Keep Your Fork.
For someone who compiled and submitted 60,000 words to a publisher—as I come to grips today with the stark reality that my friend (and former youth pastor of the church I lead) Chad Patroff passed away suddenly yesterday morning—I am at a loss for words.
My heart aches.
Even though Chad was born with a heart ailment and suffered through countless surgeries, hospital visits and trips to the ER—I am still shocked, saddened, and mad that his four boys no longer have their father—and his wife, Carrie, no longer has a husband. If only I could have one more Starbucks visit to talk about all things Jesus and our beloved Dallas Cowboys.
Mr. Punch the Devil in the Throat.
The dude was passionate about a lot of things, but most noteworthy (besides Carrie and the boys): POD (band), the Dallas Cowboys, rescuing outcasts and misfits, and Jesus. Chad was more than out-of-the-box; Chad was a no-nonsense, one-of-a-kind wrecking ball for the Kingdom of God. If he thought it, he would say it. If you needed something that needed to be torn down in your life, he would burn it to the ground. Chad would do anything for anybody. Whatever it took. He was all in…and then some.
When I read about Jesus hanging out with sinners, I think about Chad doing the same thing.
Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” ~Matthew 10:9-12 (MSG)
Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.” ~Luke 14:12-14 (MSG)
Riffraff. Misfits. Outcasts. Yep, that’s who Chad was about.
Every time we met for coffee at Starbucks over the years, I always left inspired—because no matter what Chad’s present circumstances were, he was always transparent, he always stayed focused on the Word, and he always shared what God was saying to him. As I sit in the same Starbucks with tears welling up, I can’t help but listen to the song ‘Alive’ by POD.
I feel so alive for the very first time
I can’t deny you
I feel so alive
I feel so alive for the very first time
And I think I can fly
These are comforting words because they serve as a reminder that Chad is flying high in the presence of Jesus…and he is very much alive.
When I received the tragic news yesterday, I went out on a two-mile run to process and pray. One of the songs I was blaring through my ear buds included the following lyrics: This won’t be the end of me. Ahh, that’s some good truth right there. There’s going to be a grand reunion on the horizon—a reunion that reminds me of one of his tattoos.
KEEP YOUR FORK.
What does that mean? Thanks to Facebook, I’ll let Chad tell you in his own words:
The meaning is that we all have been to Gma’s house for family dinners. They tell us to keep our fork b/c desert is coming. So the twist is this…What God has done has been good but what He is getting ready to do is BETTER!! Hence “Keep Your Fork”.
Sad for us, but lucky for him, Chad is already experiencing the better. In fact, there will never be anything better than hearing the following words from Jesus in Matthew 25—the same words Chad has now heard himself in heaven: “Well done, my good and faithful servant…let’s celebrate together.”
I’m sure going to miss answering my phone and hearing Chad shout, “What’s up, Homie?!” or “ How ‘bout them Cowboys?!” but I know this is not good bye. This is see you later. And if we could hear Chad utter one last breath to Carrie, Trae, Luke, Riley, Jesse, Marilyn (his mother), the rest of his family, church family, and slew of friends like me and you—he would probably say, “Keep your fork.”