Sunday, July 25, 2010

And yet, our hearts are broken. Still.

It was Father's Day 2009 and we'd just returned from the beach. I'd gone with my dear friends Rick and Patricia and we stayed at a beach cottage owned by Rick's brother and sister-in-law (and my old friends, Chris and Jacquie). We came home prepared to celebrate Father's Day with a family gathering just on the outskirts of Annapolis.

It was a wonderful day...Chris and Jacquie came with their oldest, Zach. Daughter Olivia hadn't felt well so she stayed home. But, I had opportunity to sit and talk at length with both Chris and Jacquie. So many sweet memories...I'd known Jacquie prior to their wedding and got to know Chris shortly before. Since that time, they had two gorgeous kids, Zach and Olivia, who were both growing and entering their teen years. I'd enjoyed letters and Christmas photos every year.

The day the moving truck came to pack up Amanda & my home in Maryland for the move back to California, (18 years ago) Chris and Jacquie were the ones who showed up with breakfast from McDonald's which we sat in our empty living room and ate together. We talked then about what God was doing in our lives. Their first adoption had just fallen through and they were broken hearted, but they still showed up to wish us well. I told them I believed that God would send them another baby who would be perfect for them, in God's time, and that I knew He would heal their aching hearts and fill their empty arms.

They sent birth announcements when they were blessed with Zach and later with Olivia. Life was good. They built a beautiful home on the water outside of Annapolis. Chris was a well known entrepreneur and had a very successful career. They were active in their church, serving God and reflecting light in their community. God had blessed them.

When we sat down on Father's Day we caught up again...we sat on Rick and Pat's porch and cracked open Maryland Crabs, drank cold beer and reminisced about times gone by. Chris talked to me about a marketing position he was trying to fill and a triathalon he was training for. He was fit, and strong and handsome. He and Jaquie were the picture of God's blessing poured out. Zach came out and visited with me while I cooked peaches on the barbeque for dessert. I shared with him how we all had prayed for his arrival and how excited we all had been when he arrived.

It was a lovely day. And, it was the last time I would ever see Chris, this side of heaven.

On July 24, I had walked to the bank with my granddaughter Ruby in her stroller. My phone rang just after we'd begun to walk home. I recognized Patricia's number and eagerly answered the ring. She'd gone to the beach with Chris and Jacquie and the kids. That morning, Chris, Jacquie and Pat had walked down to the water, the kids still sleeping. They parted ways when Chris went surfing, and the gals went to get some exercise.

There was an accident. Chris was surfing and then, he wasn't. He was pulled of the water and then airlifted to Baltimore. An aneurysm was suspected. Pat was left with the children, to wait and pray.
I dropped to the curb, overcome with fear and grief. How could this be? I got on the phone and called people I knew would pray and put him on the prayer list. I began the walk home, completely overwhelmed, tears streaming down my face. And if ever in life I prayed without ceasing, it was the next 24 hours.

The next morning, Chris took his final breath on earth and his first in his heavenly home. The sorrow was wretched, intense and unfathomable. My heart was as heavy as it's ever been. I kept thinking- these are children who really need their dad...they are at a critical point in their lives...Jacquie is a woman who really needs a husband, she'd endured enough hurts growing up and needed the security of her family intact.

I could not understand. Only a month earlier I'd stayed in their little beach cottage, ate crabs and shared memories with them. He was in the shape of his life, happy, enthusiastic and hopeful about the future, grateful for his blessings. Life was good. He had everything to live for.

I wrote in my journal, "Lord! He loved and served you. How is your will served by this? How can this be good? My heart is breaking for them. It is devastating on a level beyond losing my own Dad...He'd had a long life, an illness, time to say good bye, see his children grown, know his grandchildren and so much more...Chris didn't get to finish the life he'd planned. There were no good byes spoken. He was taken so quickly, so unexpectedly and I am struggling to make sense of it. Help us Lord to bear the sorrow that is so oppressive. Oh God. Help us to receive it and to glorify You in the midst of it, even when we cannot wrap our brains around it."

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. -Psalms 116:15
And yet--our hearts are broken.

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. -Romans 9:2

In my anguish, I cried to the Lord. -Psalms 118:5

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. -Revelation 21:4

The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for comfort all who bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a spirit of praise instead of despair. -Isaiah 61:1-3

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. -Jesus, Mark 14:34

Memorial services were help on June 30th. It would have been Chris' 49th birthday. Then reality began to set in. Now a year has passed. This weekend, Jacquie and her children, along with Patricia, are at that little beach cottage. It has been a long hard year for all of them. They are all learning to live without Chris, and that is no easy task. The work of grieving is not simple, nor is it swift. Declarations of trust in the promises of God have no doubt been given and revoked many times in the last twelve months. The finality of Chris' departure is still more than we can take in.

A whole year--and yet, there isn't much more understanding today than there was then. The shock of it is still breathtaking. It is still incomprehensible. I still cannot see the good in it. But, God has reminded me repeatedly that His ways are higher than ours, and that if He were small enough for me to understand, He might not be big enough to take care of us. I have been challenged to believe, even when I cannot understand.

I was reminded that decades ago, Chris was given a second chance at life. While crewing on a boat with two other friends, it took on water and sunk in the Atlantic. For several days, they were lost at sea, sharks circling and prospects of rescue were bleak until a worker on an Exxon Freighter spotted their tiny raft adrift in the distance. They were rescued and Chris came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord as a result of that experience.

He was given close to three decades more to live. Time to serve God and His people. Time to marry the woman he loved. Time to be a father to Zach and Olivia. Time to share his faith and the reason for his hope. He was living on bonus time. But, a year ago today, that time ran out, and for reasons we still can't comprehend, Jesus called him home. He had time. Not enough in our view, but exactly what was needed in God's.

It's enough to bring me to me knees. Which, I guess, is exactly where God wants me. This is where the rubber meets the road. So, here I am, on my knees, crying out, declaring my sorrow and confessing I still don't understand. Even so, I still believe. Even in the darkness. God is good, all the time. And for that, I am grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment