Keepin’ the Faith: Senior led by Fathers’ spirits

By Honor Heindl 2009

It was Friday, May 30 of last year. Senior Chris Pierce was shooting hoops at Cedar Heights with a couple friends after baseball practice when a phone call would end life as he knew it forever.

“When I got home, I saw my aunt’s car in the driveway. I went inside where I saw her with my mom standing in the kitchen. They didn’t say anything until I asked what was wrong.
My aunt told me that there had been an accident at my dad’s work, and he didn’t make it,” Chris said.

Later at the hospital, they were told he had been blindsided by a railcar.

“After what seemed like forever, we got to see him. He had no imperfections. It looked like he could’ve gotten up and come home with us. But he didn’t. We told him that we loved
him, that weíd never forget him and kissed him good-bye.”

Despite the emptiness and ache left from the absence of such a significant life, school, friends and community members helped reel Chris and his family back in, supporting and loving them in any way they could.

“At first I lost it. I couldn’t control my emotions at all. As a guy you’re always told you’re not supposed to cry. But I did. I didn’t care that I was grieving in public.

With the support of the community, I was able to remember the good times in life that I shared with my dad. However, the first time I played a baseball game again was very emotional for me. When I looked out towards the bleachers, I knew I wouldn’t see Dad. When I went to bat, the parents filled in for his loud voice by encouraging me to, well, hit the ball. I am glad that they did that. Baseball temporarily took my mind off my life and to focus on a simple game that my dad taught me,” he said.

This common ground came with many cherished memories and an unbreakable father-son friendship and love.

“He’s probably the reason why it’s my favorite sport. My mom always tells stories about how he would teach my brother and me how to throw, bat, field and run the bases. Later, this translated into IBL (Iowa Baseball League). He was my coach for a couple of years, but I never called him coach—always dad. One thing he liked to do before games was have a team prayer in the dugout. I just liked to listen to the prayer. It made it seem that God was on our side.”

Though his faith was tested with his father’s death, Chris was able to put his life completely into his heavenly Father’s hands.

“I knew that God was right there all along. This is reinforced by my favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 4:9 which says, ‘We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.’  I know God will be there in both our finest hour and our darkest hour. It’s kind of like that footprints in the sand poem. During the difficult periods of someone’s life there is only one set of footprints. That set belongs to God, because He is carrying them through the difficult times.”

Kim Pierce, Chris’s mother, feels Christ is the only solid ground one can rely on in a world where anything and anyone can be taken away from you at any time.

“These last 10 months have been hard. But we have found they aren’t impossible since each day comes one at a time. Last May 30 started like any other day. Who knew by 5:30 p.m. our lives would be changed forever. Christopher did not have a chance to say goodbye. He lives with his dad in his heart. He doesn’t seem to have the need to visit the cemetery often because that isn’t where his dad is,” she said.

“Nothing in life is a sure thing nor is your life totally in your control. You have to give it (problems solving that Dad’s do, feeling cheated out of a Dad, not having him there for you and your siblings) up to God because it is too much to handle on your own.  One needs some kind of higher help.  If one does not have that, this journey will be thousands of times harder than it already is.”

Last summer, his family traveled to the small town of Leadville, Colo., where Chris grew deeper in his faith after reading John Eldredge’s novel Wild at Heart.

“This book talks about how to gain the masculine heart through God. I found something that I never knew I was looking for. It formed a whole new appreciation for God and all of his creations. I saw this as an opening to new things. God doesn’t want me to be scared. He wants me to go out and explore the Earth and take some chances.”

When CF grad, Brett Williams, approached Chris, asking if he’d be willing to speak at Nazareth’s Good Friday service, he realized this was one of those chances. Even though his loss of a father, a coach, a mentor and a friend will always be there, the experience has challenged Chris to live his life to the fullest and live it for both his earthly father and his Father in heaven.

“Part of Eldredge’s message is that we need to live as God designed, which is to be dangerous, passionate, alive and free. This past year I have learned to avoid being judgmental and try to be more optimistic. I don’t try to judge people by their cover anymore; there is more to people than that. Something else this whole ordeal taught me is to make the most out of life. We have this one shot at glory, so we better not waste it. It’s what you do in your collection of moments on Earth that makes your life what it is. I want to fill my moments with devotion to the community, self and God.”

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