The past seven days! Im about to bury my friend and what I have learned in those days!
The past seven days have been brutal. It started for Michelle and I last Saturday as my brother Clint was not recovering well from a surgery I had 10 years earlier. As Michelle and I had the joy of committing to marriage two great friends and disciples, our minds were on Kettering Hospital and Clint's life and family. I didn't feel well last weekend while I fought a cold, a little fatigue and carried a little worry how Clint's surgery had turned from routine to life-threatening. I went to bed sick and woke up the same.
Sunday morning was much like Saturday night. My head was a little foggy and I knew that Clint wasn't doing well. As we prayed for him during the first service at church, I rested in the Lord, as I knew He is able to overcome any problems Clint was having in that room. I trusted that the Lord was holding his wife Michelle, together. Soon, early in the second service, it became clear that Clint was in trouble. Pastor Tom and I stopped the service to get on our faces and beg for healing. I had no words but to beg the Lord for His touch and His power to show off. I felt helpless as I prayed but knew I needed to submit my heart to the Lord. I did not know how long the next 72 hours would become.
As my wife Michelle and I rushed our kids home during second service and then headed to Kettering Hospital, I kept feeling as if I would walk in the room and find Clint sitting upright. I did not. Scott and Lea McQuinn were there with Michelle and the kids as they prayed over Clint and his room. Michelle Otto had spent the weekend being near her husband. The prognosis wasn't good, but as Hans Otto (Clint's brother) interacted with the doctors, the hours there became positive for some of us. My hope was that every steady and stable hour for Clint would be an hour closer to his healing. Michelle (my wife) and I left in the late afternoon, leaving the hospital with hope that the next day would bring good news for Michelle, Clint's wife. It did not.
As I headed to the Resource Center the next morning, I had decided that I would leave early and spend some time with Clint's family, as they waited outside his room. Michelle's (Clint's wife) text to me still gave me hope though I could sense that she might not share in the hope I held. Her words were simple, "no big change but he is slightly worse". Again, I held to the hope that every hour of stable would be an hour closer to healing. I was right about that, but not in the way I defined his healing. Soon after working for an hour, I received a call from our pastor, Tom Pendergrass. Clint was not doing well. I went home to get my wife, Michelle, and we decided to spend the day there with Clint's wife Michelle. On the way home, the calls from pastor Tom began to roll in. The first informed me that his heart had stopped, the second was that they restarted it. The third was their plan to get Clint to another hospital where there was hope in helping his heart heal. As Michelle (my wife) and I pulled in to Kettering Hospital, UC Hospital's trauma unit flew past us. My hope was that they could help my friend find his healing. We followed the trauma team from UC up the elevators.
The next hour would be Clint's last on earth with us. I watched as he breathed his last here and began breathing his first with the Lord Jesus Christ. I can still hear the crying and breathing in that room from everyone but him. I watched over Clint's family and held some of them as they mourned over their loss. In a single sweeping moment, life was not the same ... for any of us. I would love to share more about what happened in that room, but those details are going to be held until they are ready to speak of them. Just know this my friends, I saw the Lord live his life through Michelle Otto and her kids. What I witnessed was only the Lord's strength and His grace toward us.
In the days after that fateful Monday, I have learned more about my friend Clint than I had gained in 11 years. It's amazing to hear someone else's perspective on someone you thought you might have a grasp on. I have had the honor of sitting with his brothers and hearing the Clint I never met, the one before he met Jesus. I have listened in on Michelle and the kids as they share story after story about their father and husband. I have sat with the people Clint discipled and have learned even more. I am amazed at the man I call my friend. Clint is truly an amazing man who was transformed by Christ's amazing grace. What I had heard in the last few days has rocked me and unsettled my core. My soul has been challenged by what I have experienced the last few days. If you will allow, I would like to expound a little more on some of those in this writing.
First, I have told Michelle Otto time and time again how angry I have been toward Clint and his busyness. When Clint was diagnosed with the same disease I once carried, I challenged him often that he was not resting enough. I have to admit I believed I knew he was over doing it and possibly ignoring his family. I was wrong on one of those. Clint made sure he spent time with his family. The Otto men have a motto "We work hard so we can be with our family (Hans Otto)" and Clint lived this. He worked hard and has provided for his family. Not only has he provided, but he made them a priority. Do you know how hard that is to accomplish in ministry? Rarely do people ask your permission to disrupt your rhythms or your time off, as they have needs that need ministering to. His priorities were in the right place: Jesus, his family, his ministry and his work. This is one area where I am exposed and am dealing with conviction. God is not calling me to be Clint to my family, but to be Shawn Peoples to my family. Clint's death has convicted my life. My friend has exposed my carelessness toward my wife and children ... I thank Clint for that!
Second, I have come to love his brothers. In only spending the last week with Hans and some time with Gus, Nik, and Joe; my heart has grown in admiring them and wishing I grew up with them. They are loving men that have accomplished much in their life. They work hard and love well, something that Clint did! I pray that those men will allow me to be part of their lives from time to time.
Third, I will miss being loved by Clint. If you could hear what I have heard the last days, one thing is apparent, Clint loved people well ... I was one of those people. It was just August that Clint and I sat in his car as he cried, begging God to keep my family here. I knew that he was my friend, but that day he loved me well as he cried out. I woke up Tuesday morning around 4am thinking about Clint and his care for my soul. I thought of the many times I vented at him and about ministry. How he was there through some of the hardest years of leading people to love Jesus. He and Michelle were often at our home as we talked about life and ministry; he never once put more weight on me, but often cared for me while I carried that weight. I cried Tuesday morning as I realized I will never experience his love again, however, the Lord reminded me that it wasn't Clint loving me, but my Father in heaven loving me through Clint. Clint has been a clear conduit of God's love to me for 11 years. I am thankful that Clint allowed the Lord to love me through him.
Tomorrow, I will reside over his funeral. Those words still don't make much sense, but the Lord is doing something within me that I long for. He is holding me close and loving through me well. I am honored that Jesus would pick me to walk along side Michelle and the kids as they say their temporary goodbyes to Clint. One day, these days will make sense. Right now, they don't, but I am honored that the Lord would use me in these days.
We sometimes find that we think we might have a grasp on someone's life, only to find events reveal that we really don't. My friend Clint is the most unassuming man, but I have enjoyed his brilliant mind that were hidden behind those kind eyes. It has taken his death to make me miss his life. It has taken me walking with his family during these dark days, to learn about the man I called friend and brother. His passion for the Gospel and His love for Jesus have absolutely overwhelmed me. He told Michelle (his wife) he would gladly give his life if that meant one person would give their's to Jesus. He lived John 15:13; "No greater love is this, that a man would give his life for his friends".
Although I miss him, I am thankful that I knew him and was loved by him. This world won't be the same without his laugh, his work, his drive, his sayings and his presence. However, this world has been pointed to the One who can hold our broken hearts because he received the love of Jesus and gave it away freely. There won't be another Clint Otto and I don't think God wants another Clint Otto. What God wants from us is an intimate relationship with Him and then to live like Clint did, who lived out what Jesus lived out in John 14:10. Clint lived as Jesus did when Jesus said, "the works I do I do not do them on my own accord but it is the Father doing them through me". That's what this world needs; more people being intimate with Christ and then allowing the life of Christ to be lived through them.
Thanks Clint for being that to me!