As I sit here in a coffee shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, my heart can’t help but to hurt. With tears in my eyes, knots in my stomach and shaking hands, I look back to Tuesday night when I got the news that a close friend, a Marine, a son, and a man of God was killed by another Marine. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s a feeling like no other. It’s a pain like no other. It feels like nothing short of a nightmare.
I knew the time of spiritual warfare would come because I recently moved to a missions school. I knew that the enemy will do anything in his power to get me to leave this school because the last thing he wants is the gospel to be shared… but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen my first week of school. And let me tell you… he almost won. I had it all planned out. I would go home to mourn with mine and Ethan’s church and come back to Bethany in the fall semester. I wanted and still want nothing more. Trying to mourn being surrounded by strangers is rough, but I got an encouragement from a lovely friend, “the Lord knew the events would be in this order. He knows you’re strong enough to be there and intercede from there.” and although this is hard to swallow, it’s so true.
Although we have many, my favorite and most bittersweet memory of Ethan was when we were both a part of my church’s play, Novel. It was based in the 80’s and we were both extras. We dressed to the nines and I was privileged to be his dance partner. Nearly every practice (there were dozens), he would make fun of me for being able to see straight over my head because I’m so short and trying to tickle me because I’m not ticklish. He was convinced he would get me to laugh (I always did because he always failed, not because I was ticklish haha).
I recently saw an article about Ethan saying he was a “ray of sunshine,” which touched my heart because it so accurately describes him.
A ray of sunshine. I love that so much. Ethan was nothing short of that. He was so kind and his generosity was almost abnormal at times because I never once saw him be selfish. I went to a Social Club Misfits concert with him and a few others and because I couldn’t afford it at the time, he bought me VIP. It was so unexpected but I was so excited because that meant I could meet them!
Ethan’s favorite worship song was Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. If you haven’t heard it, you need to. Here’s the link.
Cory heard of the news and sent a video to We Are One (our church’s youth ministry). “I haven’t stopped crying, I’m weeping with you guys, I’m crying with you guys, I’m praying for you guys.” “The thing that I felt from the Father that where there is pain, there is the Comforter.” Ethan’s last tweet was wanting to win his record so Cory sent it over to us. It was overwhelmingly kind of him and so heart-felt that he wanted to mourn with us.
I never wanted nor expected to live in a world without Ethan. There’s an overwhelming amount of hurt as a result of his death, but there is also an overwhelming amount of joy that he is without a doubt, happier than earthly possible in his new home – Heaven.
The night of his death, I was reminiscing on the last time I hugged him. It was a Wednesday night at youth and I had no idea he was going to be there. I ran to him excitedly and hugged him with joy that he was home. The words that replayed in my mind an excruciating amount of times was “I wish I could hug him one last time.” As a friend was praying over me, I got a vision of just that. Ethan had his arms wrapped around me hugging me in a way that made me feel like everything’s going to be alright. I know it will, but I also know that it’ll take time.
I’m endlessly thankful that the pure emptiness I’ve been feeling can be filled with the Holy Spirit simply by the call of His name. This is so beautiful to me / that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and waits for the call of His name to come and fill us.
My heart is shattered into a million pieces for Ethan’s family. His father’s only child was taken out of this world by the hands of another person, another Marine. I can’t imagine. His mother. His grandparents. I’m so broken for them. My heart aches so terribly for them.
But the good news, aside from his glorious new home, he left a legacy behind.
This was just who Ethan was. He loved Jesus and loved His people. It was so evident. Ethan’s life touched literally thousands of people and led one (that I know of) to Jesus through his death. He was so special. He was so loved.
My song for Ethan’s friends, family and loved ones is New Life by SEU Worship. It’s the song that I played over and over the night of his death. It says “You bring new life into a broken heart, You bring new life to us,” and “You bring faith that fear can’t reach, You bring peace that sets us free.” This is TRUTH. I felt this song so strongly that night because I, along with many others, felt as if all life was stripped from me. But the good news is that Jesus brings new life! Although it doesn’t make sense and although it hurts like no other, Jesus is still so good. I’ve had to constantly remind myself of this the past few days.
In the words of Ethan Barclay,
“All I have to do is trust in Him and know that whatever happens, happens for His good and according to His Will and even though it might hurt, everything happens for a reason.
We can’t lean on our own understanding because He has a plan and it’s 10x better than what we think would be good for ourselves.
It’s just like the story of Job; we might think that whatever is happening could never get better, but then because of His faithfulness in God, He got blessed with everything he had plus more.”
Ethan’s death is a loss for us, but it’s a gain for Heaven. I can’t imagine how overjoyed all of Heaven was to have Ethan home. His coming was awaited and utterly anticipated. He’s home.
I love you, Ethan Andrew Barclay-Weberpal. Each day I am more excited to see you again and hug you again. Until then, I promise to do everything in my power to leave your legacy behind everywhere I go. It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later. Oh, how I can’t wait for that day.
For those who are willing and wanting to help, there’s a GoFundMe for Ethan; here’s the link.
If you can’t financially be help, as I previously said, please just cover the family in your prayers. Tell his story to others. Let’s never let Ethan’s legacy stop.