Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Second Chances God Gives Us

Have you ever found yourself wondering, no maybe struggling with, what on earth God is up to?  After my last post I am sure no one is surprised to hear that I spent a lot of time asking why?  Why now God?  Why this man?  Why this family?  Why, in the middle of his life, his marriage, his children's 'growing up time'...why did you have to take this man from those who loved him?
I don't have as hard a time with God's reasoning or purpose as I used to.  I don't know why that is...maybe because I understand that I am not meant to understand.  Maybe because I have seen such amazing things come from the trials we all experience.
But it still hurts, we still ache, we still grieve....and we still do question.
And this last week I questioned again...but for the exact opposite reason.
This week the fragility of life was tested once again.  This week I was faced with the reality of what could have been a life ending tragedy.  And once again I found myself asking God why...or maybe what is a better word.
My husband had a very scary accident a week ago.  He was cutting a tree and it twisted and the wind blew it back on top of him.  He was knocked to the ground, hit from behind by this tree.  He managed to get up and get himself into his truck and into town before calling an ambulance.  We spent the next 7 hours not knowing if anything in his back, neck or chest was broken.  The chest seemed to be the area that hurt and there was no symptoms of spinal cord injury.  In the end he had a bad break of a rib, right off the sternum but other then that, he was fine.  In tremendous pain, but fine.
Initially I didn't think a lot about it.  I just dealt with it and keep saying he was very lucky.  And then a day or so later I realized he wasn't lucky, he was blessed.  God chose for this not to be his time, not to be an injury that changed his life or mine forever.  And yet that statement isn't true.  God may have chosen for this not to be an injury that changed his physical life but I am wondering if He was trying to change our lives forever...in the form of a wake up call. 
I spent so much time in the days after learning about Scott's health and in the days following his death questioning why God takes some people and not others, how God comes up with the timing on  things.  As I mentioned before, I tried hard to come to terms with the fact that there aren't answers to those questions.  Just as there aren't answers to the questions on why Geoff wasn't more seriously hurt.
Except deep down I think I do know.  I think we all know deep in our hearts why God protects us from life threatening, life altering injuries... because He's not done with us yet.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

He always has a plan but unfortunately we aren't always following his ways.  Sometimes we're just a step or two behind or to the left but others we are in a whole other country.  I really believe that these times when He seems to protest us, He really is creating a wake up call.  He's trying to remind us that life is precious, that He is in control and He needs us to follow Him. 
Now some might wonder at what I've posted and how that relates to when He doesn't seem to protect us, doesn't seem to make us survive the odds so to speak.  I don't have an answer for that, no one really knows but the Lord.  But what do I believe???  Well I've come to believe that when God said that he knows the plans he has for us, plans to prosper and not harm, plans to give hope and a future He doesn't always mean in this life, doesn't always mean here on earth.  Another thing that comes to me when I read this scripture is that maybe it's not just written in the single form for the word you but rather, as many in my area seem to say, it's 'yous'... the plural form of the word you (the educator in me is cringing as I type that LOL).  He knows the plans he has for all of us and sometimes the plans He has for the you singular involves or transpires because of the actions, outcomes, circumstances of the you plural.  His plan to prosper one of us, to not harm one of us might not be what we'd think. It might be that the prospering happens in heaven because let's be honest, the only place that NOTHING can harm us is heaven.  Perhaps the plans He has to give us hope and a future can only be realized by us experiencing heartbreak, loss and grief.  

Wow..this is pretty deep and isn't even where I was going with this when I first began planning this post.  Funny how life works sometimes. I began it thinking it was all about the 'wake up calls' but the more and more I think about that passage... 'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'  the more I am thinking about those moments when we can't figure God out, when we can't understand why someone we love has to go and yet another gets to stay.  We get so caught up in that and we fail to see that WE are still HERE.  God did have a plan for us, plans that aren't meant to harm us but rather to give us hope.  It is so easy to feel like we are being harmed and hurt, that our prayers are being ignored.  But time goes on, life goes on...we move ahead, little step by little step.  In time we find a new place for us, a new normal.  We find hope and we find peace.  And some, like me, like so many that I featured in my 'Motivated Mondays' series, are inspired, are encouraged, are motivated by their loss whether is a loved one , a job, a home, a relationship etc. They find a new hope and a new peace.  They find a future and they feel richer, more complete even though, at times, their heart feels so broken.
Maybe this scripture has nothing to do with the plans God has for us but rather for the plans God has for others and how what happens to them will influence us, under His guidance, to do amazing things. Maybe it's not about the plans we think of when we imagine what prosper means, when we think about the things we feel harm us.  Maybe it's about the bumps in the road, the things we fear, the things we are sure will ruin us and how we grow from them.
I guess we never know for sure.  What we do know is that He is ultimately that one in control and no matter what happens, He will be there.  He will not harm us, He will hold us. He will help us find hope and He will give us a future full of His amazing grace, blessings and love.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Don't Cry for me Down Here

