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June #11

I cannot say what lead me to dig so deep in memories after our home grew quiet. Before I knew it, I was sitting at the foot of my bed, knee deep in old, handwritten cards and the contents of the trunk that holds every earthly possession belonging or related to my sweet girl were strewn all around me. I am not sure when I last opened that lid, but it has been quite some time. 

The places that used to trip me up did not. The images that used to sting were sweet. Only the long-lingering sweet scent of clothes and tiny blankets that have been sealed so tightly all these years brought tears to my eyes as quickly as they always have.

Tangible evidence that she really lived: it rocks me every time.

I stared a little longer at the images of her beautiful face free from tubes and tape than I've ever been able to and my mama heart swelled instead of ached this time. 

"Eleven years, sweet girl, and I'm more proud of you than I've ever been."

I opened an old folder and read the words I spoke aloud from the pulpit at her funeral and winced at my twenty-four year old naivete, while also admittedly cheering that bold, brokenhearted girl on at the very same time. Bless my heart, I tried. Knees knocking, heart pounding, I tried my best to point my trembling finger toward heaven and away from that casket for all the world to see, and you know, there's just something to be said for that. Even if I say it myself, eleven years later, simply because I know what a miracle it was that I was able to stand at all that day.

This long journey of grief has had a beautiful way of knocking some of my (many) edges off, of smoothing the sharp corners of my stubbornness, causing me to be sad more often than I am angered by injustices, spurring me toward action instead of indifference, teaching me to lock my jaw and walk forward when I want to shrink back, straightening my spine and strengthening my heart, lifting my eyes toward heaven, and choosing again and again and again to try my best to be better instead of bitter at the end of this life. I would never have chosen this path, but I wouldn't change it now if I could. He has been so good.

I feel less qualified to live this life and tell this tale than I did all those years ago, but it is because my God looks even bigger today than He did back then. 

He has made His greatness known to me in countless ways over the years, not the least of which I caught a glimpse of in all those letters strewn across my dark bedroom floor tonight: His body is beautiful. I pulled card after card out of envelope after envelope and saw now what I was too broken and confused to see back then. The body of Christ in action is an unparalleled beauty. The names written on those cards represented believers who came not with answers, but with love. 

And it was love that set us free from those chains.

I believe in a blessing I don't understand. I've seen rain fall on the wicked and the just. Rain is no measure of His faithfulness. He withholds no good thing from us. - Sara Groves

The building we worship in each week has changed. The small groups that signed cards together for us have long since scattered. The ministers who did their best to love us well are serving in other places. Many of the names signed in the guestbook - which I had never opened until today - are the names of folks gone home to the Lord. 

A whole, whole lot can happen in eleven years, but the good Lord is just as faithful today as He was then and the same can be said of His body.

Brothers and sisters, let us not draw lines in the sand around our church buildings. It matters not where we congregate. When every knee bows, our rules are going to look mighty small. When King Jesus comes and makes all things new, it's not going to matter which side of the fence you or I stood on, so long as we bowed before Him and loved like He loved.

When folks are broken and so angry life has turned out the way it has that they cannot see straight, let us wrap our arms around them and love them. When the diagnosis comes that offers no hope from the world's eye and ushers loved ones home so much sooner than we wanted them to go, let us hold tightly to the promises of His Word and say, even with chins quivering, that God is good, no matter what. Let's sing those words back to the broken parts of the body until they remember the words and find a way to sing along again. 

When life's arrows find their way to our own hearts, may we boldly stand and point to Jesus even if we don't have half the answers and our knees are knocking. Let us do the thing, believing with bleeding hearts that He really will be our all in all and never waste a single seed planted, even and especially as we sow them in tears. We may not see the fruit for years to come, but oh how faithful He will be to bless the effort.

Eleven years closer to home, to coming face to face with Christ, and to her. Eleven fewer years to do what is mine to do before I go home, too. Eleven years of tangible evidence of a living God who never, ever wastes a hurt and really does work all things together for our good and His glory. May I never keep it to myself.

"Eleven years, Father God, and I'm more proud of you than I've ever been."


"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and high and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Ephesians 3:14-20

Comments

  1. This is beautiful. The body of Christ became real to me in college when my sister fought with and ultimately was taken by leukemia. It didn’t matter what congregation they were from—they loved Jesus and through His love, loved me and my family. For that, I will always be grateful.

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