My One Haunting Question

424568_4112495902031_671544537_nThree short days ago, I lost my dear friend.

In the blink of an eye, he was gone.

Ken left behind a beautiful family… and SCORES of friends. 

We’re talking thousands here. Literally. Tens of hundreds of precious people, the overwhelming majority of whom are kids — students, teenagers, middle/junior high and high school students — whose lives will never be the same. This because at some divinely-appointed moment-in-time, their lives intersected with his.

I do take some solace in the fact that Ken died the way he lived. Full throttle, loving life, breezing down the highway on a crisp Winter’s day, probably singing if not praying, with the wind at his back and a wide open road at his front, bright blue skies glistening above him, and his beloved motorcycle sputtering beneath him.

Ken’s dear wife posted this on Facebook: “When he left on Sat. I told him ‘be careful and the cops will be out’. His response was ‘Yes, dear’. The kiss and he was gone.”

He was gone.

Gone from her; gone from so many, many of us.

One freak accident, in one brief instant, frozen in time, that changed everything.

That was Saturday. I am writing this on the following Tuesday. Trying desperately to process that one logic-defying, reason-tormenting, faith-testing, emotionally-draining question… Why?

Why Ken?

Why him?

Why now?

And coming to no conclusions.

Having given so much to so many with so much left to give to so many others, Why?

Why Ken?

Why him?

Why now.

It simply does not make sense.

Look, I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years, and over that span of three decades I’ve done my fair share of funerals. I’ve worked for a funeral home. I was the go-to-guy when accidents like this happened, to make what is called in the industry, “the removal.” I’m supposed to be desensitized to this sort of thing. Part of the circle of life right? You’re born, you live, you die. I get that. I have always gotten that.

But never have a I gotten that when it’s a guy like Ken.

You’re my friend, right? At least, if nothing else, we’ve briefly connected on this website. So I can be honest with you, yes? As I ever-so-briefly descend into the nether-reaches of my sometimes darkened mind?

OK. How’s this for honesty? You want names? I could give you names. I want to give you names. But I won’t. Frankly, I don’t want to be sued. But I could tick off for you more names than I have fingers or toes on which to count them. Names of those who over the years, from my frame of reference, live to torment people. As they travel the well-worn sod of this troubled world we share, these unnamed individuals leave in their wakes the wreckage of broken lives — family members, co-workers, neighbors, friends or acquaintances — people whom they have gleefully destroyed. Used. Abused. Mistreated. Taken advantage of. Damaged in some way. And then wadded them up and threw them away. Without so much as giving it a thought.

Some of them even ride motorcycles. 

And yet, like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep going, and going, and going; pouring ever more blood on their already red-stained fingers.


I know it doesn’t sound very pastor-like to suggest that the world would be a better place — a bit brighter and a far more joyful place — if certain individuals made an early exit of this life and went to their just deserts. (Yes, that is the correct spelling. 1 “s”; not 2.) So I won’t suggest it. (Even though you just gave me your permission to be honest.) 

But I will suggest that less than 72 hours ago, this little blue ball of a planet of ours got a little dimmer, even as Heaven got a bit brighter, when Ken departed this world and entered the next.

Look up Ken in the dictionary and you’ll probably find these stunningly inadequate definitions: Hero (the real kind; not the media-manufactured kind); Father-figure; Role model; Bright and shining example of Christ-like love; Humility personified; Faithfulness; the Fruit of the Spirit on constant display; Real, Genuine, Authentic, What you see is what you get; and Boy-What-A-Laugh.


Why Ken?

Why him?

Why now?

Frankly, if it’s any consolation, I know that the psalmist who wrote, “So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! (73:16); I know that Job who wrote, “Why do the wicked go on living, grow old, even increase in power? (21:7); I know that Jeremiah who wrote, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (12:1), and I know that other biblical writers who wrote down their equally troubling thoughts, each, in his own way, asked the same haunting question as me. And received the same non-answer.

No, I have no answers. I do not know “Why?”.

