Month: September 2017

I have a question…

I have a question. A personal and somewhat confrontational question that might tempt you to roll your eyes and stop reading right now. While I can’t keep you from doing just that, I still have to ask,

Who is Jesus to you?

If I were to sit down with you, here on my couch, with coffee in hand (always) and ask you about your view of God and His Son, I wonder what you would tell me. Maybe you would be offended by the question itself, but if you could be totally gut-honest, what would be your answer?

Maybe Jesus, to you, is just a good, moral example to read about in a history book. Maybe He is someone whom you seem to only pray to in times of crisis, or maybe He is your closest friend. Maybe you bring Him your sorrows and greatest joys, instead of only the unfair moments in life. Is God someone or something that is a nice thought, but seems to be more of a made-up fairy tale? Perhaps He is a bit more harsh, like a ‘cosmic cop’ who is waiting to punish you if you make a mistake. Is He a taker–someone who has taken away from you that which you cared for deeply? Is He more like Santa Clause, someone you bring your wish list to at certain times and wonder if you’ve been good enough to receive what you’ve asked for? Maybe you struggle to even believe He exists, and if so, does He really have time to care about you?

If there is anything these last two months have given me, it is the gift of sight. Collier’s life and death, though painful, have given me some of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from the Lord. Particularly, His nearness and the ability to see Him, in part, for who He really is. While I miss my baby boy and am still wrestling through the uncomfortable process of grief, I find thankfulness growing in my heart daily that Jesus is continually opening my eyes to all that He is. He continues to prove every day that He is…

My Shepherd. Do you ever wonder why Psalm 23 has become the most commonly read Scripture at funerals? It’s because in times of despair, we who are left to grieve need to be reminded that there is One who is walking through the valley with us. And He doesn’t walk with us as One who doesn’t understand. He’s been there. God knows what it’s like to watch His only Son die a cruel and undeserved death. Jesus knows what it’s like to actually experience death itself, and He promises that when it’s sting touches our lives He will be with us in the midst. He doesn’t abandon us. He is there, walking beside us and removing any fear or doubt that tries to creep into our hearts. In the middle of the valley of the shadow, He gives us all we need–faith, peace, comfort, joy, and the assurance of His presence. These are not things that can be manufactured. They are gifts that we receive from Him at the moment we need them. Every single thing we need in the middle of heartache, our Shepherd gives us freely because He cares.

My Comforter. I’ve spent a lot more time reading my Bible lately. That’s because nothing else comforts like the Word of God. I’ve been more drawn to the few moments throughout the Bible where we get glimpses of mothers grieving for sons. Hannah grieved over conceiving Samuel. Mary watched as Jesus was crucified and it pierced her soul (Luke 2:35). And then there are a few verses about the widow of Nain. On His way into the city, Jesus notices this grieving mother in a funeral procession for her only son. Does He walk on by? No. He draws near to her. His response to her is one of my favorite moments in Scripture. “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, Don’t cry (Luke 7:13).” His heart went out to her. He saw her pain, and it broke His heart. And He comforted her with His presence and two simple words spoken with great compassion, “don’t cry.”  Who is Jesus in the middle of grief? He is a compassionate comforter. He has been this Comforter for me and He can be for you too.

My Savior. If you were to tell me who Jesus is to you, how I wish that you would say He is your Savior. And if you can’t say that now, I pray you will. Did you know that death and separation from God were never supposed to be a part of your life? God knew how much those things would hurt us, here and beyond the grave. He doesn’t want that for you or me. That’s why He made a way of escape. He used the very thing that hurts us most to bring you salvation and victory. He conquered death by death. He allowed His sinless Son to take on the punishment you deserve so that you won’t have to be hurt by all that sin and death brought into this world anymore. This is His gift to you. He won’t make you reach out and take this gift, but He wants you to and so do I.

See the picture above? I dreaded the day Collier’s headstone came in for weeks. Mostly because there is nothing right about seeing your child’s name engraved on a symbol of death. However, seeing it didn’t bother me nearly as much as I had anticipated. Why? Because I know that death does not have the final say over my life or my son’s. My Savior alone speaks the final word, and His words are life. Yes, I grieve but not without hope.

So who is Jesus to you? I hope that God will give you the gift of sight, too. He wants you to see Him as Shepherd, Comforter, Savior and so much more.

And if not, He is still good

If there is one thing God has given my five year old son, it is a sincere love of music. As an infant, I could put him in the baby swing, press the music button, and he would be perfectly content. Fast forward a few months, and Baby Einstein classical music was the key to an almost instantly happy baby. Since age two, I have listened to him sing and “play guitar” at the top of his lungs almost every single day. His music of choice? Worship music. On any given day, I can find him in his room strumming away and belting out lyrics to the many songs he’s learned from home, the radio, or church. It’s pure, heartfelt praise. The passion he has for music and worship at such a tender, young age makes me a proud mama. But there have been moments I think God has used it to teach me something.

