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Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts
By Wendy Wippel

For most of human history (without antibiotics and sketchy sanitation) death has been an ever-present reality. But not today. Today it takes us by surprise, even though the Bible tells us, “it is appointed for man to die”. (Hebrews 9:27) By His grace, however, we know “the rest of the story”.

And the story, without God, isn’t good. It is appointed for man to die. And after that, to face judgment.

And only the young die good.

The Scriptures tell us that, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12) NKJV

What hope is there, then? Outside of God?

The disciples asked the Lord the same thing.

“Who then can be saved?”

“Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:26-27)

Without God, it is impossible for anyone to be saved. But with God it is not.

That’s the Gospel. The Good News.

My father-in-law, who died a few years back, was serving at Pearl Harbor on that day that has, in fact, lived in infamy. He only recently had a military funeral at which an Honor Guard gave him a 21-gun salute. That 21-gun salute was followed by one solitary bugler. A bugler that played Taps.

Somehow there is nothing more appropriate for mourning that than that song, the military signal of the day’s end. Especially when played by one single bugler.

Winston Churchill requested the same song for his funeral. He died in 1965, and his funeral was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral. As requested, as the funeral came to an end, a single bugler, perched high in the famous dome at St. Pauls, played Taps. But for Churchill it didn’t end there. As the last note of Taps faded away, from over the next hill came the sound of a second bugler.

And he was playing, not Taps, but Reveille. The military signal for the start of a new day.

Which served, by design, as a haunting musical echo of II Corinthians 5:8: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

For a Christian, to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord.

And so, we don’t grieve like those that have no hope. We know where our loved one is, and we know that it’s only a matter of time till we are reunited. We know that to live is Christ, but to die is gain. Death has no victory, no sting.

In the words of Jesus (OK, it was actually Ted Neeley as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar): “to conquer death you only have to die”. A biblical statement (albeit from a not always completely Biblical movie), because as Jesus (the real one) did say, “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death”. (Revelation 2:11)

And we know that, don’t we. But we still weep. And and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Jesus wept.

And in the same context. Someone He cared about had died. But there’s one big difference otherwise. Jesus wept, and then proceeded to immediately bring the lost love one back from the dead. Didn’t he know he could do that? Sure he did.

So why did Jesus weep? I think it was because his friends were weeping. He mourned with those who mourned. And, as Solomon said, there is a time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

There’s a story out there about a little boy, Joey, who lived next to an elderly couple, Henry and Bea. The couple’s grandchildren lived far away, and the boy’s own grandparents did too, and pretty soon the couple and the little boy became very fond of each other. The surrogate grandfather, particularly, wiled away the hours reliving his own youth with the child. Soon Joey visited nearly every day.

And they had a routine. Together he and Henry fished in Henry’s backyard pond, watched Henry’s miniature train for a while, fed the goldfish, had cheese and crackers as a snack.

Then one day, Bea died.

Joey’s Mom looked in on Henry, offered to shop, but kept Joey home. She didn’t want to intrude on Henry’s grief. But eventually Joey’s pleas to make a visit wore her down. She thought that perhaps, it was time. So she gave Joey permission to go next door.

It was an hour or so before he returned. “Did you have fun?”, she asked. “Did you feed the goldfish?”

“No”, Joey said.

“Did you watch Henry’s train?”


“Did you do any fishing?”


“Well, goodness!”, his Mom said. “What did you do?”

“Well”, Joey said. “He was sad. So I just sat in his lap and helped him cry.”

I was privileged to meet Jack once, and he was one of a kind. Passionate, eminently personable, hospitable, and abundantly gifted. And not one to take himself too seriously.

He, uniquely to online ministries (in my experience) managed to build an online community where it wasn’t just facts and headlines that were shared. It was hearts. The Omega Letter is so much more than a forum. It’s a family.

I, for one, have been incredibly blessed by the Kinsella family ministry. And I know I’m not alone.

We know Jack, at this very minute, is living out (in a way, I’m sure, that we can’t even begin to comprehend) the reality of Psalm 84:10, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand” elsewhere. His God has healed all of his diseases, and wiped every tear from his eyes.

But we’re here. And to Kari and Mike, and Char, and Gayle, and the rest of Jack’s family that are nameless to me, know that there are a whole lot of people out here that are helping you cry.

Say “hi” to the big man, Jack, and we’ll see you at the family reunion.

“Our God is the God of salvation; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death.”


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