Answered Prayers 5 & 6

Answered Prayers 5 & 6 May 7, 2014

Today, last year, I wrote this regarding the death of my best friend:


Since 2005, I dread every May 7th. With it brings a rush of overwhelming loss. I miss her. I don’t have any words of wisdom, or insights on how to deal with death. I’ve known lots of people who have died, but I never imagined I would lose her so abruptly. They tell you life is fragile, but you never really know what they mean until you experience it. Such loss. Such sadness. So alone. Time doesn’t heal the deepest kinds of wounds, but it can numb them. Over the years I’ve processed my pain. I’ve dealt with it. I’ve tried to lift it up and let it go. I’ve found joy and laughter and hope that I didn’t think was possible after she left. I only indulge the ache once a year anymore.  I don’t really have anything to say, except to raise my glass and toast the life of a beautiful friend. To commemorate her life and make it known that her absence is still deeply felt. I say again the last words I spoke to her in this world, “I love you.”

Steph and I at my wedding 2004.

Today, I am praising God. In the last 12 months, both of my favorite grandparents, the two who were most influential in my life, died. One of them was saved and the other I don’t know about. In the last year, I have stood in the sidelines and watched friends miscarry their babies and family of friends lose husbands and fathers. I now pray daily for a friend who is losing her fight against cancer. But I don’t feel lost and I don’t feel alone. Of course death makes me sad, and I do weep, but it isn’t overwhelming anymore.  Several months ago, my church hosted a series of lectures on death. I was unable to go see, but I listened to them here.  Around the same time, I also glimpsed my own death when I developed some alarming health problems. By the grace of God, I emerged from these experiences peaceful and unafraid of death for the first time in my life. He steeped me in understanding: everything that happens to us, comes from His hand.  This is particularly fortunate if you happen to be afraid.  Death is not the worst thing that could happen. Sin is. And I already deal with sin on a daily basis. The worst has already happened. Eve partook and then so did Adam. But then the best thing that could ever happen, did happen:

“I believe in God the Father Almighty,

And in Christ Jesus, his only Son, our Lord

Who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried

And the third day rose from the dead…”

 My God is the only one to have ever bounced back from death. Jesus died on the cross and came back to life. This is the God I worship.  We are living in the aftermath now, but we can do so hopefully and joyfully, because the course of history has been changed. Death isn’t final. It’s going to be ok. It already is. I will see Stephanie and Tony again. I’ll meet their daughter, Zoe. I’ll feel the embrace of my Grandma again. I’ll sit and talk about books with my friend in the future. I’ll meet my friend’s unborn children.  (I don’t know if my Grandfather was saved, but I know the only true Savior. I know He is mighty and good and merciful and I can rest in that understanding.)

Time doesn’t heal pain. Time numbs pain. But I don’t feel numb anymore. The Lord Jesus Christ heals pain. The Lord Jesus Christ brings us wisdom and peace therein. I’m not hiding from anything or anyone. I’m not shoving my feelings down or covering them up. I’ve never been as honest with myself as I have been in the last year. Never have I felt such peace. This is an answer to prayer.

Answered Prayer No. 6: I grew up in a lapsed Christian home. We went to church. I had a believer’s baptism when I was 16. I knew the words. But the god I was introduced to was not the God I know today. Although it was never explicit, salvation was works based and god was a vindictive kill joy who held grudges. That god needed my help to save his own creation. You can see why I didn’t want to live in that world. You can see why I walked away from that religion, as did many of my family members. There are 6 of us kids and most of us have grown apart. Two of us still go to church and read our Bibles routinely (that I know of) and I am so thankful for that. For the others, I know what it feels like to believe in a false god and it is awful. I hurt for them. I pray for them. Yesterday I got a call from one of my siblings. He wants to come to church with us — my heart leapt for joy! This is a direct answer to prayer, friends. I want my loved ones to find purpose and fulfillment. I want them to have what I’ve been given: unshakable peace and the fountain of joy. The only place to find this is at the cross.  The cross is the only place where we can see how ugly we truly are and the only place where we can bathe in His love for us. In the light of Christ’s beauty, His overwhelming sacrifice, we see that only God can sufficiently fill us up. This is wonderful news and it is true for every person on the planet! This gift is free and it is for you and for me. It is for my family, for my friends, neighbors and strangers alike. All God asks is that we give ourselves over to Him completely. To stop worrying. To stop fearing. To stop fighting. To start seeing the truth and to rejoice in it.   The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart —  which is, admittedly, easier said than done. But lucky for us, in our weakness He is glorified — He is risen!

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”

-Psalm 40:1-3


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