Perhaps I don’t need to know. God owes me no explanations. Even though it makes no sense. 

The only sense that I can make of this otherwise senseless loss rests in this promise: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

Yes! Indeed! He’s got it all figured out. Even if I don’t. In other words, He knows why.

Further, I know that James 4:14 is a fact of life. Words written by Jesus’ half-brother, no less. Having lost his sibling to a cruel and senseless Roman execution for a crime  (blasphemy) that Jesus did not commit, James words ring ever so true: “What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears.” In other words, neither God nor life grants any guarantees. 

And yes, there is coming a day — sooner rather than later, I think; sooner rather than later, I hope — when we will finally say a final “Goodbye” to ever having to say “Goodbye” again.

There is coming a day (and for my dear friend, Ken, that day came last Saturday), when God “will wipe every tear from (our) eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4).

So maybe I’m just a wee bit selfish when I allow myself to be haunted by the question, “Why?” Or a tad bit jealous that Ken is riding his bike on golden streets up there while I’m still pounding pavement down here. Or both.

All that being said, on Saturday the soundtrack of Heaven reached a joyous crescendo, while our Earthly sonata sounded somewhat muted for our loss.

Obviously, I am still processing the un-processable. Still pondering the un-ponderable. Still seeking answers to unanswerable questions. You know — questions like… Why?

Why Ken?

Why him?

Why now? 

Any thoughts?


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6 thoughts on “My One Haunting Question

  1. Our days are numbered. God is God. We are not. If you try to think of God’s perspective on the human race, He shows incredible patience and longsuffering with all of us who need His grace. That some remain in darkness and do not ever know His grace is hard to fathom. One day, soon, all will be right and the King will rule the earth for 1000 years. And then, even after that, satan will find those willing to be deceived again. I think that time will show God’s graciousness that He saves any of us. I do believe we do not understand the depth of man’s sinfulness or the depth of the holiness of God. Our minds are too corrupt to see those concepts clearly.
    He hears you and knows the depth of your pain. May He fill you will love and grace for the unlovable and may He comfort you and Ken’s family during your time of grief.

  2. Christy Davis

    I am so so sorry Dewey.

  3. Rawni

    Love you so much. 9 years ago my uncle, who I was named after, died suddenly of a heart attack while in his garbage truck. My dad’s twin. I had never in my life felt that kind of pain. I couldn’t cry enough or scream loud enough. As I spoke at the funeral, to a whole lot of unsaved blue collar guys and family, my thoughts were these: This sucks! It’s okay to think that. It’s okay to just be pissed off and confused. However, life isn’t perfect and bad things happen to good people. We will never understand the way God works or all of the things/events he allows to happen…but we don’t have to. We have to believe in the higher power and that someone is working all things together for good. Because if it wasn’t for the faith I had in Christ I wouldn’t even know how to wrap my head around it…not that I knew how…but I knew I didn’t have to. I knew God was holding me like a father comforts a crying child. He wasn’t taking the pain away, but he was comforting us through it and reassuring me that I would make it. Life would go one and he would always be there. I am comforted by this in many ways, but one of my favorites is when the sun comes out after days of gray in the winter…Uncle Ron’s favorite song was “Here comes the sun”…so on those days that song comes to mind and I am able to remember not only Ron’s love for me and a life full of memories, but God’s love for me because he allows me to think of these things that bring a smile to my face.

    I love your heart Duilio. I know you don’t need advice from me;) I am so grateful for you being so honest and real and open. You are human…like it or not:) But how great is it that we have a God that allows us to be sad adn frustrated and question all while still grabbing onto him and loving him with all of our heart!!!!

  4. Bob & Colleen

    Dear Dewey, we wrestle together in this agony of why’s: “Why Ken? Why him? Why now?” May we find consolation, though infinitesimal it may be, in the fact that at least we are pondering. Isaiah found no such concern among his audience: “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” We do ponder. We do grieve the loss of a dear, righteous man — though, not like men who have no hope.

