She said, “do not forecast grief” and it got stuck somewhere on a pathway between an axon and a neuron in all that gelatinous gray matter that’s capable of more harm than good inside my skull, and the skipping sentence kept firing itself off every time I saw certain destruction in my future. This statement flowed right off the tips of fingers that obeyed what her mind had come to believe, to trust, to hope in and to guard. These same fingers extended in a sacred and transformable grace that physically touched the same savage murderers, a jungle tribe of fierce warriors, who speared down her first husband, the one who gave his life in order that they might hear, see, taste and touch Christ. These broken and barbaric natives she would return to with her year-old daughter to continue her husband’s legacy of hope to go into all the nations shining the light of Christ.
She married again and her second earthly love met Jesus face to face long before she would. A woman of sorrows, and a woman of immovable and monumental faith. I wish I knew her, but she passed this last year, leaving a legacy of biblical womanhood most of us will never measure up to, though I continue to strive.
I could reason all day long why my mind entertains visions of future grief. I mean its easy to do, isn’t it? Us moms seem to be prone to being anxious, after all, our families depend on us, right? Take a breath here now before I give you the answer…
I could agree with modern psychology on the subject, recorded in scholarly journals, that argue nurture vs. nature, environmental influences, traumatic events in childhood, etc., are the root cause of my fears…
or, I could stand on ancient truth, swaddle my heart in sovereign Love and providence, and nestle under the wing of my Father, knowing He works out all things for my good and that “tomorrow is none of my business…” as this dear old pillar of Titus 2 echoed in many of her messages.
And so in the grief that was appointed along my path of 45 years and a few more weeks and days added to that, has taught me that my fears are rooted in the pride of desiring a control over that which only God sets in motion, and an unbelief that still sprouts stubborn in my own dark, uncultivated heart.
The reality is we all experience traumatic events that have the ability to shape our lives. The first one I remember rings about as loud as that wall phone I answered when I was 10. That forever remembered phone call that interrupted our normal and safe American Christmas. I’ve answered two of those in my life now, one when I was just a decade old, the second 26 years later. But on the eve of celebrating Christ’s birth where Santa is no longer real, and you realize your parents go to great lengths to make Christmas everything your heart desires,
Our home was warmed cozy with crackling burning oak, grandma’s familiar gooey bars of caramel, and jovial bickering between dad and his mother-in-law over who belonged in the kitchen, chopping and dicing. Shiny boxes riddled the floor overflowing from under the boughs of decorated evergreen, this was our storybook backdrop of waiting. We had planned and prepared for our familiar guests, we joyously awaited their arrival,
but their chairs at the feasting table remained empty that year, their presents unopened.
I had waited in anticipation for my favorite uncle who was sure to bring more excitement and added fun to the season,
he always brought more fun…
but that drunk knocked his soul from his body that night instead….and left his family in a heap of twisted metal lying in the wake of battered shiny wrapped boxes, now splattered with his blood.
How is that for a Christmas celebration?
Do not forecast grief.
And then a few short seasons later, you lose the home you grew up in, the one you still see 27 years later housing fond memories of a sliding hill, a two-story treehouse, a lit-up and bubbling jukebox in the basement where you and your friends danced to the fifties music still stacked inside of it. American greed and a crashing economy that gave rise to inflated interest rates, forced your family out of those four walls that made you feel safe. This home, the one you still drive to down that old familiar road, where you first learned to navigate that 76′ Caddy, when you visit.
Do not forecast grief.
Then you begin your life as a single mom and meet the man of your dreams and you’re diagnosed with a benign blood cancer in need of monitoring and constant testing and powerful medication in order to keep it in check so it doesn’t stop your heart or build a sticky dam of a clot and cut off your lifeblood between your brain and your heart, or lodge itself somewhere in your massive spaghetti highway of veins and arteries..
Do not forecast grief.
Ten years and three kids later you fear you are losing your mind as you suffocate under the weight of anxiety and paralyzing fear and it knocks you down into your bed where you stay for two weeks, fighting for every breath and a sane and sound mind.
Eight months later your firstborn slams herself into that interstate tree, still standing…that seems to be stronger than your marriage that fell apart under the weight of it all. And a decade into everything you’ve learned to gauge in time according to either before or after the accident, is inching you forward in a ten-year recovery. Breathing is getting easier now.
Do not forecast grief.
And now you are afraid to hope for normalcy,
and a season of rest.
and yet God says there is a season for everything, and you hope this is your season, and you pray this is your season, and your tears reflect past pain juxtaposed against unexplainable peace and a holy sewing of satisfaction in the appointed grief.
Because in the margin of that Holy sword that you open up morning after morning, the one that keeps piercing you and carving into your soul…the one where you wrote on the first page of James:
“My Trials and the teaching of God”
- Blood Condition /taught me to trust every day of my life is recorded in His book.
- Anxiety and depression/taught me who God is instead of who I thought He was.
- Hannah’s accident/taught me intimacy with Christ and submission to His holy will.
- An eight month long digestive illness that caused constant pain/taught me God’s discipline and the sweet love He has for His children.
- Ongoing marriage trials/taught me to love God more than my husband and to keep serving and loving.
And you know that He indeed did work all things together for your good and His glory and taught you that this,
“momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2nd Corinthians 4:17-18.
And you come to believe its not your trials that shape you, but the God of the universe whose heart is kind and whose thoughts towards you are precious, is the one who perseveres you through each affliction in order that you begin to look more and more like His Son.
And your heart that once fell out of the nest and hit the ground way too fast and too hard,
is now soaring at the thought of radiating Christ and giving off a holy scent that awakens others who can’t pick their hearts up out of the dirt.
And you stop forecasting grief,
because tomorrow is none of your business,
and today you smell good to somebody, and that life-giving aroma, that scent of a holy mystery that emanates from your pores, that fragrance that smells like the pleasing oils of a King…
someone will catch a whiff,
and breathe His breath,
and rise out of their death slumber.
And the words of Christ will sink into those stubborn fear roots and cultivate the truth that will eventually choke them out and set you free,
“do not be anxious for tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself…”
Tomorrow is the Father’s business, it always was,
and He is a good, good Father.
and you finally believe you can rest in today.
Held, consumed in hot breath and living love of Christ,