Their story gripped me from the very beginning.
The headline itself, describing their plight, was full of enough foreboding to leave a pit of sorrow in my stomach for the rest of the day: “Elderly Georgia Couple Missing After Trip to Buy Craigslist Car“.
And the minute that click of my mouse took me from headline to news source and my eyes locked upon their picture, a sob escaped from my mouth.
“God, no!” I begged, tears spilling onto my cheeks.
I jumped away from my computer, burned by my heart’s reaction to the faces featured in the photograph.
There was just something about their picture. The way he peered into the camera like many of the men I know and love. The way they were dressed. The kindness in their eyes.
They looked like my sort of people.
They looked like family.
And now that I am better acquainted with their story and who they are and what they believe, I am realizing that “family” is exactly what they are.
Bud and June Runion were devout believers, my brother and my sister in the faith, and I think my heart recognized that from the very start.
But on that first day, I could not bear to even imagine what they were enduring and I quickly walked away from my computer, trying desperately to shut out the sick dread and worry that threatened to overwhelm me on their behalf.
It didn’t work.
Bud and June and their well-being had made an immediate home in my heart and I could not get them out of my mind. Thoughts turned to prayers, and the prayers became a vigil, of sorts, as the weekend dragged by with countless wishes for good news from Georgia.
Therefore, by the time Monday’s sobering story emerged that their bodies had been located, I, a girl who has never even met them, wept in anguish.
The injustice of their end threatened to suffocate me, the empathy was crippling and, judging by the number of people who have been outraged and saddened by this story, I was not alone in my grief.
We hear sad stories about people we don’t know every single day, stories that cause us to stop for a moment and say a prayer for a family far away, stories that remind us this world is not perfect, stories that receive a moment of silence in an otherwise hectic day before we move on and forget…
but Bud and June’s story was different, wasn’t it?
It certainly was for me.
Their story cut deep, inexplicably reaching me at the level where groans reside, so that I can say with certainty that I am a different woman today than I was before I had heard of Bud and June Runion.
Their death changed something in me, flipping a switch that awakened something new in my heart, something so big and so mysterious that I have never fully grasped before, and it is simply this:
We were not made for this world.
This is not a new concept, nor is it one I am unfamiliar with.
I feel the stings from this truth all the time, I KNOW in my brain and from the Word of God that it is so, but here’s the thing, and if you have been a reader here for long, you’ll recognize this as a familiar struggle: if I’m being honest, “not being made for this world” is a reality that I have tried and tried and tried and tried to suppress, for my entire life.
I say I believe it on Sundays and after Bible readings, but then I go out and fall in love with this present world all over again, I stick my fingers in my ears, I put on my rose-colored glasses and I play pretend that I will never die and that my loved ones will never die and that some sort of heaven is surely attainable on this earth if I can just keep us all clustered together, safe, and well, and having pretty birthday parties…
and in this oh-so-human understanding, I continually shut out the eternal aspects of my soul, along with my purpose for even being on this earth in the first place.
It is the worst kind of ignorance, because it is an ignorance that knows better.
But Bud and June’s story has been the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
These two were good people. Family people. Godly people. And that their life could end in a manner that so causes the sympathetic human heart to writhe in distress leaves me with only one conclusion, obliterating the lies that I have habitually told myself and making the truth so irrefutably clear that I can no longer deny it:
Any attempt I make to set up a kingdom on this passing earth, and any avenue that I pour my life into, and any purpose that I attach my hope to OTHER THAN THE PURE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST is nothing but a fool’s errand.
It will disappoint. It will shatter. It will wither.
And this heaven that I’ve been searching for, this satisfaction that evades, this safety that I crave like one parched and panting will ever and only be found when I line myself completely up in the Word of God and lose myself in a life lived for His glory.
The farce has been exhausting to uphold, and though this journey toward truth has been excruciating on my soul, I can sense that uncharted levels of joy and peace are finally on the horizon.
I believe with all of my heart that God was not missing on the day that Bud and June did not come home.
He is always working, telling stories that we, in our humanness, cannot begin to understand, and though we see through a mirror dimly, stories like Bud and June’s remind us to at least start asking questions and begging for sight.
I have been begging like never before for sight. And I am therefore convinced that if the surveyors of Bud and June’s story walk away from this sad newsweek simply striving to “be more careful” and to avoid entrapment…
or only with a fresh resolve to “cherish each moment” while our time on earth is at hand…
that we are completely missing the point.
The point is that we are dying.
Every single day, we are dying.
And the only hope for salvation is the truth that Bud and June were believing in well before their time on earth was done.
And so I want to ask you the questions today that I’ve been asking myself, questions that we should ask ourselves daily…
Where is your hope?
What are you believing in?
Are your actions and your practices matching meticulously up with your words?
It is time to stop trying to hold this present and seen life together by the flailing tips of our fingers and start asking the big questions, the ones that hurt to have answered, the ones that require hard things of us, the ones that result in a change of direction, a change of lordship.
It is time to look for truth.
I did not know Bud and June Runion on this earth, but I know their God. And as professing believers in Jesus Christ whose lives bore witness to their changed hearts, their faith has been made sight and they understand all things now. They have made it through the labor pains and have forgotten any of the sorrow or sadness that colored their life before (John 16). They realize now the things that are so difficult for us to grasp, that this life is a vapor and a shadow, that what we are experiencing now is a flicker compared to eternity, that the world to come is a million times better than the fallen world we inhabit now.
Knowing this, believing this, even though their story is heartbreakingly sad and incomprehensible, I sincerely don’t think Bud or June would want us to feel pity for them.
I don’t think they would use their last words to warn us about using Craigslist.
I don’t think they would say “live every day to its fullest because it could be your last.”
I don’t even think they would say “hug your family close tonight because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
I think they would say “repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
I am believing, with more fervency and resolve than ever before, and I am praying that my life will prove it.
To keep up with the family of Bud and June and to learn more about this amazing couple, visit their Facebook page. And if you would like to hear more about the gospel message of Jesus Christ, please click here.
Thank you for reading! With love and hope, Mrs. Gore