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Be a Loser...

For whoever wants to save their life will LOSE it, but whoever LOSES their life for me will save it. Luke 9:24

Twenty years ago in February, my parents came home after President’s weekend away and found my oldest brother, who had recently moved back home, dead on his bedroom floor. He was only 40 years old and died of an undiagnosable aortic aneurysm. The fact that it has (already) been twenty years has been weighing on my heart, but also reminding me how God blessed our family and took care of us throughout this tragic time.

My brother had moved back home, so he was not living alone in another state when he died, nor was he at work where part of his job was driving semi-trucks. We also found solace when we pieced together that he had been doing what he loved most the last 24 hours of his life, and that due to the nature of the aneurysm, although he was not feeling well, it appears he was not in pain; he simply passed out and passed away. In fact, had my parents been home, they most likely would not have known what was going on until it was too late and felt horribly guilty that they missed something. God was indeed protecting my brother, people at his work, and my parents despite the tragedy of it all.

Society, however, would not label my brother as highly successful. Never really academic, athletic, or attractive – my brother struggled to complete high school and a two-year college degree. He had jobs, but not a career. He had moved back home because he was now divorced and unable to make ends meet. He had his limitations, and sometimes that is all people saw of him. Society, in fact, might label him a Loser.

But my brother was happy. A musical prodigy who could pick out tunes he heard, after piano lessons he was a self-taught organist and played organ for the church, piano for the Sunday School, and participated in a very small local community theater doing behind the scenes stuff. He was happy, AND people knew it!

But at his funeral on a rainy Saturday in February, we learned how Truly Successful my brother – with seemingly few friends and dead-end jobs – was. At the end of the service, I got up with my other two siblings to speak, and as I turned to face the congregation, I had a slight hesitation of shock that took my breath away. The church was packed! People were standing in the back and up the side aisles. People we didn’t know who had worked with him, even years and years ago, and had seen the announcement in the paper had come. Why? He had made an impact on them. Over and over we heard how my brother was respectful, always smiling, always knew everyone’s name, and shared what he was passionate about, especially his Faith. When others looked at my brother, they did not see a Loser – they saw a happy person, and they saw JESUS through his life. What an impact that one seemingly insignificant life had made!

Sometimes in our day-to-day life we get caught up in labels, society’s demands, what needs to be done, and what our students, co-workers, church members need for “success” – instead of where our real success lies. It can be a daily struggle, but let’s strive to recognize our God given gifts – not only in ourselves, but in others as well, especially our students – and share encouragement to use them in such a way that others will see Christ through those gifts, no matter what they may be, no matter if society deems them successful or not. Using God’s gifts so that others see Christ? That is Success! My brother really truly knew that, and although he lost his life too young and we felt the sting, we were comforted that his life was eternally saved through the victorious death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For whoever wants to save their life will LOSE it, but whoever LOSES their life for me will save it. Luke 9:24


~Miriam Heinicke, Orange Lutheran High School


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