll miss you, buddy.
Thanks for everything.