Valley of the Shadow of Death

(A post from the first days after putting Jonathan in the ground.)

Day 5

Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

A spur of the moment trip yesterday afternoon to Coco Key Resort, produced a valuable image for Daniel and I to hold onto as we walk through the darkness of Jonathan’s death. Daniel is tall enough to ride the four big slides, and this summer his confidence in the water has skyrocketed. He and I tackled the first one on a two-seater inner tube. After that he was ready to tackle it alone and then moved onto the body slides.

But, he declared from the beginning, that he would not go on the two slides that did not let light in. I have to admit, I had no intention of going on those either. Later, I’m not even sure what prompted me to go on the dark body slide alone, but I did. Maybe I chose the tube because I am already walking through the darkest place imaginable. The slide was as dark as the inside of a cave cavern. I could not see the twists and turns and I didn’t know how long the ride would be, but I knew the light was at the end.

Just before leaving, Daniel grabbed the two-seater and declared that he wanted to ride the dark slide. As soon as we started down I could sense his fear. I declared that I was still beside him, and that the light would greet us at the end. When we exited the pool I told him that this how I feel with God right now. I don’t see him, but I hear his voice, and I’m trying to stand on the truth of his character. In the car the kids asked to listen to their Music Camp CD. One of the songs was “You Never Let Go”. As Daniel listened he exclaimed, “That is like the dark slide! I couldn’t see you, but I knew you were there. I know God is there, and that he won’t let go of me.”

Yes Daniel, and yes reader, God will never let go of you! Through whatever storm or dark place in this life you are going through. Our part is to know that he is here. For me, the only way to obtain that knowledge has been to read about his character in scripture, to pray, and to practice walking in faith. I can’t see where this devastating dark twist will lead, but I won’t turn back, because I know you are here.

Goals:
1. Let others help me today.
2. Work on my song.
3. Find a new copy of Barbra Johnson’s book. (Meet me at half-priced books anyone?)

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Hearing God in the Silence of Grief

Romans 8:31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”j

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

It’s the silence, after a house full of guests, that threatens to undo me. In grief, you brace yourself for the days of deepest memories, but the days that would have been routine, those are the days that crush bones. In these difficult days I grow best if I listen to what the new aspects of grief want to tell me.

I hear God calling me.

I am here, in this season of depression, to shout that God makes a way through. I am being stretched and prepared to love more deeply than I ever thought possible, so that you know, beyond a shadow of doubt that God loves you. He has chosen you since before the beginning of creation! There is not a single second of your existence that does not matter to him.

Lean in and listen to the silence of your circumstances. Allow God to teach you more about both loss and gain than you knew before. Grief can widen our hearts to love God and our neighbor more deeply or close us off. Perspective is the only difference. Do I fix my eyes on the evil of losing Jonathan, meant to harm me (which it was), or allow God to transform my loss into good, for the salvation of many? Even typing these words are hard. I grapple with the untamed nature of God most when ask this question.

But, then I look at the son God did not spare. Was the cross evil. Yes. Was Jesus innocent. Yes. Did God spare Jesus. No  What kind of God operates this way? I have heard again and again from people suffering the horrid torment of cancer that they felt God’s presence, and were able to love more deeply than before their cancer. What kind of God determines what is evil as being for the good of the world?

A God who is not limited by evil!  A God who sent his own son to the pits of hell to save us. A God who gave us over to ourselves, but made a way for us to be better since the beginning of time. My God isn’t tame, he is dangerous to follow, but he is good! How glad that I am that God has never fit into my box, or been limited by what evil men do!

Listen to God’s call on your life and walk through the flames if that is where he leads. He may take you out of the furnace, he may take you through the furnace, or he might take you by the furnace, but one thing is certain, others will see him standing with us as we walk in obedience to his will.

 

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