Our VBS started last Monday, one week ago today. It feels like a lifetime ago.
Tuesday evening, following a great night with the VBS kiddos, our newly married son, Jon, and his beautiful bride, Stephanie, went home. Within 10 minutes of Dave and I arriving at our home, Jon called. “Dad, I need you. Our house is on fire.”
The pit that formed in my stomach is still indescribable. I can’t form the words so let’s just leave it as heavy and deep.
To arrive at their home and watch fire hoses spray through what Jon and Steph had arranged and fashioned as their home for the last two months was heart-breaking.
They are safe.
Some would say, “That’s what really matters.” That statement is true and I am grateful for the protection of God and the quick action of both Jon and Steph to make decisions quickly and effectively. Their strength and fortitude in those first moments of action speak to another blessing of grace.
The morning light revealed the damage and loss.
Through these last few days, God’s grace and strength have carried us. The prayers of friends and family have lifted us. The acts of meals, cleaning, laundry, hauling out debris and stepping up in the realm of VBS encouraged our hearts and enabled us to keep going.
Some have said to me, “You are so strong to keep going with VBS. To do all that you are doing is amazing!” And my honest answer back is, “I am not strong.”
Through many moments, I am weak. My mama tears have poured out over and over.
I am weak BUT MY GOD… HE is strong! He enables our feet to stand and take that next step when our physical self wants to crumble and collapse.
Again and again, when I have believed another step is not possible. He holds me. In this last week, I have been a bundle of sobbing, ugly tears many times over. And God is good with that. He is not put off or disgusted by our ugly cries. He holds us in our moments of hard and difficult. He cradles us in his hands and safely holds our broken pieces.
This morning, after weighing another disappointment, Dave added, “It’s been a strange year.”
There’s a lot of truth to that. Together we have faced some difficult paths and battled encounters I didn’t see at the beginning of this year. Which brought our morning conversation around to my chosen word for the year: WELCOME. – to greet the arrival of with pleasure or kindly courtesy; to receive or accept with pleasure; regard as pleasant or good. To welcome a change.
I’m not advocating welcoming tragedy with open arms. That’s nuts and an unhealthy mindset in ignoring the loss and grief tragedy brings. Yet as I reread through the words I wrote just 7 months ago…
I have control over more than I give myself credit for. I have control over my attitude. I have control over where I allow my thoughts to linger. I have control over my actions and the words I speak. I have more resilience and fortitude within myself than I realized.WELCOMING THIS NEW YEAR
I marvel at the forethought of God and His way of preparing us for our unknown road ahead. In my reading time this morning, God drove the point home again.
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord, my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.Psalm 13:2-6 (NIV)
In the midst of tragedy, we will not let the enemy overcome us. Yes, there are times of sadness and grief over the loss of what was, but we don’t stay there because in the midst of it all there is much to be grateful for.
- The safety of our children
- the provision and protection of our Father
- the kindness and generosity of others.
- prayers from family and friends who are walking with us
Do I welcome this tragedy? No, and definitely not with open arms.
I do however, welcome the grace, strength and assuredness of God’s Presence with us. I welcome the salve smoothed over our weary selves from soul-giving individuals.
The morning after the fire, I cried ugly tears in the corner of my kitchen. Dave held me as I sobbed. He whispered, “We are strong. We are going to make it!” And through my sobs, I cried, “I don’t want to be strong.”
And wisely, again Dave whispered, “You don’t have to be. I’m not asking you to be now. But we will make it. God will bring us through.”
And that’s the truth of it.
Tragedy, loss, and grief are all ugly hard. There are moments of gushing tears and crippling sobs on the floor. But we rise again. We stand again because we will not be overcome. We trust in the unfailing love of our faithful and forever enduring Father.
Through our cleaning, salvaging and airing out process from the fire, these wall hangings from Jon and Steph’s living room keep reminding me that where they are is not the end but an unexpected, unanticipated sharp turn in the road. There are far better roads, look-out points and breath-taking views ahead in this marriage journey of theirs.
They will endure. They are strong. God is strong and He is strong within them. He will not fail them. Love Never Fails.