A mere 48 hours prior to Zachary’s incident on June 21st, 2022, another life blow landed upon our hearts. During a special Father’s day trip to visit my brother-in-law, rather than meeting with the warmth of his smile and a sandwich at Denny’s, this Father’s day menu only offered the gut punch in this final exit home – Gone My brother-in-law, taken by death – or was it true life into the bosom of the Lord.
In strength and honor, my father-in-law, Mr. Brown sitting here with his last close blood relative, Melanie, my most delightful wife, is his youngest and only remaining child. He is 87. In 6 short years, he lost his wife, his daughter and his son. Milton Brown knows grief, and I respect and honor his ability to keep it together through all of his loss. He is amazing… The prominent Stevenson clan has been blessed wonderfully by size and will endure strong – thanks be to God – All of you are very blessed.
Many folks here today have their own stories of pain and grief, as the older we get, the more we understand that death is part of life – never reconciling with our hearts, just barely understanding in our minds.
My Soul, my God-inspired being, all that makes me “ME,” has been immensely blessed by my oldest son Zachary Lyon Jr. Yet I stand before you, a seriously injured father, by the passing of my son Zachary Lyon Jr. As many before me have said, “it is not supposed to be like this.” ……to which I agree entirely.
We have all been blessed with the few years that we were able to enjoy this special gift of life from God, in the soul of Zachary Wood Lyon Jr.
Eph:1 4-5 assures – listen very closely: Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. Wow! We are left with these words of promise of the incomprehensible Loving nature of God. God who loves and desires that love also betwixt us on earth. This knowledge of God’s deep concern keeps me going. It keeps me from falling apart, so I try to be the best I can be.
Zack Jr. he also lived and loved “bigly.” His heart to help others was God-breathed and very evident in the camaraderie that came so naturally to him. His positive impact on his coworkers and colleagues was massive and his leadership style was that of a servant, leading him to excel at his job – A True servant leader. He was “one of a kind” – uniquely Zack.
Zack’s Authenticity, his willingness to be transparent, his expressing his brotherly love, and exampled by his deep family loyalty and steadfast sincerity makes his parting a mammoth loss to us all. Likening to a meteor hitting the firmament with celestial speed and energy, leaving behind a colossal gaping hole in our hearts. He leaves a legacy of having deeply touched the souls of both of his families - His natural family and his Airforce family.
Through his exercising of Truth, Love, Loyalty, Sincerity, Authenticity, Honor, and Respect – Zachary left us with HIS rendition of these Godly traits to ponder and share in the stories of his short life.
As Isaiah 55 also informs us: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways.”
I have ruminated on that passage a lot. By GOD’s design, I will never totally understand these words left by Him for us to consider, yet, I am sure they were meant to linger on our minds in a moment such as this to keep us humble and in awe. Evident is the fog of the mystery of God’s ways, which is that no matter how studious and religious you may tell yourself that you are, you do not truly know the full nature of God. Yet we have His words recorded for our glimmering of understanding if we seek them. In times like this, we can be angry and disillusioned about the meaning of life, or we can accept the things we cannot control – accepting upon Faith that He desires to soothe our souls. Faith in the words left behind by the LOVE of Zachary, and the source of love who is GOD, that created THE Word, Christ Jesus. In this Love, I do have faith, and THIS love KNOWS and created Zachary before the Cosmos ever existed. That to me, is a very “BIGLY” concept to grasp.
Standing helpless by my son’s bedside, wrenched by the gut punch to his mother and myself, and all of his family members to have to make the call to let him go so unexpectedly. Gazing upon Zachary’s brokenness, at that very moment, it hit me; I truly and deeply understood God’s love as His pain is NOW my pain, and the depth of Jesus’ love exampled for each one of us seared my soul. Empathizing with God’s anguish and gut-wrenching agony as he, too, gazed upon his Son to slowly die upon the cross of salvation. Some will say, “so that our sins are washed away” on this I would agree… Yet for a much bigger purpose, because of the “Bigly” purpose of demonstrating his bottomless abiding love for each of us. In that moment, I SAW God in a new and vivid light on June 22nd 2022.. I felt HIS pain at the deepest and most profound level; I empathized with God’s pain seeing Jesus’s broken body and waning; as I lost MY son, this moment in time brought a new understanding.
Zachary had the foresight to make sure if he had to leave us early, his legacy would literally live on in his “BIGLY” way. Today, he lives in others through the generous gifts of life and love.
I always wonder why such seemingly “on top of the world” “good” people get called to their forever home at such a young age with a vast and excellent life ahead of them. In the blink of an eye, cut short…. No instruction sheet on how we are to live without them. Yet, one of the mysteries of life is death… Maybe this is one of those life lessons. Let me repeat: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways my ways.”
I take comfort in God’s words because each day spent is one day closer to joining again with Zachary and all of our loved ones. No more pain, no more pettiness, no more ugliness of life. And, Oh my, the party we will have! God has some good news. John 14: 2-3 In My Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be. Now That is true grace!
My grief of Zachary’s memory has been, at times hourly, and I hope never shall I not taste the salt of my tears in remembrance of the brevity of time that we spent together. It is so hard not to beat myself up saying: “would have, should have, could have.” Yet, Zachary would not approve of these thoughts of regret, nor did I teach him to be that way.
I know when I say this, I am speaking the words right out of my son’s mouth. “Go forth, do great things, strive to be better than you thought you could ever be. Live a life of no regrets, love your family and friends “bigly” and forgive again and again.
1 Cor 15:54-55 Death has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ. Where O’ Death is thy victory. Where O’ death is thy sting.
May the road always rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face dear son,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again, Zachary
May the Lord keep you in his hallowed hands
Each day forward I Zachary, I extend my deepest, most abiding love.
Keep the lights on for me.
In Loving Memory of Zachary Wood Lyon, Jr.