5 years ago today the Lord took home a precious brother. BJ Higgins was a fellow God-follower, a brother, son and faithful friend. We traveled to Peru together in 2005. The Lord was gracious that summer to assemble an INCREDIBLE team of personalities and people that would become life long friends. I spent the first few weeks of the trip teasing him and poking fun. About half way through the summer, we had a heart to heart about my teasing hurting him, and he made a pledge to push me to Christ and encourage me as best he could. The last few weeks were so fun. We saw the Lord do incredible things that summer. Many, many people came to know the Lord and we were privileged to watch and eager and faithful to share. BJ was a beast. He was not scared or timid… but bold and brave.
Soon after we returned home that summer, BJ became sick. At first, it looked like pneumonia and he was treated for that. He entered the hospital and our team was alerted to pray. At that point, all of us had full faith that the Lord would heal him and we’d all rejoice together at a reunion in November. But a long six weeks later, after many ups and downs, BJ’s body was released from this earthly struggle, only a few days before his 16th birthday. For those 6 weeks, his parents and sisters sat by his side and prayed for healing. Friends and family across the world prayed for the Lord to intervene and show His face. He did show His face… just differently than we had thought. God was faithful through the entire process. He was close to BJ family and was faithful to accomplish His purposes in life and death.
I never once believed that the Lord wouldn’t heal BJ, that I wouldn’t see him again. But the Lord had other plans. I was so confused and deeply hurt for a long time. I could not understand why the Lord would choose to take BJ. BJ loved God more than I did – he deserved to live. But in November, at the reunion we planned to share as a team with BJ present, his parents came and shared about their journey. His mom sang, “I’ll Praise You in the Storm” and we wept. What a testimony that she could say that. For the first time that weekend I realized that it was the Lord’s will to take BJ home. The Lord would receive more glory in his death than his life. While that thought helps me rationalize, it has never eased the pain. It has brought me more peace and a deeper understanding of God’s working, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still hurt.
The Higgins have become very dear people to me. Soon after his homegoing, BJ’s family moved to Tulsa, OK to begin a partnership with Awe Star Ministries, the very organization that we traveled with that summer. They have since written a book about his life and ministry. BJ Higgins was an exceptional young man. He loved the Lord more than anything else – even his own life. We realized after that summer that BJ did not need to be the exception for how to serve the Lord. His devotion and desire for the Lord were not abnormal, but exactly what Scripture requires. God MUST be the greatest desire of my heart. He MUST be more important than anything else. Living for anything, or settling for anything less mocks the cross and marks my grace covered life as wasted.
I’m remembering my friend today. He taught me so much that summer about how to love Christ better, but he has taught me even more in the last 5 years.