I woke up this morning, rolled over, and flipped my TV on just as I do most days. The Today Show was on and I began to listen and realize that it was indeed New Years Eve, a day of reflection back on the past year for most people. The Today Show wasn’t just reflecting back on the year, but the decade. As I listened to their reflections, my mind took me back to 2010 and I started thinking about where I was 10 years ago.
In 2010 I found myself still married and caught between two significant deaths in my life. In 2009 I lost my beloved grandmother. The closest physical representation I had ever had to Jesus with skin on. She was my biggest fan and I was hers. We were joined at the hip and never far from each other’s thoughts. I had lost her in September of 2009 and the grief was still raw and palpable. What I didn’t know then was that the wave of grief was going to ebb and flow and join the tide of a new wave of grief in 2011 when I lost my husband of 12 years to suicide. It was a grief that was unspeakable and hard in so many ways. It was different from the grief I had with my grandmother. It was wrapped in anger and questions. In the places in my heart where I had known the unconditional love of a grandmother, I could let the tears fall and feel the feelings associated with grief. I could reflect back on happy memories and treasure them in my heart. I could grieve with the knowledge of knowing how deeply and fully I was loved.
With this death it wasn’t so cut and dry. It was full of questions and doubt. Had he ever truly loved me? Why in the world would he leave me? How am I going to do this...raise two boys on my own? How dare he? The grief of 2011 wasn’t really like what I had ever experienced. It was wild, raw, and unbridled anger. I learned the stages of grief aren’t linear and I could not control them. But there were moments of calm and peace. Those were the Jesus moments. The space and times that I would carve out to cry out. As the years wore on and the tide came and went, I learned to give my heart over to my sadness and grief. I began to learn to let go of the anger and questions of why. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight. It took years to heal from my dark night of the soul, but little by little, time and Jesus began the healing process.
This decade has been defined for me as one of getting to know God. When I say that I don’t mean to know Him so that I know where I’m going when I die. I mean to know Him as a friend and to know His physical presence. To know that no matter how hard the day is (or the hour or the minute) that He holds it all together in His hands. To know that He is big enough for the wrestling and the tears and the really hard questions. These 10 years I have grown to know that He is never far from me and my thoughts are never far from Him. When the hard days come, and they still do and always will this side of heaven, I can take a breath and listen to the waves of the inhales and exhales and know that He is within me and all around me. Jesus alone is my source of strength and security. I didn’t know that in 2010 like I know it now, almost on a cellular level.
So I stand at the end of this decade facing forward to a new one. And again death is on the horizon. This time it is the death of my biological father who I haven’t had a relationship with in 11 years. The questions are multi-faceted this time. The anger simmers below the surface and the tidal wave of grief is sure to come. These things I know because I have walked this road before. However, this time I walk with the knowledge and belief that my Savior walks in front of me. Step by step leading the way, catching the tears, preparing my heart for the inevitable. I am different now. I am more steady. I am more aware.
In many ways I am more alive than I was 10 years ago, which sounds strange in the face of death. But there-in lies one of the beautiful secrets with Jesus. I have known this for the past decade, but I forgot until recently when a friend reminded me. In the times of darkness, the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world becomes paper thin, almost translucent at times. It’s almost as if you can reach out and touch the face of God Himself. And if you sit still long enough and you listen with a quiet heart and a still mind you can hear His heartbeat and physically feel His compassion and mercy for you. In those moments you realize He grieves with us. Just as He dreams with us, loves with us, and encourages us. We truly are His beloved sons and daughters who He longs to know and comfort. It is that knowledge that keeps my feet moving forward on this hard path called Earth; striving forward to the day when He will wipe away every tear and death and mourning shall be no more.
I hope and pray I can look back on this next decade in 2029 and still say the same thing...yes this decade was full of ups and downs but I know Jesus better today than I did then. The veil is thin and His love is unconditional and pure. I found this verse in Jeremiah yesterday and I am carrying it into the new year as my touchstone.
"For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever."
"Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me."”
Jeremiah 33:17-18, 20-22 ESV
His promises are sure! He can’t be anything but faithful and His promises cannot fail. That covenant cannot and will not be broken! The throne of David is occupied forever by the One, True King who is seated at the right hand of our Father and has all things underneath His feet, including death. One day, hopefully soon, the Father will lean over to His Son and say, “Go get them! I am ready for all of my children to be Home and at peace.” On that day the clouds will roll back and we will see Him face to face and all things will become clear and the veil will be forever gone.
If you don’t know Jesus or if you aren’t sure, contact me. I would love to tell you my story and I would love to share my Jesus with you. Maybe together we can stand shoulder to shoulder on that day and know that we knew Him here on Earth together, but we will live forever as brothers and sisters KNOWING Him face to face. May the New Year hold all that God has in store for all of us...the hard times and the good times...all for His glory and always in His presence with the full assurance that we are loved deeply with a love that death cannot separate or overcome. Let the tides come and carry us to new levels of awareness and knowledge of Jesus.