Michael Elliott Bamford
February 18, 1993 – December 11, 2010
By Luke Ledebur – In Mike’s Memory
When I thought about what I wanted to say today about Mike it was hard to know where to start. The Bible promises that when we hurt we can rely on the unforced rhythms of God’s grace. This means something to me because what was so cool about my friendship with Mike was that it had a rhythm to it.
Mike and I became friends when I moved into the house across the street from him. We live on a quiet little street where the houses are close together so you always have a sense of what’s going on with your neighbors. Mike and I quickly figured each other out. In the mornings many days we rode to school together and would also go to lunch together. Afterschool when homework was done we knew we could start playing video games. Mike would come over and we’d play whatever newest game we had. We’d play for a while and then an epic Nerf battle would usually follow because my little brother Chase would beg us to play with him. Then we would go outside and shoot hoops in his driveway or go for a bike ride. In the summers we’d go to the pool or hit golf balls at the country club. After dinner street tennis would begin.
What everyone knows about Mike is that he was a great golfer. He could kick my butt out on the golf course. What people might not know about Mike though is that he had visions of becoming a good tennis player which is where street tennis started. Mike was convinced that with hard work he could someday beat me which I didn’t think was going to happen but I wanted to let him try since he did the same for me with golf. We would play for hours with an imaginary court on our street. Back and forth – back and forth all the time laughing our heads off because even though he was pretty decent Mike hit a lot of balls all over our neighborhood. What I loved about street tennis was you saw the best of Mike – his laugh, his smile, his fierce determination and his sportsmanship.
Mike was truly the best friend I’ve ever had because our friendship just had this natural rhythm to it. We liked all the same things. Back and forth we would go to each other’s houses – sometimes even spending the night, back and forth to the country club for the pool and golf, back and forth with the tennis ball until the sun went down.
In life not everyone is lucky enough to become friends with their neighbor. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend become a neighbor. I’m very blessed because I’ve had the first, and one day I will get the second when I meet up with Mike again as his neighbor on the other side of eternity.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11 (The Message)