I am a person who likes to mark occasions with words. This makes sense because words are my business. Therefore, I couldn't just put flowers on Andrew's headstone and call it good. I wanted to have a ceremony to dedicate his stone. I wanted to gather some of the people who love him the most, one more time, on that hill overlooking town to say another good-bye.
The following is what I said on that day. I wanted people to know what he was reading during the last days of his life. I wanted to share my thoughts. I wanted to give them a call to action. I just wanted to dedicate my son to God one more time.
We come today to dedicate Andrew’s marker. For me this is not a sad place. Bill and I have spent many evenings here since June 10th. One night we almost got to spend the night, because we got locked in. However, this is not where Andrew is, but I feel his spirit here when I visit. This is our place to come to remember him, but I firmly believe that his spirit is in Heaven and will be there waiting for the day that we all get to see him again.
Tom—would you ask God’s blessing on our time here today?
Before Andrew died, he was reading and the things he was reading seemed to tell me he was searching for answers. Here are a few things that I found in the book that he was reading last.
• He was reading that God is a God of deliverance. Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord brings you today. Exodus 14:13
• He was reading that God is a God of infinite support. I will be your God throughout your lifetime…I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Isaiah 46:4
• He was reading that God is a God of transformation. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is. Romans 12:2
• He was reaing that God is a God of recovery and restoration. He will renew your life and sustain you. Ruth 4:15
• He was reading that God is a God of constant companionship. …How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me! Psalm 139 17-18
• He was reading that God is a God of refuge and comfort. The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. Nahum 1:7
Until the day comes that we meet Andrew again, we will never know what was on his mind the morning of June 7. But he was a boy who was searching for answers in God’s word and in His will. That is why I believe that Satan wanted him so badly; he did what ever he had to do to put doubt in Andrew’s mind. Like Bob said the Sunday after we lost Andrew—Satan is a big fat liar, but on that morning Andrew forgot that. And if we allow all the darkness that he enveloped Andrew with on June 7 to take over our lives—and for me personally to question how tough we were on him or what words I said that I would love to take back--then Satan has not only won over Andrew, but he’s won us as well. And I for one will not allow that to happen. I truly believe that God battled Satan for Andrew and God won. I truly believe Andrew is in Heaven and God has a plan for all of us. The pain will not go away, but we do not have to bear the pain alone. We need to ask God for help. Even though I feel extreme sadness at Andrew not being here with us, I feel extreme peace knowing that he is wrapped in God’s loving arms. And whatever pain overcame Andrew, that pain is gone.
Over the past year I have questioned organized religion. I see so many people claiming to be Christians who are very un-Christ like. They are full of pride and self, rather than God. But I must remember that God is not religion--God is God. He is powerful.
• the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12
• compassionate. Exodus 22:27
• the Lord who heals you. Exodus 15:26
• will strengthen you. Isaiah 45:5
• the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17
• is merciful…Jeremiah 3:12
• the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Him? Jeremiah 32:27
So on this day that we dedicate Andrew’s marker and give us all a place to come to remember him, I ask you to remember how much we love Andrew. And ever though Andrew took his life, we must remember that he did not take ours. We still have a life to live. We have children amongst us who need our strength and our wisdom to help them grow. We have siblings and friends who are here to support us when times are difficult.
Before I ask Bob to close our time together, I have two verses that I feel sum up my faith that I will see Andrew again. I believe there is a plan for all of us; we just have to be open to see the things God puts before us.
In Jeremiah 29:11 it is written…“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you future and a hope.”
And in Isaiah 40:31
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Will you take the hand of someone next to you? Bob, will you close with prayer?
And so it ended. But before we left, Andrew's best friend asked if he could put something on the grave. I told him of course. He had a golf ball and a tee that he placed next to the stone. I felt it would be okay, but Bill was afraid it would get disturbed by the animals or hit by the lawn mower. So the next morning I walked up to his grave to retrieve it so Bill could attach it permanently. When I got home, I looked at it closer. It had Andrew Groom printed on the ball. What a precious dedication to him. And in addition to that, how precious was the love for my son that people shared on the day we dedicated his stone.