I have been pretty absent from my blog for a good month now.  I am not sure what's holding me back from writing but I know what has brought me back to it today..... heavy hearted emotions... sadness, anger, disbelieve, love, admiration... but mostly sadness.
Yesterday we said goodbye to a wonderful man who is just gone way too soon.  I've been overwhelmed for the last 8+ days with emotion for this man and his family as his life took a drastic and unexpected turn and what seemed like a recovery process turned into a 4 days of tears, prayers and goodbyes.
Scott, his wife Christine and their three kids have been our friends almost as long as we've lived here...almost 11 years.  With our oldest and their youngest being only 5 months apart we've done birthday parties, social times, sports, church, community events etc. together for years. And we are just a small part of the lives that Scott and his family have touched.  That was very obvious yesterday as hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to this man's life and to support the loved ones he leaves behind.
And what a tribute it was.  Everywhere you looked there were signs of the life this man had lead, the loves of his life.  Photos of him with this three children and his wonderful wife, of him with his nephew, niece, sister and brother-in-law. Of him with this parents in years gone by and recently too.  And photos and stories of him with his many, many friends.  And there were tears..tears of anger, tears of sadness and tears of laughter too at the stories shared.
A friend of Scott's from his college days spoke of that feeling of anger that we are all feeling right now. It is so hard not to be angry when you think about loss of someone so young.  At only 45 with a wife who turns 40 this year, a daughter who just started highschool and a son and daughter who are 11 and 12 you can't help but feel angry that they won't have this man in their life.  It's Not Fair!  Oh how often I have said that over the last week.  It's so hard not to be angry when you think of all the things you saw Scott at, all the things he was involved in that will now just have a gaping hole.
And of course that just leads to so many tears of sadness.  My heart aches for this family.  For these children, this wife, these parents and parent in laws, this sister and her family and this community of friends.
Last Sunday I went for the first long run I have done in a long time.  It seemed easy to run, the time just flew by and that's because I prayed and talked to God the entire time.  I decided today that I would share what God and I shared that day as I ran down a trail within view of the place Scott loved the most, his farm.
I begged God, I admit it. I begged him for a miracle.  I begged him to show the doctors they were wrong, that there was something they could do and Scott's life could be saved.  I begged him to show his amazing healing.  I begged him to give them more time and to bring Scott back to a level of consciousness where he would be able to tell his family all his dreams for them, where they could spend days together sharing their love, their stories, remembering past memories and creating new ones.
And then I begged for understanding.  Help God to see why this is happening, Help me to accept that this is your will.  Help me to come to terms with this.
And with that acceptance (which I don't have but knew that I had to come to terms with) I proceeded to pray over this family from where I could see their home.
I prayed for Christine. For the times that would come when she would be lying in bed and the tears would fall and for the emptiness she felt in her heart but also in her bed...when the space beside her seemed so vastly empty and her arms ached to hold her husband again and she ached to be held.  I prayed that she would feel the warmth of his arms holding her, that she would feel his presence and know he was there and always would be.  That she would know only their bodies were separated but their hearts were forever joined.  I prayed that she would always hear his voice in her head, encouraging her, loving on her, living within her.
I prayed for Katelyn.  I prayed that when she walks down the aisle on the day of her wedding and she's missing that opportunity that all girls dream of; being on Daddy's arm, that she would sense Scott, her sweet Daddy, that she would actually be able to feel the pressure of his arm on hers, that she would see her mom's tears and know that they were tears from a Daddy who missed her and was sad that he'd missed this day but also tears of joy at the love that she had in the man she was walking towards at the front of that church.
I prayed that Emma would hear the clapping sounds of her Dad's hands as she walks across that stage in June to get her grade 8 diploma and again in 4-5 years when she gets her highschool one.  That she can hear his voice telling her just how proud he is of her and all she has accomplished...and just how beautiful she looks in her grad dress.
And I prayed for Darnell. I asked God to make sure that Scott's cheers for Darnell's goals in hockey would ring out over the crowd and that Darnell would never have any doubt that his dad, his biggest fan, was there watching his game.
And then I cried some more as I am crying now and asked God to help me understand, help me accept what I can't understand.  I asked him to help me and all around us to accept that His ways aren't our ways and that when we prayed for healing for Scott we had to accept that God's version of healing might not be the version we had in mind, the version we desired with all our hearts. 
And today I know that God did heal Scott, I know that he made Scott whole again, full of life, love and energy....I just wish it didn't have to hurt so much and that tears did not seem to fall so easily. 

Yesterday at the funeral a young family friend sang this song.  And I am trying so hard to keep it in my heart....
"When I Get Where I'm Going"

When I get where I'm going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I'm gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I'll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I'm going
Don't cry for me down here

I'm gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he'll match me step for step
And I'll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I'll hug his neck

[Repeat chorus]

So much pain and so much darkness
In this world we stumble through
All these questions I can't answer
So much work to do

But when I get where I'm going
And I see my maker's face
I'll stand forever in the light 
Of his amazing grace
Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will love and have no fear
When I get where I'm going
Yeah when I get where I'm going

I love this line...
But when I get where I'm going and I see my maker's face, I'll stand forever in the light of his amazing grace.
It's something that I have to remind myself at times...that when I get there I won't just see the loved ones who've gone before me but that I will see the Lord and that I will forever be in the presence of His amazing grace, His ability to forgive all our sins, all our mistakes, all our wrongs and watch Him wipe that away just as he wipes away our tears.  There it will be tears of happiness...for we are home, we are back with Him. Our sins will be shed, our struggles forgotten.  What a place that is! 
For now we are here and we miss Scott.  But if we close our eyes we can imagine him in the light of God, forever smiling down on us.  He wants us to celebrate that smile, that love and that zest for life he had and not to cry for him...he's home now.