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Friday, December 9, 2011

Zach Dill: 8/26/1993-12/8/2011

I pray that I have accurately portrayed this man's life. I pray for his family having to go through this tragedy. I pray for those who were closer to him than I ever was. I pray for all of his friends, for all who he had left a mark on. From my friendship with him, this is what I have come to grips with. This is my memory. This is how I will cope. May the Peace of Christ rule in our hearts.

Zach, Myself, and Ben at CIY 2011

Every youth group has that one kid; that one guy that you can always count on to do something ridiculous. He’s the life of the party.  Everyone loves the guy.

Every school has that one kid; that one guy you can always count on to be there for you in your struggles. He’s the caring soul, the shoulder to cry on, and at the end of the conversation will always make you smile… even if it’s just a little.

No one ever knows the things that go on in his mind, the feelings he has, and the emotions that flood his conscience. He’s always willing to take on the extra burden of another's sorrow, he’s always smiling. The kind of guy who appears he could never break.

He never has it all together, but he doesn’t have to. He is the helping hand; the knight that rides in at the right time. The pains that hide behind the shining armor were only known by a trusted few, because that’s all he needed.
Always charismatic.
The epitome of a guy many would love to be, the guy many would love to be with.

Zach Dill was that guy.

I first met Zach just over a year ago, and throughout this past year had the privilege to get to know a little about him. Our friendship never went very deep, he was in high school, had his friends around him and I was the new guy in the church who graduated high school and was waiting for college to start. The crazy thing was that I almost immediately saw in him what everyone else saw in him. He was a genuine guy. However, being a sponsor in the youth group I got to see the reason behind it all.

Zach was a regular attender at Ignite, the youth group I was a part of as a sponsor and helper. It’s a new, growing church. The youth group was small but meaningful. Zach was an important part of our identity. I remember Wednesday nights where before the lesson we would play Cornhole, talk about how the week was going and that crazy place called High school. It always seemed to end in our favorite game of pegging Ben with the beanbags. I loved the guy.

During the lesson we could always count on him saying something hilarious or just poking fun at the things the younger girls said, his sarcasm was perfect for just about any situation. When it came down to getting serious, it was obvious that his answers and attentiveness were sincere. He wasn’t there just for the fun and games. He came because God meant something to him. He came because he wanted to grow, to understand. He wanted to be able to help others.

He traveled with us to a weeklong youth conference in July in Tennessee, before the conference started we went white water rafting on the Ocoee River. I fell out once and got my knee caught between the boat and a rock. Zach was one of the guys that were there to immediately pull me back into the boat… later I returned the favor.

That week is instilled into my mind.
I remember the man cave and phrases like “Hip ciricles!” and “Par Four!” Things you just had to be there for in order to understand. I remember ‘planking’ with him back when ‘planking’ was the cool thing to do… everywhere... and how he almost “face-planked” during one of the Devo times. I remember the Nerf wars that happened just about every night in the dorm rooms we were staying in, and in the RV as we traveled around. I remember the wall ball games: I can’t even begin to count all the games we played of that during free time and at night. I remember meeting a guy named Duc, and how Zach and Ben immediately thought he was coolest guy ever. I was able to witness that friendship being forged. I remember on the road trip back playing poker and it always coming down to me and Zach at the end… what can I say? We both had good poker faces. I remember the youth group time after the evening session where we just talked about our day together and got devotional on a few topics. I remember Zach praying. I remember him always speaking up in those moments just to keep the conversation flowing. I remember his encouraging remarks to everyone throughout the week.

I remember him opening up his CIY Kingdom Worker card: “Send an encouraging note to someone on facebook every day for a year.”

It’s hard to believe he’s gone.

It’s even harder to accept it.

He was a blessing to many. Just reading the posts on his facebook from others has shown that to me.

The last time I saw him was the Sunday before I left for college in August. I remember giving him a bro-hug as I said goodbye. It never crossed my mind that that would be my last in person memory of him. I’m drawn to the words of a song written by Michael W. Smith, “Though you are mourning, and grieving your loss/ Death died a long time ago/ Swallowed in life, so his life carries on/Still, it's so hard to let go.”
Though it’s in these moments we want to cry out, “Why!?” to whoever will give an answer that we can accept, I think it would be an insult to his memory to think that way. He wouldn’t want us wallowing. He would have asked if he could help. He would have stood next to us and said something encouraging, something positive in all of this. That’s the kind of person he was in the presence of those he cared about. We will miss him. We are hurt, devastated that he’s gone. But thankful.

Thankful for a life well lived. Thankful for the beauty of 18 years of life. Thankful for his life living in and through our memories of him.

We can’t forget. I can’t forget. The good lord gives and the good lord takes away… and I’m thankful that Zach is no longer in pain, but in celebration.

Celebrating with all of those who have gone before him.

Let us celebrate our memories of him. Let us celebrate our individual friendships with him. Let us celebrate the mystery and majesty of life.

Zach, we love you. We always will. We’ll miss you, but we will never forget your legacy you left in our hearts and our lives.

As we come to this crossing, pray. Pray for the family that has been affected, the friendships that have been buried in confusion and sorrow. Pray for peace. Pray for love. Pray.

The same song continues to play in the back of my mind:
This was his time. This was his dance. He swam in the sea, drank of the deep. He lived every moment leaving nothing to chance. He embraced the mystery of life, let us follow that lead.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you Zach: wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing: into those Heavenly doors.
Lamb of God
You take away the sins of the world
Have mercy on us.
Grant us peace.

1 comment:

  1. In Christ Alone our hope is found. For Christ has come, died, and resurrected. It is the hope of the resurrection of Christ that we live, even more that we can live on. RIP Zach, and I await the day to see your smile when we meet again.
    What heights of love, what depths of peace. When fears are stilled, when strivings cease. Our Comforter, our All in All. Here in the love of Christ we will stand.