Good morning from Managua, Nicaragua.
This afternoon people will gather for the memorial service of Mark Rodriguez, who was killed in a senseless act of violence last Friday. Mark was seventeen years old and full of life. I had the opportunity of getting to know Mark while he was serving in Nicaragua for one month last summer. While Mark was in Nicaragua, he served people and his Lord with great passion. In addition to working and living with the teenage boys on the Veracruz farm, Mark raised money for and helped build a greenhouse that is now used for training purposes with those same teenage boys as well as others. Through this greenhouse and his investment in young people’s lives, Mark has left a legacy of hope in Nicaragua.
Mark’s love for life, people, and Christ was clearly evident by the way that he lived. In Deuteronomy, an Old Testament book of the Bible, God challenges the people of Israel and Moses with these words- “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” (Deuteronomy 30:15, NIV 1984) A couple of verses later He says to them, “Now choose life”. As I think about what I have seen and heard about Mark’s life it is clear that he chose life. This should be a challenge to all of use that are still here. Though his life was short, Mark had a great impact on this world and is continuing to even today. We have the same opportunity. Today and every day hereafter we can chose to live with passion and love for life, people, and God. We can choose life.
As people gather today for the memorial service, they will be celebrating life. Mark’s death, while incredibly difficult for the family and friends he left behind, is not the end for him. In death, Mark is now living in perfect unity with his Heavenly Father. Mark passionately wrote about this truth in his most recent blog post. I would like to share his words with you.
I’ve been meditating on heaven a lot lately, and I must say, it wells my eyes with tears of joy every now and then. What a beautiful thought that one day, I will be completely in the presence of God and will actually be able to feel the magnitude of all his love and peace with no earthly fears or worries to distract me. The joy that I feel now, the serenity I feel now, will finally be made perfect.
The presence of God here on earth is enough to make me shudder in wonder. I’ve had some incredible moments in life that can only be explained as miracles where I see my Abba, my Father move in love for me so powerfully; it brings me to my knees in amazement. To think that one day I will be perfectly and totally in his presence….I’m definitely going to need a heavenly body because the joy he fills me with now sometimes makes me feel like I’m about to explode!
I love the image of Heaven because it is perfect, perfect peace. Every quarrel, every hurt, it’s all gonna be resolved. All of God’s children will be together and we won’t hurt each other anymore; we’ll finally understand how to love perfectly. And the fact that we’ll all be worshiping the Lord together in one place, forever….that amazes me.
It makes me so excited to think of the wedding feast awaiting us when we go to be with the Lord. I imagine streets filled with rejoicing, loud trumpets, wedding bells….I’m sure it’ll be far more incredible than I can comprehend now, and I love that.
God is super good. I can’t wait to be with him forever
When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
– Mark Rodriguez, http://markrodriguezphotography.com/2014/04/05/heaven/
Mark is now with his Lord and Savior, experiencing the perfect peace and joy he so beautifully wrote about. I am thankful for his life and that I had the opportunity to get to know him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
To read more blog post from Mark Rodriguez, go to http://markrodriguezphotography.com.
– James Belt