Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
The recent death of 27-year-old starting major league pitcher Tyler Skaggs in his sleep gives new meaning to this well-known nursery prayer. At 27, and in excellent health in the prime of an athletic career, you — and certainly everyone around you –expect yourself to be waking up in the morning. You don’t even think about praying that prayer, and yet, as God would have it, Tyler never woke up that Monday morning, but his soul did. From what one of his teammates said about knowing he would be seeing “Skaggsy” again someday, it appears that Tyler did know about meeting the Lord in his sleep.
Death, and especially a sudden, mysterious death such as this, is a shock from which it is not easy to recover. Brad Ausmus, manager of the Angels, noted, “To a man, it’s the same advice and that is there’s no handbook for this. You just kind of got to go with your honest feelings. If you do that, I think that you’re not going to be wrong.”
That’s why I like some of these most honest feelings of fellow ballplayers that I dug up:
“This sucks. So, so badly. It seems like yesterday we were dancing and laughing together on your wedding night. We’ll all miss you brother more than you know. I hate that I’m even tweeting this. RIP Skaggsy.” – Former teammate, C.J. Cron.
“We lost Skaggs today. He’s part of the brotherhood. Life is precious. Life is sacred. It’s really unfortunate, man. Baseball’s not the most important thing in the world. I hope, as ballplayers and as fans, we can see that and have it be a little sobering effect where you maybe smile a little more, hug your family.” – Trevor Williams, Pirates starting pitcher.
And this is my favorite. This is what everyone is feeling, but most are afraid to say: “This is a nightmare. Absolute nightmare. Can’t believe it. Don’t want to believe it.” – Teammate, Jared Walsh.
We don’t want to believe death exists, but we have no choice. Death is not optional.
That’s why death is the single most important event to lead us to life. Death always forces the issue of faith, and as such, it has saved many a life. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus is the only true comfort to be found in the face of death.
“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” We’ve got Tyler’s body. It’s a real drag. Nobody likes this part. We have to do something with it. But God has his soul.
In the wake of his death there have been numerous comments about him looking on from heaven, or about being able to see him again someday. These are statements of faith in Jesus. Is this wishful thinking by which we comfort ourselves, or is this true? Only you can answer that question.