Grief Multiplied


Writer’s Note: Losing a loved one is hard, but when you have no idea about that loved one’s spiritual condition, the grief is multiplied times infinity. I know. I’ve experienced this place of excruciating limbo with two of my loved ones so far this lifetime. I wrote about it a few years ago following the death of one of my brothers and I share it today again because its message is so important.

Whether you are the griever or the “lost,” this post is for you. I do hope you will take some time to read, comment and/or share it if you feel so led.

And, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior or you have, but for whatever reason haven’t shared your decision with your loved ones, please consider taking the next step today–if not for yourself, for your loved ones. Please don’t take a chance on leaving them to wonder if they will see you again. 

Lastly, if you are the one left behind to wonder, just know that God will NOT NOW OR EVER leave nor forsake you and He will help you through it. He certainly did me and my family.

May God continue to wrap us all in His infinite love and blessings and may we all feel His Presence today and everyday. Amen and Ehmen.


September 7, 2016

One year ago today, I heard your voice for the last time.

I miss you, dear brother.

Truth is, I have missed you every day since you left us, but as we move closer and closer to the one year anniversary of your death, it has been especially hard.

While the grief process continues and I have taken many strolls down memory lane remembering your life, these last few days have found me especially reflective of your death. Those were dark days, brother. Painful days. It was so hard to watch mama as she realized she had to let you go. No mother should ever have to bury her child.

It was hard to watch the interaction between you and Karen. It was obvious that she was the love of your life. As dim as your eyes became, the soul-depth love you had for her burst forth like a beacon in the darkest of nights. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.

It was hard for all of us who loved you to say goodbye, but we didn’t have a choice. All of our days on this earth are numbered and, ready or not, one day the last day will come for all that have ever drawn breath. Still, I can promise you none of us were ready for it to be your time.

At the time, the worst part of it all, Gary, was not really knowing your spiritual condition; not being sure that you had accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Not being sure that you would soon enjoy everlasting life with our Father in Heaven. I know that it was said many times right before and after your passing that a man’s faith is a personal matter and that one doesn’t have to talk about it, but that just isn’t true. No words will ever be able to express the extreme heartache not knowing levies on the hearts of those who struggle with the thought of never seeing their loved one again.

It is the same wrenching heartache that I felt a few years prior when I, as an adult, began to deal with the tragic death of our daddy decades before. In talking to mom one day, I discovered that at the time of dad’s death, she wasn’t certain of his salvation. Like you, he was a man with a heart of gold and a man of great respect and humble attitude, but, unfortunately, they had never talked about it. Having been only eight when dad was taken from us, I never really got to know him. I can only hope for another chance on the other side.

But, back to you. Your last days were heavily laden with prayer, by me, by family, by friends and the church. Though I didn’t really get the opportunity to talk to you directly about God, our cousin Patty did. Still, we weren’t sure where you stood and that hurt more than anything. But, then something happen. I was getting ready for your memorial service. It had been an emotionally charged week and I really wasn’t thinking about anything. My mind and emotions were taking a well-needed time-out when, out of the blue at exactly 7:53 a.m. September 10, 2015, the following words floated into my mind. As clear as the spoken word I heard Him say: “I know his name, child, and he knows Mine.”

Now, Gary, that’s not a phrase that I had ever heard and I knew instantly that it was the still small voice of our ever-loving God. Powerful words swaddled in that unsurpassed comfort and peace that can only come from Him. I just knew and it’s all I needed.

I was so excited and relieved that when got to your memorial service, the first person I hunted down was Patty; and when we hugged, I excitedly whispered the good news. She, too, began to grin from ear to ear.

“Brenda,” she told me. “I prayed all night and all the way up here, begging God to show either you or me that Gary was with Him.”

Sigh. What a beautiful gift. I can’t tell you how much easier it made it to say goodbye. You know it rained during your service that day and I can just remember thinking that it was apropos. In fact, I think it was Heaven’s way of helping us mourn our loss while celebrating its gain.

Now, what about dad?

Though I have spent the last several years hoping and feeling like he is probably with you in our eternal home in Heaven, I have never received such certain reassurance as I did with you. Until this week. Enter another cousin. This one, Debbie, one of Uncle Don’s daughters. She had read a recent post about how hard it was to hear that daddy’s salvation was also unknown to those who loved him most. It spurred a memory that she shared, probably a nudge from God, if I had to guess.

As you know, Uncle Don also left this earth way too early. He died in a car accident when he was in his early 30s, leaving behind a beautiful bride and two beautiful young daughters. Daddy always made sure to stay connected to them and our families were quite close, I am told.

