It’s nearly been one year without you. One year of looking for you, expecting to see you, and having to face the reality of not being able to see you again this side of heaven. I often think about one of our last conversations. We had just finished up our family meeting. Everyone discussed very calmly your funeral plans. Except for me, I bawled like a baby. I kept thinking, no, you guys, you don’t understand, God is gonna give us a miracle. He is gonna show up in ways that will blow your mind. He will bring complete and total healing, and you all will stand in AWE of just how great God is.
Please God, I thought to myself, PLEASE, just heal dad.
You got tired and had a hard time sitting at the table so you went and sat in your big recliner (and half-heartedly told Charlee to go away, but I saw you reach over and pet her head). I walked in, everyone else was still talking. Remember what you said? You said, “Are you ready for this? I believe you are. You will make a great pastor’s wife. I have no regrets. I’m proud of who all of my children chose to marry.” Me, “Dad, I’m still holding out for a miracle. We need you.” Dad, “You need to let me go.” Me, “I’m not quite ready to do that. I can’t do that.” And then we both cried as you told me, “I wanna go home.” Mom came in and held your hand. Seth came in and held mine. Remember our last conversation? Me, “Dad, everything will be ok, I promise.” You, “I know.” Me, “I love you.” You, “I love you too.”
And then you were gone. And it felt like everything, our whole world, was falling apart.
But really, God was just rearranging everything to bring forth the most unexpected and beautiful miracle. You got to go home, and God led us to Hill Crest Bible Church where He has brought healing, comfort, hope, and love. Whenever I enter those doors, I do in fact, stand in awe of just how great our God is. It’s been nearly six months and I’ve yet to sit through a service where I don’t cry because I am overwhelmed by the presence of our Comforter.
I can’t really say that God showed up, because He never left us. You see, He is a faithful God. He is a good God. And even when life is hard, I don’t have to worry that I’m alone, because we’ve walked through that valley, we’ve experienced the shadow of death – but we were not eclipsed by it.
My heart still hurts. I still miss you like crazy. People say that time heals all wounds, and I don’t believe it. I don’t think this is a hurt that will ever quite heal, at least until we meet again. But we are running our race dad, we aren’t giving up, we are pressing forward, burning those ships that anchor us to our comfort zones and trusting that when we step out on the water, Jesus is right there with us. Just like you taught us.
We can whole-heartedly agree with you that God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.
The girl you picked to marry your son (a story for another day).
Read: 2 Kings 18, 21, & 22
Consider: Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Have you ever heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”? Whenever I think about our free will, I always think of a powerful and beautiful, yet sometimes stubborn to its own detriment, horse.
In life we are faced with many choices, and we have the freedom to choose which path we will take, some choices are easy: chocolate or vanilla (obviously, it’s chocolate!) and yes or no to dessert (Yes!). Some choices are not so easy: to make the cross-country move or not (depends, can I bring my mom?), or how about knowing when it’s time to fight or when it’s time to quit? So many choices, it can feel overwhelming, but we do not have to make those decisions alone! We have a Creator who is deeply invested in each of us and who has created us to fulfill a specific purpose! Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” The choice is up to you though, do you rely on that life-line or do you try to do it all on your own?
Experience, even those difficult and painful ones, brings lasting lessons of growth and change. I believe Josiah had wise counsel, but I also believe that he had a relationship with his Creator and understood the heavy burden of leading a people. 1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness.” I think at the age of 8, Josiah knew that there were people who were wiser than he was, so he sought counsel from the wisest person he knew (2 Kings 22:1-2). Josiah didn’t just inherit his faith from his mother, he made it his own. He grew his faith so that it had deep roots. Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Josiah had the freedom to choose whether he would do right or wrong in the eyes of God, and he chose to do that which was right. We also have the choice to do right or wrong in the eyes of our God, let’s choose wisely. No matter what man says, if God calls you to do something, do it. Looking back from the other side, you will be so thankful that you trusted Jesus.
To-Do: What hard thing has God asked you to do? What are you actively doing to grow your faith to deepen those roots, so that when the storms of life come you are not swept away? What have you learned looking back from the other side?