This image was found in a online newspaper archive. This link will allow you to view the article.
Every year, January 27th is more than just another day on the calendar. For me, it is a day of remembrance and reflection. On this day 20 years ago my brother Jesse Hughes, along with 6 young men, passed from this life in a van crash.
In the days leading up to this year's January 27th, I have been thinking about the crash and wondering what I could share about it. When I think about the accident and about my brother, here are some things I have taken from it:
1. The loss of a loved one makes heaven more real.
- When I was a boy, I learned about my need for salvation. I learned that Jesus died in my place for my sin and that He offered salvation by His grace through faith in His death, burial and resurrection for me. He became my personal Savior. However, I have never seen Him. I have tried to picture what He will look like, what it will be like in heaven with Him, but I have trouble knowing what to imagine.
- Having Jesse in heaven with my Savior helps make it real, make it personal. It isn't just a place where people go when they die (general). It is a place where my brother lives. No one likes sorrow. No one likes tragedy. No one likes death. But through these difficulties the realities I cannot yet see have been made more real to me.
2. The impact one person can have on others, even in a limited amount of time.
- Jesse was 15 when I was born. I graduated from kindergarten the year he graduated from college. The time we both lived at home, I was so young that I have very few memories. The years following he lived in our area, served at our church and taught at my school, but our age difference kept us from being around each other all that much. I was 10 when he died- only 1/3 of my life, as of now. Yet his life made an impact on mine. When I think of Jesse, I am reminded that while I may not have much time to influence another person's life, time is really not the more critical element. God can use us in each others' lives even in seemingly short amounts of time.
3. The instruction (intentional and unintentional) an adult can model to a child.
- There are things that Jesse did 20+ years ago that are preserved in my memory. Sometimes, he was specifically trying to teach me a lesson. Most of the time, however, he was simply living life, and a little brother saw important principles modeled. Some things Jesse taught me:
- By playing basketball with me on back to back days (going all the way up to 100 by 2's!), he taught me how foolish a person looks when he has a bad attitude after losing a game.
- By caring for others regardless of what they had to offer him, he taught me to love others without partiality.
- By talking, laughing, joking, being stupid, he taught me to enjoy life and to include others in that fun.
- By inflating (with just his lungs) a 7' tall dinosaur for Vacation Bible School, he taught me that having a servant's heart means just doing what needs to be done without caring about who knows what you've accomplished.
- By inviting me and a friend to stay while his wife was visiting her family, by playing with us in the park and by buying us donuts, he taught me that little things can make another person's day.
- By leaving behind so many good memories in others' minds, Jesse taught me that a person's influence can continue much past their time on earth.
If I could go back 20 years and somehow keep the crash from happening, I would. Who wouldn't? No one wants things like this to happen. Yet as I look back, there are lessons that I only learned because of the crash. I am grateful for those lessons and am privileged to share them today- January 27, 2015.