19 Jul Beauty from Ashes
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His voice was too calm, too measured. I knew this was not like the last accident when my husband called on his way home to say he had clipped the freeway divider. Even before hearing the details, my body began to shudder involuntarily and my eyes welled with tears
A day earlier, we had celebrated Mother’s Day with our church family. My father-in-law, a former missionary and university professor, had come to visit us in Portugal to perform our son’s baby dedication. The next day, he planned to ride along with my husband and our programmer to an installation site 300 kilometers to the south.
They had been gone just shy of an hour when I received the call. Still, in a state of shock, my husband mumbled they had been hit from behind on the freeway and their vehicle had overturned repeatedly from the impact. Pinned upside down in the wreckage, he somehow managed to retrieve his cell phone and call me. His physical injuries were minor; cocooned between the bucket seats, he had maintained consciousness throughout the entire incident. The others, however, were seriously wounded and unresponsive
We would later learn that our employee (and dear friend) had lost his life, and my father-in-law had sustained severe neurological trauma from the collision. He would spend the remainder of his life in a nursing home with 24-hour medical services.
In a split second, three family’s lives were forever changed and continue to be overshadowed by the consequences of this violent event: death, injury, trauma, a criminal case, a civil case, financial duress, grief, depression, fear, questions, injustice. After more than 11 years, the civil case has yet to be closed and damages awarded. The story is still unfolding.
And ours is by no means an isolated case. Almost daily, news headlines are bursting with real-life stories that include death, injury, trauma, injustice and lives altered in a moment. There have been so many, of late, that it is almost impossible not to wonder what is going to happen next. The sheer weight of the violence and brutality is enough to leave one paralyzed, engulfed in fear and uncertainty. On the surface, there seems only to be chaos.
In the face of all this, I have often found myself asking: What is the truth? What I’m really asking is to be reminded of transcendent Truth that can anchor me in the face of circumstances that threaten to consume us. If I can settle my mind on Truth, peace can be restored and the rest of my senses will eventually follow.
The truth is…
- Jesus is familiar with suffering and promises to never leave me or forsake me.
- I have been bought for a price, I am no longer my own, and I am living simultaneously in two dimensions. I am in this world but not of it. My real Home is elsewhere.
- I know how the story will ultimately end. And we are victorious.
- God WILL provide, even if the provision comes in unexpected packages.
- Scripture never promises a life free of difficulty, rather, we are exhorted to hold on to hope because Jesus already overcame the world.
- Faith overcomes this world. And faith works only one day at a time.
When I remember that all I am and all I have ultimately belongs to God, it’s easier for me to loosen my grip on what I hold dear and allow myself to trust. By remembering that I am seated with Christ in the heavenlies, I can accept more readily that I am a stranger on this earth. While stuff that happens can temporarily steal my happiness, it cannot touch my soul without permission. The sadness, suffering and frustration are real, but the deeper Reality of Christ in me provides strength to keep going.
Don’t get me wrong. I have had my share of moments where I didn’t think I could go on, where I cried myself to sleep, where I screamed and threw things out of despair, unsure of how else to release the pressure. However, I’ve learned that it’s ok to be human; it’s ok to feel. These feelings prove I exist. Yet there is a deeper place in me that remains steadfast despite the crashing waves. It is here that Mystery resides; where the Anchor keeps me from being utterly destroyed.
In these uncertain times, then, I want to move forward by faith, be astute but innocent, and love like there is no tomorrow.
I want to walk with my feet on the ground but my heart in eternity.
With gratitude, I want to cherish the small things because they are often what bring most life.
And I want to walk in community.
This earthly pilgrimage was meant to be made together with others. In some of our darkest moments these past 11 years, our greatest comfort has come through friends and family, and sometimes even through complete strangers. On many occasions, God has used the love of others to turn our despair into hope and our fear into faith, thus doing what only He can…create beauty from ashes.
July 19, 2016