Last night, I attended the first funeral service of Sam Rayson. I say "the first" because there will be a service this weekend at the Sam's home church in Nashville, and then his ashes will eventually be buried in his grandmother's grave in Australia.
Sam was 11-years-old. I had spent time with his father, my friend, Mike Rayson, a number of times. But I had only met Sam one time. A few months back, the Rayson family was traveling through central Illinois to the Quad Cities area, and we got to spend a couple hours with them over lunch in Pontiac.
I remember being very impressed by how polite all three of Mike and Amy's kids were. What I remember about Sam was him asking his mom if he could have more noodles (we were eating spaghetti). I think he had two extra helpings of noodles.
I've actually thought of Sam often because he wore glasses. My 3.5-year-old son recently got glasses and I've been thinking that he reminded me of Sam.
I was deeply touched by Mike's desire to specially design and lead a worship service in honor of Sam. He told stories that were extremely humorous and stories that described the tough job that comes with raising boys. He even sang a song that he had written called "That's What Daddy's Do" which he had written some time ago to commemorate his relationship with Sam.
The thing that hit me the hardest was thinking over and over again about my son and also about how fragile life is. I had a picture of my son and daughter wedged into my Bible that I kept looking at throughout the service, and even the thought of losing one of them as the Rayson's lost Sam is too painful to think about for more than a brief second.
Mike shared in his blog tribute to Sam that Sam had accepted Christ as his Savior just a short time ago. In his latest post, Mike shares how 3 young people have received Christ as Savior through Sam's story.
How awesome is our God. I'm reminded of Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful ones."
Mike and his family are such a blessing and examplars of living by faith for all who know them. May God give them so much grace right now.
On a related note, our Conference has sent up a Rayson Family Benefit Fund, which will be used to help cover medical, burial, and travel costs. People can donate to it by sending contributions to the Conference Center, P. O. Box 19207, Springfield, IL 62794-9207. Clearly write “Rayson Family Benefit Fund” in the memo area of the check.
You can also make donations through Mike's MySpace site.