One of those moments happened during the days leading up to Collier’s delivery. That week, on top of overwhelming sadness from his loss, there were so many difficult decisions we were forced to make. Discussing the specifics of his delivery, burial and memorial service were nothing more than brutal reminders of how life had changed so quickly. Add in a roller coaster of hormones and emotions (a roller coaster that I’m still riding), and I was a mess. I remember thinking so many times how unfair it felt to be planning a funeral for my baby, while others I knew were having fun celebrating their pregnancies with baby showers and maternity pictures. Why, I thought, did God choose to take away our child, but allow everyone else to keep theirs?  It seemed as though everywhere I looked, there were more painful reminders that Collier was really gone, and unless God performed a miracle, the circumstance would not change.

That Wednesday afternoon I had just gotten off the phone with my doctor, finalizing details of the delivery, and I was feeling overcome with grief. I tried to pray, but the only prayers I managed to muster were crying out to God “please help us” or “Your will be done.” I’ve learned that asking God’s will to be done in the midst of heartache can be so very,veryhard to pray. What if God’s will is different than what I want to happen? What if He chooses to allow us to walk the road that is more painful? What if He hears my prayer for a miracle, but His answer is still no?And if He chooses to say no, does that mean He is still good? Why would a good God allow something so hurtful to happen to those who have tried to serve Him faithfully our whole lives? It’s not that I believed we were more or less deserving of anyone else. But I have been taught of God’s goodness my whole life, and how He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11). Nothing about this felt good.

Somewhere around this time of praying and questioning, I heard noise coming from our living room. It was the familiar sound of my little boy belting out again with his guitar. Here’s the song he had chosen to sing that day:

You’re a good, good Father

It’s who You are, It’s who You are, It’s who You are

And I’m loved by You

It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am

You are perfect in all of your ways

Perfect in all of your ways

You are perfect in all of your ways to us

My precious boy will never know how grateful I am for him singing that song. At that moment, in his little mind, all he was doing was singing something he heard at church. But God knew what I needed and used the faith of a child to remind me of His character. Looking back, I truly believe that day was when I began to let go and trust Him. I began trusting that He would carry us through whatever was ahead. I began trusting that He had the power to perform a miracle if He wanted. And if not, He was still good.

Because, He is.

He is good because He sent His only Son to pay the penalty for my sin–a costly gift that I did nothing to earn, nor did I deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9).

He is good because He has given me a wonderful, faithful, loving husband. One who over the past 9 years has been my very best friend, my source of laughter, and the one who has held my hand through everything life has thrown our way.

He is good because he has allowed me to carry three children—a privilege many never get to experience at all, and one that I treasure.

He is good because he gave us Collier, even if for just a little while. I heard his heartbeat. I felt him move, and I got the joy of carrying him his whole life. 

He is good because He never changes. He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

He is good because He doesn’t make mistakes. His ways are perfect, even if I can’t see it (Isaiah 55:8-9).

He is good because nothing catches Him by surprise. He is all-knowing. He sees the beginning and the end all at once, and every detail in between (Psalms 139; Isaiah 46:9-10; Luke 12:7). 

He is good because He hears my prayers and He answers them, even when the answers are not the ones I wanted. His answers are always best (Matthew 7:9-11).

He is good because His Word says He is, and I choose to believe truth (John 17:17). The truth that He is working all things together for my good (Romans 8:28-39). 

We chose for the song “Good, Good Father” to be sung at Collier’s memorial service. I can’t help but think how perfectly fitting it was. It soothes the ache in my heart to be reminded over and over that His ways are perfect. God knew exactly how long Collier would live, and his brief life had purpose. It mattered. It will always matter.

I’m not sure if you have ever doubted the goodness of God like me. Maybe you look around at all the evil in the world and wonder where is God? Maybe life has crumbled right before your eyes and you don’t see an ounce of goodness anywhere. Maybe you’ve prayed for a miracle that never came. I don’t know what your circumstances feel like, but I do know how badly it hurts to lose someone I cared for deeply.  I want to tell you from experience, He is still good. He truly is a good, good Father.

Jesus, God’s only son, experienced intense grief to the point of sweating drops of blood. He asked, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will (Matt. 26:39).” God heard that prayer. He could have chosen a different way, but He didn’t.  He chose to allow suffering because it ultimately led to good. Our good. As our Father, He works all things together for His glory and our bestinterest. All because of His great love for us. He hears our prayers. He sees our tears. He understands our problems. He knows our pain. And we can trust Him with it all—because He is faithful and He is still good.