Today, through so much happiness and joy, I am soberly reminded of a friend I had 3 years ago named Johnson Ko. It's amazing how something can stay with you for so long, even though so much time has passed. All it takes is one moment and you're back to where everything happened. My friend Johnson passed away my senior year of high school. We had carpooled everyday to school and back since we both lived in the city and school was a little over 20 minutes away. During this time I really got to know him and see his family, along with all sides of his personality. There's only so much that people see and can tell about you at school. It really comes down to what you put out there, but you really learn a lot about a person when you visit their homes and ride with their parents, wait on them to get ready, and have conversations in the car about school, work, and classes. You don't necessarily have a choice in what they see then, because they see you in multiple environments.
There was something funny about my friendship with Johnson, mainly that he always made fun of me. But we made it into a running joke and I will admit that I AM quite unpredictable at times, so it all played in together. We embraced it, for the most part, and we just laughed. I have all these memories of laughing with him, or laughing at myself. He also could always tell when something was off or wrong with me, and he would actually make an effort to ask what it was. I usually didn't tell him. I usually brushed it off and let him figure it out for himself. He usually did.
I remember giving a speech on the day of my graduation from high school introducing a song about heaven and tying it into the death of my friend: "You Hold Me Now" by Hillsong. This song will always have a tie to this loss for the rest of my life. I remember saying that "You Hold Me Now" was a reminder that Johnson was in heaven, and what we all hope for as Christians we will one day come to see there. God granted me the grace and honor to know that Johnson was happy in His presence through that song and through a powerful encounter I had with Him in a church service.
I KNOW Johnson is in heaven. I KNOW he is free and fully satisfied. I know it.
There is so much uncertainty in life. I never knew that Johnson would never get to graduate. I never knew that we wouldn't be randomly talking on Facebook about college or life. I didn't anticipate it.
In my life today there is so much uncertainty with what I have and where I'm going, but I'm encouraged by these words my good friend Johnson wrote in an essay our senior year in high school, and I hope you will be too. It's in remembering these words and the memory of our friendship that I can look forward and know with certainty where my future lies:
"In my short life, bitter and sweet times fill up the past. The bad times are bearable only with the presence of good times. These good times give preparation to endure the harder times. In this way, the past affects the future and sometimes restrains the future, yet your future ultimately depends on what you will make of it...Though I have no clear vision of the future, I plan to walk by faith without sight. However, while the inability to see into the future or the goals that will limit is fearful, being led by the hand of God places exhilaration and enjoyment in that life. My future will not be something I can predict, given the sovereignty of God, but it will be mind boggling to see a life given to God unravel."