  5. Randy Braun

    Randy Braun

    First I want to thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I appreciate authenticity as well. I’m not going to answer your questions directly but rather can express my thoughts on this from a personal experience that gave me some perspective.

    February 25, 2012 I was driving home from Hartland Christian Camp at around 10pm. At RMBC we take just our H.S. guys up for Man Academy. A great time to just be guys and not have any distractions with those pretty girls. An all around great time of guy time fun and guy time teaching.
    I had driven up with some students in my 1997 Camry. However, I had plans to return earlier than the others since Sunday was Missions Sunday in RMBC. I was to speak about my upcoming transition to full time missions abroad. Therefore, I traded vehicles with another driver so he could have the seat belt space of my car. I drove his 1998 Toyota pickup. This was an old pickup that had seat belts but to old for airbags. This vehicle played a larger role in the night than anyone would imagine just looking at it.
    Going back to Reedley not far up from the little one lane road that cuts across to the back side of Orosi and Dinuba, I proceeded to roll around some corners and downshift where the little pickup needed help. Top speed was under the posted speed limit as these are known for cornering on rails.
    Anyone who has driven at night in mountains knows that your first clue a car is coming is the glow of head lights from around the other side of a corner. This happened only three times. It was however the third time which became significant. After turning my high beams on low I casually glanced in the direction of the road. At this moment I was face to face with a car directly in front of me in a 100% head on position. At this moment I believed I was about to die. This was my last and final thought before impact.
    At his point I’ll shorten my story. Everyone was going to be okay. However, an ambulance ride, one laceration, a cracked chest, unknown bruised or cracked ribs, and six weeks of severe pain off work resulted.
    During my recovery, in a recliner since I couldn’t lay flat, I had my people tell me, “Praise God your going to be okay, God must not be through with you yet”. I accepted it as easily as they said it. But then a tragedy in Europe took place. A bus full of Christian youth from a youth group was returning in a tunnel from a ski trip and it crashed head on into a wall killing many. At this moment I asked very much the same question as you.
    I asked the question, “God why did I live?” I felt that it made no sense that these young people would so senselessly lose their lives! Because, if God was not finished with me the only logical conclusion on the other side of the coin is that God was done with them. May it not be said! God was NOT finished with them! And, why did I live through a direct head on collision?
    My only peace came with the realization that no matter how I felt about God’s sovereignty He was still sovereign. Simply put I realized that God will call me home one day. That day was not my calling. The why those young people I still don’t understand. But, God in His sovereignty decided for whatever reason that I would remain a little while longer. I will die one day in some way. The how and why is up to Him and Him alone. I live simply and only because of His sovereignty. I also know that in His sovereignty when I go I will go to be with Him.
    There are those who pointed to the little old pickups real metal frame as the case for my survival. They said had I been in my sub-frame Camry I’d never had survived. I heard it all and it all agrees with physics and experience. I choose to know that God is never finished with us. He and He alone decides when and how I will go to be be with Him.
    Wow, I’m sorry for so much rambling here on you blog. I feel your question deeply and am sorry for your great loss. I only hope that I will live a life as impactful as Ken’s. In the word’s of a song by Joel Weldon, “To live and walk like Jesus did, is the best a man can do.”

  6. Steve and Cathi

    Dear Brother in Christ, your honesty is much appreciated! You are a Pastor believer who, while asking why, has answered your own questions. As you shared from the very word of God, you are not the only one who has tried to get an answer to questions such as yours. In response to Job’s questions, God asked, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me, who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!” So, as you have already said, you don’t know WHY. But God DOES! That is our calling….to have the faith and to trust in His ways. Dear Dewey, give yourself time to heal and to adjust to God’s plan for you and for Ken’s family without him. Remain strong in your confidence in the One who felt the immense pain at having to turn away from our beloved Lord Jesus, while He gave not only His physical life for us, but also the eternal spiritual death that each of us deserves. Yet, by His grace, He so willingly took our place. These words are nothing that you don’t already know, but know this…….God is not finished with you yet! What a day that will be, when our Jesus we shall see, for all eternity. And yes, Ken will be waiting for you there!

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