An old friend from Fargo was killed in his home early Tuesday morning. I know I'm not the only one asking questions, thinking the "what ifs?" and still just reeling over Tuesday morning's events. I've been refreshing newsfeeds and news websites more frequently than I care to admit, searching for answers, information, anything. Anything that will bring Sam and his story to life.
But then I'm reminded of the reality of what occurred, and the incredible community supporting one another, his family, and all those who Sam befriended. And to top it all off, as one of my closest friends said regarding his final act of love, "There he was giving Jesus a drink of water. I mean there's no doubt in my mind he went straight to heaven with that single act."
Where to begin with a guy like Sam Traut? I think Norm says it beautifully here. Sam truly was "a Saint among us." He, more than almost any other person I know, was the first to jump in and help accomplish a goal, but always brought a joyful and intentional spirit of friendship. He always seemed to have his priorities in order, valuing relationships of his family, friends, classmates, and most importantly - God. I remember thinking on more than a few occasions, "Man, I should really learn how to enjoy time with my friends and just being the way that Sam Traut does." He never seemed to let life cause him stress, he just loved. He loved the present moment. He loved each person he met. And I know he answered the door on Tuesday morning out of love. A true love for his neighbor, in every sense of the word.
As Josh Garrels has been speaking to my soul through his lyrics today, I found both solace and heartache in these words:
Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
and Jesus cries because he loves 'em both
There is no doubt that Jesus weeps at this incident: not only at the tragic taking of Sam's life, but that a man whose soul he died to save would risk his life to take another. Jesus cries because he loves them both. So hard to accept, nearly impossible to wrap my mind around. But I would be a fool to turn back on God after all he has given me, and the many walls he has broken down in my own heart to see him in other people, regardless of who they are or where they live. Shame on me for feeling hatred for a man, when instead I should feel sorrow, sadness and pain at the emptiness that led up to this tragic turn of events.
Luckily, as a reminder for each of us, this song finishes with an immense amount of hope:
Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
and even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me
As much and as well as Sam loved others during his 24 years in this life, there is solace knowing that now, in union with God he is free to love perfectly once and for all. Sam's ability to love is no longer confined by space and time, but he truly is free to love with Christ's love - each and every person, outside of earthly limits. Sam, with his missionary heart, reminds me of the words of the Little Flower:
"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth."Sam, thank you for being a model of Christ and imitating Him with every selfless act. Bring to completion the good work that you've begun on earth and continue to show us the Father's love.
Let us continue to lift Sam's family, friends, and community in prayer. Too, let us pray for the conversion of Ashley Hunter, even if for no other reason than because Jesus loves them both.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. - Jesus