What I didn’t know was that Aunt Vera Lee, Uncle Don’s widow, had spent some time in the hospital visiting daddy during his last days. Debbie relayed a sweet story that her mom had shared before she passed about how they sang a hymn together and that daddy had been the one to start the singing. She also relayed how she had felt the presence of Uncle Don in the room with them, so heavy, in fact, that she said she actually spoke his name out loud.

“Brenda, Mama said that she was convinced that she felt Daddy Don’s presence so strongly because he had come to show Uncle Billy the way,” my dear cousin wrote in a note this week. “And we all know the devil doesn’t send someone to comfort and guide you on your journey home.”

Sigh. Another beautiful gift. We will see you both again! And Uncle Don, who I never knew. And Grandma. And Granddaddy. And our beautiful aunts, Aunt Hazel and Aunt Vera Lee. You are all there waiting for the rest of us and celebrating every moment with our Awesome and Beautiful Creator. I can only imagine, but boy oh boy do I enjoy imagining that day!

But, until then, I still miss you. And, yes, there are still tears, but they are no longer all sorrowful. They are also intermingled with tears of joy knowing you are enjoying everlasting life and that one day we will meet again.

Until then, to you and all of our loved ones previously departed, much love from earth to heaven.

Amen and Ehmen.

Of Sheep and Shepherds…Of Lost and Found


Good Morning, God.

It’s 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday and, though I was honestly hoping to dear godsleep in, I am so very happy to spend some quiet time with you. I learn so much when my world, both the external and internal, is quiet; when it’s just You and me; when Your Peace floats down from heaven and settles like a warm blanket over me. Oh, sweet Jesus, there is simply nothing like it. Thank you for waking me up on this beautiful morning.

This morning, I am drawn into Your Word, specifically Romans 10, Verses 8-10:

“In fact, it says, ‘The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.’ And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:8-10

Lord, I pray this morning that you really open Your Word up to me in a way like never before; let it be as if I am peering into a place where it is played out before my very eyes; beckon me in and allow me to mingle among not just the words, but with You, the One that breathed them into being; the One that breathed me into being. Take my hand, Lord. Take my heart, Lord. Send me. Use me. Allow me to fulfill Your will and purpose for me and to encourage and enflame others to do so as well; for life without You and Your promise and Your grace is no life at all, but simply a miserable existence. I love you, Lord, with all my heart and soul. Thank you for Jesus; for the gift of salvation.

Thank you for giving me the desire and the means to openly declare that Jesus is Lord and to believe in my heart that You raised him from the dead; for because of these things, I am saved and am promised eternal life with You! Oh, how I want to shout it from the rooftops! The Good News that we are saved by grace and not by works…that we are saved by a free gift that is ours for the taking. Lord, thank you for that…thank you for You. Amen and Ehmen.

 

Dear Child of Mine:

Oh, how I love you and how I love spending time with you. You know, lost and found imagetime is something I gave you to help keep order in your world; to help you in fulfilling My will and purposes for you. There just seems to be something about the ticking of the clock, the passing of second, minutes, days, weeks and years that eventually brings about a sense of urgency and getting My message to the world is an urgent matter, just as it always has been. In fact, child, it is just as critical that My message be spread across the world today as it was back in the days of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And your role in spreading that message is just as important as it was for Paul and the rest of the disciples. The fact is, My child, there are souls, sheep, out there that need to hear your voice; your declaration of faith; your story of what I have done for you; your story of once being lost but now found. This, my child, is why you are here—to help spread the Good News and find My other lost sheep, each one of whom is very valuable to Me and to my Kingdom; not just as a group, but as individuals as well. Have you ever noticed that the word sheep is the same whether referring to one single living creature or a billion? Just as the quantity does not change the word, the quantity does not change the importance of My sheep to Me. One lost sheep grieves me just as much as numbers that you can not even count. They are one and the same to Me. This is why your calling is so very important; infinitely and eternally important. Embrace it, My child; relish in the fact that you are no longer a lost sheep yourself and know that I am celebrating that as well; shouting with glee from My throne in heaven; but also don’t waste any precious time in embracing your new “found” position as one of My own shepherds. You only have a limited amount of time on earth. Grab hold of each minute as if it were your last; take hold of My hand and the hands of time and let not a single opportunity pass by to shepherd the lost back into the flock. Oh what joy it brings when the lost is found! Oh what joy you bring Me, My child! What joy it brings to see My will being done on earth. My Kingdom is on its way, My dear child, and Heaven is is just a blink away! And until that twinkling happens, until you are with Me here in Heaven, I will remain there with you at all times, cradling your heart and spirit so that you need not fear ever being lost again; eternity started for you the moment that you were found and declared your love for me. I want all of My children to experience that; to experience Me. Oh, how I love My children.

And the Word of God Says…

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:3-7

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

–Amen and Ehmen!