Friday, July 31, 2015

Now what?

Death is hard...but you know that. Accidents are not expected, yet they happen. The emotions that accompany grief are a challenge to explain and even more difficult to experience. Over the last three days we've been walking a road that we would never choose. If you haven't read my previous post, "Grieving for, and with, Grace" you may not know our 20 year old niece was killed in a car/bike accident Wednesday morning.

Since writing those words much has happened - tears have flowed, hugs have been given and prayers prayed. The out pouring of support and sympathy has been amazing; the pouring out of tears has almost been unbearable. I have been numb and out of sorts, so have my kids. I've struggled to focus and my mind has wondered. Today, day 3, has been my most difficult...I think the shock is wearing off and reality is setting in. This really happened and we are preparing to bury a girl who was full of life. Friends, I know you've experienced loss and understand it hurts.

It not only creates pain, but it also can mess with your mind. Well, mine at least. I know I'm lacking sleep and have been focused on helping my 5 kids process through a grief they've never known. As I worked to take care of them, I kind of forgot to take care of myself. This morning I didn't want to get out of bed, I longed for the nightmare to be over, but life kept happening.

A week ago I was in North Carolina having a wonderful time at the She Speaks Conference and returned encouraged. I boarded an airplane and believed God had really called, equipped and prepared me to speak and write. I asked Him for open doors and a humble, obedient heart. I arrived home never expecting Him to do what He has done. The blog post I wrote Wednesday, one with words I needed to hear, is one He used to encourage the hearts of many...more than I can even imagine. He's answering the prayer I prayed, but yet I've found myself struggling.

I'm not questioning the call, but instead my desire. I've found myself thinking if this, the death of a loved one and the grief it includes, is what it takes, I don't want to do it. Like I said, grief messes with my mind. I've sent a few rambling emails and took part in a few similar conversations, only to finish them and ask, "What did I just say?" (Sorry to those of you on the other end.)

This afternoon, all my kids were busy else where and I had some much needed alone time, well I wasn't really alone because I was able to be still, read the Word and talk to God. Prior to this, I was driving to the field to deliver my boys for a combine ride and God was whispering to my heart. Farming is a job that's never done, it's actually more of a lifestyle than a career, and in many ways it's similar to faith. Our journey of faith is continuous...we can't push pause when hard things happen, or good for that matter. We must press on and do the work, even if we don't feel like it. Just like the guys kept combining, I had to keep seeking.

As I got back in the vehicle, a line from a song caught my attention - "I will choose to believe the voice of Truth." Instantly, I recalled a boy from last month's VBS class...we were talking about being with friends who were doing the wrong thing. I was hinting at avoiding the situation and wise, little Andrew says, "You can choose not to do it."

And friend, these two reminders - the one to keep pressing on and the other about choice, were just what I needed as I wrestle with the question, "Now what?" Grace's earthly life is over, but your's and mine are not. God has not completed the work He's begun in us and He's promised to do just that. (See Philippians 1:6) If that's the case, we must keep walking with Him, even when, no especially when we want to crawl up in a ball and stay in bed. I'm not saying we can't cry and grieve and push pause on our to-do list, but we must stay in communion with the God who created us. We must abide in His Word. (John 15) We must look for Him in our day (1 Chronicles 16:11) even when our vision is blurred from the tears that won't stop. He's there, He's here and He won't leave us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) I'm grateful others are praying, but I can't forget I need to pray as well. (1 Thes. 5:17) My feelings can leave me down, make me sad and create doubt, but I'm reminded of Lysa TerKeurst saying, "Feelings are indicators, not dictators." They can tell what my mind is experiencing, but they don't have to determine what I believe.

God has given us free will and the power of choice...when I'm sad and my mind is racing, I can choose doubt, fear, despair or guilt. Or we can choose TRUTH. For those of us who loved Grace, our life has changed, but our God has not. The Scripture that encouraged me last week holds the same power today. The God I praised for being good and faithful, powerful and present in North Carolina during such a spiritual high is still worthy of my praise now in Iowa during such a devastating loss. Friends, we must remember that God loves us. The same God who saved Grace spiritually can save us emotionally. Our Lord and Savior knows what it is to suffer and He will walk this road with us. He had a plan for Grace, and He has one for you and me too. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I believe those plans will intersect in the days to come...on Monday we will celebrate Grace's life as her funeral is held at our local high school. Everyone thought her time on the court was done, but God is giving her one last chance to shine and I truly believe lives and hearts will be impacted in the gym for eternity!

Today I took some time to read back through the Facebook messages I had from Grace and I'm grateful. Her final statement spoke to me deeply...I had sent her a pic of our daily Bible reading calendar, which on the top Joy had reminded us to pray for Grace and her mission trip. She was appreciative, shared a bit and closed with this, "Staying energized and pumped up to work with the kids is hard sometimes. But God just keeps giving us what we need :)"

I read those words and God spoke to my heart, assuring me He gave Grace all she needed and He would do the same for me and all who are grieving. His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:23)

Friend, I don't know if you're struggling with a "Now what?" in your own life, but perhaps we need to do what my daughter did and add a reminder to our daily calendar and then do it. We will no longer be praying for Grace, our niece and cousin, but oh our need for God's GRACE is vital. His Word tells us, "Ask and it shall be given to you." (Matthew 7:7) We're also instructed to "cast our cares on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) Aside from God's GRACE, I've also been convicted that I need to pray for hunger...aside from my two, little, growing boys the rest of us haven't had much of an appetite. And physically that's a problem, but it's worse when it's a spiritual one. The other day I read Wendy Blight say, "Faith feeds on the Word of God." Today I prayed, "Lord help me long for your spiritual milk like a newborn (1 Peter 2:2) and make my soul pant for You like the deer pants for water." (Psalm 42:1)

It's been humbling to hear from others who read my last I need just as much as everyone else and I pray this message encourages as well. I know it's one I will return to in the days to come...God often has me write about Truth because He knows I will again need to read it! May we continue to remember who He is and power He has while we live out the plan He wants to unfold! Love you friends and thank you for your prayers!
smile emoticon

1 comment:

  1. Jill, I'm just now getting to read both of your posts. Grace's name was so perfectly chosen. She truly is God's Grace personified. So are YOU. I love you and am holding you tight my dear friend...