What do you say about a great man?

Thank you for praying for me this week. The death of my friend—our friend—Kevin Walker, Walkit.org, is a monstrous loss. I told a friend today after lunch that there is no way to process Kevin’s life or death with our intellects. walker-kevin-and-julie1

If there was a recipe for greatness then we could bottle it and sell it. If greatness could be defined then we could study it. If greatness could be apprehended then we all could possess it. But there is no recipe, no definition, and no hand hold. Thinking about greatness is illusive. However, greatness can be recognized with the heart.

What made Kevin a great man? His intellect was an aspect of him. I knew him well, but he surprised me regularly with his incisive ability to assemble disparate pieces of information into keen wisdom.

He wasn’t short on emotion and didn’t hesitate to demonstrate what he was feeling. He cried, laughed, loved, touched, and talked readily. Having worked in Eastern Europe for years, I’m somewhat accustomed to being kissed on each cheek by men when they greet me there. But I never quite got over Kevin kissing me on the head and blessing me. The only other person who kisses me on the head and blesses me is God, and I haven’t gotten over that either, but Kevin helped me not resist Him.

Kevin was a good musician, a skillful player, a fine composer, and a gifted lyricist. He and Bobby Price won a Grammy, after all. He led worship like no one else I’ve ever encountered—and I’ve encountered a lot in my profession.

No. Kevin was all of these things, but he was—is—more. He was a man of heart who walked with God, whom he called Papa. This composite, this integration, this blending of all that was in him into an expression of his heart and God’s heart is a decent definition of Kevin. Add a streak of courage, a fiery tenacity, a resilient frame, and the description is closer.

The trouble with great men is that when they pass it catches us off guard. We are left with hard questions that roil inside us in a tumult.

One of the beauties in the passing of a great man is that it holds us accountable to manage what is in our soul versus going about our business as we are prone to do when other men pass from us. If we are not aware, denial of our loss can drown us in their wake. But riding the wave of their loss can wash us with what made them great and transport us to a new place.

Like you if you knew Kevin, I’m suffering my loss. In time, I will stabilize, but I don’t want to cling to a reef of expedient stability--like work, for example, or trite dismissals--in fear of engaging the grieving process.

No. It is not time to drop anchor or search the horizon for a safe harbor. Now is the time to cry for no apparent reason. To recall and laugh. To be quiet. To cling to my friends and bury my face in their necks. Now it is time to celebrate that my Father, in His wisdom, equipped me—and you—with the capacity to grieve and remember tenaciously that He promised to never leave me destitute.

As I do this, then I pay tribute to a great man, who in death created a current to transport me through life. My final words to Kevin were, “I love you. I’ll see you soon.” I thought that meant I would see him on Wednesday. Now, of course, I understand it meant I will see him shortly.