I won’t lie. Writing has not come so easy as of late. I get the writer’s block angle but it is not just this, I think it is the journey. It is dealing with the long, tiring slog full of fits and starts in the valley of suck.
Yesterday, my kids and I visited a church that was new to us. We are doing a lot of visiting of churches together. I am finding this to be really good for us as a family. Not only do we have time together but I get a chance to teach them and they can experience, just how big Jesus’ Church really is!
During the service, I was led from being a parent caring for his kids and a pastor observing the flow and experience, to being part of the worshipping congregation. The second song of the morning (which I didn’t know before Sunday) brought me to tears as the words eloquently described the wonder of what the Wesleyan-Methodist movement terms “prevenient grace.” Take a listen if you have time:
“His careful hands they hold us
Safe within His promise
Of calling and of destiny
I will sing of all You've done
I'll remember how far You carried me
From beginning until the end
You are faithful, faithful to the end”
Just to clarify, “prevenient” is just a descriptive word (not found in scripture) to describe the grace (revealed in scripture) at work when we are completely clueless of God working (John Calvin, I believe, describes a similar grace termed “common grace”).
Now, I am not nor have I been, clueless to the reality God has been at work in my life and all around me. I do not question “...God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).”
Here is one of the many problems of pulling out this verse too early as a means of comfort for many people in deep grief: we don’t care.
I’ve noted some other things before such as I do not believe God took my wife and the mother of my children. She died because she (and we) are mortal creatures - mortal because of the soul wound which we suffer with since Genesis 3. She did not die because there was not enough prayers or some secret, unconfessed sin. Please. Spare us all - you did not know my wife that well and God did not put some secret wisdom on your heart (that reeks of the heresy of gnosticism. Sorry, but it does).
In the midst of great grief, there is not space in a heart to deal with any mystery more than the death of a loved one, in my case, my spouse. There is mystery enough abounding in our lives as we witness physical life ending for the person we know best. There are multiple questions abounding but no answer ought to be expected (even if we act like it would help). But really, we don't care if God has a plan or not for things to work good. It hurts. We weep because we know pain and loss. We sob because we are human - and we have lost. There will come a day when we can wonder about God's purpose - but the day will be a day when WE are ready.
It has been over four months now. And it was not until yesterday, singing and seeing the words of "Faithful Till The End," when I got an answer (or maybe more of a non-answer/answer). It was not the WHOLE answer. I am not expecting it and to expect it, would just be silly. But it was the start of God responding. I have been praying and seeking and waiting for God to say something.
It was like, well, it was like writing. God gave me the first sentence of the larger answer. It was God saying, “Look back. I know you know but look anyway. - I was there. I came to you. I was there with Heather and you know she is with me...AND I am with you and your kids now. I have more to say but today, this is all you need.”
Grief is a tremendously long journey. No one has to know how God is going to work suffering and pain for good in our lives. I would argue, it may not even be good for us to know too soon. Humanity needs humility. Death brings us all to the same place. Humanity has yet to find a cure for death and for all the stories of mythical fountains of youth, we are not going to find what we want. And though we don’t get what we want, in God’s promises and God's actions, we can find what we need.
“Faithful to the End” is the song quoted:https://bethelmusic.com/chords-and-lyrics/have-it-all-faithful-to-the-end/
Picture Used with permission: