The saying, “you win some you lose some,” hits close to home today. Today I celebrate my biggest win – 37 years ago today I asked Jesus to save my soul from sin and death. June 12 will always be my spiritual birthday and I am so glad I accepted His gift of eternal life!

Today also marks the anniversary of my greatest loss. This time last year one of my very best friends, Craig Miller, died unexpectedly in an accident. Craig was my accountability partner, hunting buddy and travel guide to countless concerts and mission trips. I was blessed to speak with Craig a couple of days before his death.

I have performed countless funerals in the last three decades of pastoring, but had never lost anyone close to me, other than aging grandparents until June 12, 2015.

I have grieved his loss in three ways this past year which have helped me, and I pray will help you some day as well.

  • Sometimes I just need to cry.

I cried for 10 minutes on the way to the airport a couple of days ago just by mentioning this first anniversary to my wife. Then again on the plane. Then again today.

Throughout this past year,  a memory of Craig would trigger tears and I just let them flow. Once, I was studying at a Dunkin Donuts and a U2 song came on which reminded me of the Joshua Tree tour concert we went to the 1980s.

More tears.

Sometimes tears can be both happy and sad at the same time. God created tears for a reason, so let yourself walk through the valley of death instead of getting stuck in it.

  • Sometimes I need to laugh.

I remember when Craig went through a legalism phase in the late eighties. It didn’t suit him. Neither did his suit phase when he was flirting with politics a couple of years ago. What did suit Craig was laughter – especially at himself.

Other times at me.  

Whenever I see a Dalmatian, I think of how he congratulated me on the completion of my doctorate in 1995: “No matter how many spots a dog has, he is still a dog.”

  • Sometimes I needed to reminisce.

It has helped me this year to connect with those who were close to Craig. Today I did that with Brad Graves at the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix. We just needed to say a couple of things about Craig, so that we could press forward together.

We vowed to do that every year at the SBC.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. ‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Celebrate the life of the one you have lost with those who need comfort also. Your walk through the valley of the shadow of death can sometimes be sad or funny, but it never needs to be done alone or without the hope of the gospel.