Epic Legacy

Micah Benjamin Kaplan
Feb. 3, 1985 to Dec. 12, 2010

A teacher holds up a single red apple in front of his classroom of students and asks, “How many apples do I hold here?”

“One,” they reply in unison.

“Right,” returned the teacher, “and, at the same time, it is wrong.” He could see the puzzled looks on their faces, so he continued.

“If we look on the outward appearance, yes, there is only one apple. But if we look on the inside, within this one apple, there resides thousands, if not millions, of apples. For inside this apple, if we were to slice it open, lies just a few seeds that, if planted in good soil and nurtured, could produce trees that would produce many more apples, each of which could, in turn, produce many more trees and many more apples. And if we continued this for several generations, we would discover that this one apple is indeed innumerable apples.”

We’ll come back to this in a minute.

Thank you all for coming today. Micah meant so much to so many people, and if you knew his heart you all meant the world to him.

Micah was my cousin – but he was never considered just a cousin. Micah was my brother, he was my confidant, he was my friend.

Micah Benjamin Kaplan burst into this world February 3, 1985.

Most people change so much as they grow up and most features and characteristics they had as children aren’t apparent in them as adults. Micah had one thing that lasted through the years: all through his life Micah has had the biggest smile I have ever seen.

And he could light up a room with that smile. It was certainly contagious.

At a very young age, God decided it was time for Micah’s natural mother, Nelda Jean Kaplan, to come home. This was a very difficult time for Micah, his brother Joel and their father Dan. Now Dan, although devastated, remained faithful to God, like Job, and God was faithful to the family and brought them my Aunt Nancy.

Nancy didn’t have any kids of her own, but she fell in love with Dan’s boys. Over the years, Micah and Nancy’s connection grew deeper to the point where he was her baby and she was his mother.

I have to admit it took a little more time for me. I actually thought Micah was slightly annoying at first. It is an understatement to say that Micah was intense. He was a lot to handle, but that’s because he never held back all of who he was. It is a quality I grew to admire in him.

Micah was a tremendous athlete who loved all sports. Growing up he played baseball, basketball, soccer and competed in cross country. He excelled at everything he did, but his love settled on soccer and cross country.

Micah gained many achievements in cross-country but in soccer, his successes went even further.

Micah was phenomenal at soccer. Many of you had the opportunity to watch him play, either from the stands or on the field with him. His intensity drove him and his talent propelled him. His high school years were capped off earning All-American honors as a senior after scoring 25 goals and helping his team win the state title in 2003. He also was named the Wells Fargo Regional Player of the Year that season.

Micah dealt with his share and more of injuries and surgeries throughout his playing days. But things that would sideline someone permanently or discourage them from coming back, couldn’t keep Micah away from the game he loved. Micah never saw an injury as final. Every time he was knocked down, he worked his way back onto the field and continued to play.

He went on to play soccer for Grand Canyon University. While attending GCU, Micah took a job at Sunrise Preschool. Micah’s love of kids and playing made this a perfect place for him to be. It is also where he met the love of his life, Susanna.

I remember sitting in Top Shelf and Micah telling my brothers and me about this amazing woman at his work. He was taken, head over heels.

The two had their challenges. Susie battled cancer and Micah stood by her side and loved her through it. Their love was beautiful. At their wedding May 24, 2008 I don’t think anyone could keep a dry eye during Susie’s vows to Micah saying she knew he was special because he loved her when she didn’t have any hair.

My wife and I photographed their wedding, while I was also a groomsman. We have photographed many weddings and we’ve been around enough couples that we can recognize a love so deep you can’t see the bottom of it. That was the love they had for each other.

After he graduated in 2007, Micah took teaching jobs as a PE teacher at Desert Sage Elementary School and Highland Lakes School as well as coaching jobs for volleyball and soccer at Sandra Day O’Connor High School. He used to post jokes the kids would tell him on his Facebook page. I still tell one about how to wake up Lady Gaga – you Poker Face. (don’t worry if you don’t get it. It’s probably better.)

He loved those kids. And they loved him. It’s been touching to see the groups the kids have formed on Facebook and the comments they are leaving him. Including the first grader who posted last night saying he wished he was playing soccerball with Mr. Kaplan.

At Desert Sage Elementary, Micah was known as the Friday Funny Guy, because of the jokes he told during the school’s Friday video announcements. When the schools would have assemblies and talk about character, Micah dressed up in super hero garb as Captain Respect or Captain Spirit.

Character was important to Micah. His character was solid. I believe he was one of the greatest examples of Christ working through us on the earth. He allowed his life to be hidden with Christ in God and let God’s love show through.

Micah loved everyone he met with God’s unconditional love. And he had no problem sharing the love of his God to anyone at any point in time. On the basketball court, at the dog park with Buddy, anytime was the right time to talk to someone about Jesus. He would drop whatever he was doing to pray for someone on the spot – even a complete stranger.

After telling and sharing about God, he invited everyone to come to Agape, a home fellowship he and Susie started to share God’s love and grow deeper in the ways of the Lord.

John 13:35 says “Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.”

Micah had that Agape kind of love for us. Whether you knew it or not Micah loved you so much he would have laid down his life for you. And ihe did every day by putting the needs and interests of those he loved ahead of his own.

Like the story of the apples. Micah took his apple seeds and carefully planted one in each one of us. He didn’t carelessly scatter the seeds and move on away from them. He was an attentive sower who tended to his seeds and nurtured them however he could to make sure they grew strong.

In his death we take away the plant he sowed in each of us and let it blossom and bear fruit. In the same manner we need to plant the seeds that were given to us by Micah. In this way Micah will never be gone from this earth. He will continue to have an impact on an innumerable amount of people until the end of time.

I’d like to close with a passage from a daily devotional written by Micah’s grandfather called No Better Place Than in the Center of His Presence. This passage is the daily devotional from December 12, the day Micah went home.

Dec. 12
He has ordained peace for his children
Isaiah 26 3-4, 12
Beloved I have ordained peace for my children. This peace is for all time. Have I not said that I would keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on me? The one whose attitude and desire is for me. The one who commits everything and all things unto me.

Yes child, there is peace available even in the midst of the storm. There is a peace available even in the center of adversity. For trust in me, and commitment of all things to me, brings peace like a river. Beloved it is simple, just trust me no matter the situation; believe that I have everything under control. Know that I orchestrate all things together for good and though the storms may rage and waves roll and though things appear to be disastrous and it looks like there is no hope, remember that trust in me brings peace.

Oh child, I give you peace I am the prince of peace, I am your peace. Nothing or no one can give you the peace I give, for it passes all understanding. So look at all things through my eyes, trust me, fix your mind, your attitude on my ways and let my peace settle you, calm you and bring you hope.

Oh rejoice dear one for I give you peace. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

-Joe Pangburn

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