by ray warren lathem III
“I remember safety security
I remember a feeling so strong
At times I couldn’t sleep
And then as quickly as it had begun
my love was ended.
Leaving a pit of constant turmoil
That i feared would engulf me.
my sanity lost its hold
And i slipped into the chasm
Leaving me exposed to the whims of the world
i became what i feared most
A monster leaving nothing
But pain and resentment in my wake
I trampled over emotions
I was vengeful and full of spite
I was a god and had no room for others
I heard the cries of those above me
screaming into my cell
I saw them reaching for me
trying to salvage my soul
To fall was simple It required little
To rise up seemed impossible
And so i stayed in my hole finding comfort
Losing all memory of what i had before
That which kept the pit closed for so long
And continued on towards oblivion
But then in the mist of my destruction
i heard a single solitary voice
Singing sweetly and soft…
and there is hope.”
20 years ago today my brother, along with 109 other souls, died in the Valujet plane crash. Shortly after takeoff the plane nosedived into the murky, muddy waters of the Everglades swamp. I had fallen asleep watching TV when my mother woke me, telling me we needed to get the house ready, because people would be coming over. It took her awhile, but she finally told me about the plane crash. I rushed downstairs to the den and turned on CNN. They were showing an arial view of the crash site. There was no plane. Just a few white items floating in the water. The Everglades seemed to have swallowed up the entire plane. Needless to say, my life was forever changed.
The poem above was written by my brother, Ray Lathem, a couple of years before he was killed. Since his death, the poem has taken on a very special meaning to my family. In particular, the last line, “and there is hope.” What I saw when I looked at the Everglades that Saturday in 1996 was a black abyss. A place of no hope. Over the next 20 years I discovered that there is no pit, no hole, no death that can quiet that lullaby that tells us, “and there is hope.”
The disciples saw a very similar thing after Jesus was laid in his tomb. Death. Darkness. Loss. Quiet. But then, hope reminded them that it could not be killed. It could not be quieted. It could not be snuffed out. Over the last 20 years Jesus has been singing a soft lullaby to me. “And there is hope.” At times it was so hard for me to hear. At times it was hard for me to believe. Yet, today I can boldly proclaim, there is hope and it is found in Jesus Christ and no place else.
I spent a decade after my brother’s death lost in sin and depravity, and yet that lullaby was still being sung. Eventually, I took it in and it forever changed my life. It is because of this hope that I met my beautiful bride and we had 3 amazing kids. It is because of this hope that I have been able to preach the Good News for the last 7 years, and it is because of this hope that we now turn our attention to a brand new adventure in Tampa, FL. Hope. In Jesus there is always hope. As my father said while being interviewed after the plane crash, “We are Easter people.”
Ray was an Easter person. I am an Easter person. I pray you are too.
And there is hope.