Thursday, August 25, 2011

Be Strong

This morning I couldn’t sleep and as I lay alone in bed praying for the safety of my husband in South Africa and my children at work I also began to meditate on the events of the past weeks. As the thoughts went through my mind I decided to get up and write; hence the following.
Several years ago I had a break down or what I would rather refer to as a breaking down. The Lord saw fit in His great mercy to deal with me in an extreme way. I was running, running, running and although I thought I was using all my energy in His kingdom, my priorities were a bit mixed up. Being a strong person myself the Lord had to use strong means to teach me the way He wanted me to walk. Not only was my physical strength totally taken from me but in God’s all wise providence He saw fit that I would go through great temptations. These were not small temptations but temptations like I never knew were possible nor would I ever share them on a blog. There were times when I would literally go alone and cry out to the Lord to take them away and would continue praying and crying aloud until they passed. Going through deep temptations has literally left me feeling at times like a ragdoll after they passed. It was during this time that one evening while listening to a sermon at home on a Sunday night the words from Hebrews 13:5 were greatly applied to me….”I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” I felt so much comfort and strength from those words…I remember that I was going to the bathroom and I just stopped and leaned against the doorpost totally broken and overcome. The next morning I shared this with my husband who asked me if I had read the rest of the verse (which I hadn’t) but says….”Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”  So here I was a weak broken person and I needed to be content with the way I was....seemingly impossible and yet commanded.
That was several years ago. But to my amazement once again these words have come back to me. During the last several weeks the trials have been very great and I would spend much of my day silently crying out for help. One morning I read from Joshua 1 where the Lord says to Joshua…I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” In reading the context of these words the Lord commands Joshua to “be strong and of a good courage”….and in another place “only be thou strong and very courageous.”  Again these words were a great encouragement for me and often through these last weeks I have read Joshua 1 and meditated on it praying for strength to be strong and pleading on these promises. I see more and more that the ups and downs of my life need not toss me like a rag doll. Even in the illness and death of my Dad…the boys’ accident…my husband being gone for two weeks…all these things and the things that I will face in my life are in the Lord’s hand and I must follow behind trusting Him for all things.
And now as I stand back and look at my life I see a seemingly great irony and yet it shouldn’t be surprising at all for it’s the Lord’s way of working. First I needed to be broken…not just a little arm or leg break so to speak, but complete breaking. And now while hobbling along it seems that the Lord is staying, “be strong” and yet it is a different strong. This is a strong that is not strong in self but only a  strength that is found in Him. I know that I will never be the person I was…that strength will never be back, but now it’s a weakness in self, an ever learning to be content with it, and a dependence on Him for strength as one who has a broken leg depends on their crutch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

When the Tears Stop

Ecclesiastes says there is a time to be born and a time to die….a time for rejoicing and a time for weeping. Indeed death has come and though the visible weeping has ended there remains in my heart a dull ache…a missing and a great longing to have my dear father back again. What began as a short trip to see him once more turned into 3 weeks away from home.
How on a public blog does one explain the events of the last 3 weeks of one’s life especially that of one’s father?
How does one explain what it was like to have him ask me to stay to help care for him?
How does one explain what it was like to gently rub his head to calm his anxious feelings when he had so much trouble breathing? 
How does one explain the helplessness we felt when he would get bursts of intense pain?
How does one explain the day that he asked me to feed him because he couldn’t lift his own hand to his mouth anymore…to hold his cup for him and place his pills in his mouth and the look of love at times he gave during these times?
How does one fully express the thoughts that went through the mind day by day while holding his hand as life of this dear one began to fade more and more?
How does one explain the joy and love in the depth of the heart to be able to care for him during his last weeks?
How does one explain and hide away in one’s heart when a few days before he died he was given strength to address his children for several minutes urging them to, “seek the Lord first,” and to hear him say that God is a merciful God and to hear him express the burden that was on his heart for the souls of his many children and grandchildren?
How does one explain the almost panic that was in the heart when no food or drink could go down his throat anymore without him choking and the fear of being the one to choke him?
How does one explain the desire to forever etch in the mind those tender moments of that  day when kneeling alone beside his bed holding both of his hands in mine he put up his hand and so gently rubbed my face and for the first and last time in his life as he looked in my eyes these words were so gently and lovingly spoken, “Donna, I love you!” How can one explain to another, what these words meant…being the only time they were ever spoken?
How does one fully comprehend and explain what it was like for him with tears in his eyes to ask “who will take care of mother?”
How can one explain the fear that was in his heart when he asked what would happen if his children would leave him?
How does one explain the thoughts of a mother when prayer was made in church for the lonely and widows and he heard it on the church phone and squeezed her hand although he couldn’t speak?
How does one explain the thoughts of the heart when a few hours before he died he (although fully conscious) could no longer speak and as all his children and some grandchildren were gathered around his bed and sang Psalter 114 to him he still tried to mouth the words and make sound come out?
How does one explain the thoughts…the helplessness…the fear…the sorrow that went through the mind when this man who was your father…the pillar of your home, struggled for over 3 hours for every breath as you held his hand and then the final breath was taken and he was gone…..?
How does one explain how empty his death makes one feel?
How does one explain the question which begs to be asked….who will be next?
As I write this I am reminded that as husband and wife we have lost an unborn child at 16 weeks, each of us has lost a brother and each of us our father. We have witnessed in our life the loss of the very young, the strong and healthy and the old….are we prepared for the day when someone may have to write these very words about us?