I didn't understand death at 18 years old. I have never seen anyone dead before this time. Broken, lost and confused with my teenage mind. I would began college a few months later and learn about reincarnation. Could it be that my dad would come back as something else? The things I heard only confused me more. I wasn't sure about God because he took my dad away from me. I was really searching for answers. I just felt so messed up inside. At my dad's funeral, this was read:
Psalm 23 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
What did this chapter really mean to me at that time? That answer is nothing. I felt mad at God and alone. As life would travel forward, I would find myself going back to this chapter. This chapter is for the living and knowing we are not alone in life. It was within a few months, I would find myself taking my mom back to the place I disliked the most which was church. A place where people acted better than you, talked about how God needed my dad more than I did and frustration filled me more. Yet, I was trying to get my mom help. She was crying all the time and I couldn't deal with that. Through my deepest pain at that point, I needed God but didn't realize it. I did not have a source of strength, encouragement or someone who walked with me. I heard about Jesus as a kid and I heard that he loved me. That stood out to me and never left me. So how do I find this Jesus to be real in my life as a teenager?
I read this in the Bible: a time to be born and a time to die. It was going to happen one day that each of us would die and only God knew that timing. I somehow rested in that fact over time, but didn't like it. It was in that church that I would hear a little boy preach and I wanted to know more. I didn't realize that little boy was my age and would someday be my husband. I just wanted to hear the kid preach. Yes, over 40 years of marriage now, a lot of ups and downs, but standing firm on the word of God. I have learned to trust the Lord through it all. Hold my head up high with others have hurt me deep. Cried myself to sleep over things I just didn't get and yet, such a peace within my heart. Sounds crazy but only God can give that peace we search for in life. Yet, in the death part of life, I will never understand God's timing for some people, but I will trust him in it.
I believe that somebody was praying for me when I couldn't pray for myself as a teenager. I believe that through my dad's death, life came to me through a Sunday school teacher. A young woman told her story of her dad's death and how she was angry at God. She had no idea what I was going through or how that ministered to my life. It changed me that day and it became an interest in knowing Jesus for myself. The search of knowing God the way my dad did.
Yesterday was my dad's birthday. I thought of him, missed him and shed tears. I wish I had moments with him. I wish he could have walked me down the isle of marriage, hold his grandchildren and great grand children. I wish he could have walked longer on earth and it's okay to have those moments of missing a loved one. It's okay to cry and weep, but it's okay to smile again. It's okay to live again with memories and thanking God for the time you did have. Oh it's all so easy to say and much harder to do. I missed my dad like crazy and I only had 18 years with him. I have had more years not with him now, but remember him in my heart. I may never understand the why of what I saw that day my dad died or why he had to leave so soon, but I know this, I do trust the Lord with all my heart.
Today marks the life celebration of my friend Chris Conlee. I met her through Amanda (her daughter) at church. Such an amazing lady and yet so short years on earth. My heart hurts for her family and there appear to be no words to make it better. I would ask today that you pray with me for them. Death is a process of change and not easy. Chris stands out to me as a friendly, warm, loving lady. She always had encouraging words for me and meant so much. I wish I had spent more time with her. Amanda spoke to her mom everyday and her heart is broken. Amanda is the age of my kid/adults and I feel her broken heart. Let us join together in prayer for her family and friends.
I don't know what each of you face today, but face it knowing the power of God is real. God is the only one who can help a broken heart and helps us in new normals. Giving your life to God doesn't mean it will be perfect, but we know we don't walk alone. He puts people in our path for a reason. Be around those to can just listen, encourage and help you think things through at times.
I hope your today is filled with love and knowing God is with you! Each day we face things we love to do and things we are not so happy about in life. Jeremiah 29:11 holds true for each of our lives, a plan, a promise and a future! My prayers continue for you, your family and friends. Never doubt that God is with you.