Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Making Sense

It was over 25 years ago, during a time of intense upheaval in my life, that Psalm 27:13 became my lifeline.  I clung to its promise with a tenacious grip of faith even though my circumstances shouted a lie to the contrary.  Just this week I read the Psalm again and that same verse rang with a new slant to it.  "I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."  (Psa. 27:13)  The land of the living . . . the land of the living.   

I wasn't going to write about this again, the death of my sister-in-law, but here I am, a broken record.  I thought I was over it and moving on with life.  Yet it remains close to the surface, popping up here and there in unexpected places.  I've been disoriented since I've been back home, trying to keep up with responsibilities and rushing like a roller coaster towards one of the busiest months of the year for our family.

But as I read the verse mentioned above I could not help but remember the faithfulness of God in the past to indeed show us His goodness in the land of the living.  Sure, I know Sheri is with Jesus and that she lives, but we are still here.  I know God is good in the land of the "dead", who actually aren't really dead, but very much alive . . . the land of heaven.  Yet here, in this land of the living, in the lives of us left behind, in this day and the days ahead, I once again cling to the promise that we will see the goodness of the Lord. . . somehow, someway, we will see it because He has promised we will.

The upheaval which came upon our family many years ago resulted in a move halfway across the country.  And it also included my youngest brother Jasper, (Sheri's husband).  As we set out to travel away from my childhood home, I still remember my Dad driving the family renowned rickety blue van packed with all our belongings.  Jasper rode shotgun beside him with our black lab in his lap, the one friend he could take with him, trying to hold back the tears as he buried them in the fur of that dog.  I rode with my Mom in the car, supporting the plants draped over my lap, shocked because I don't ever remember seeing my little brother cry before.  Perhaps that is why it is etched so deeply on my memory. 

We camped in the Blue Mountains that night, the same mountains which recently provided us with a dark snow storm on our way to his wife's funeral.  And I couldn't help but remember the darkness of those days behind us years ago.  I remember crying out to God in the privacy of my heart, tears streaming down my face, "What on earth are You thinking, God?  How could any good come of this situation?  Your name has been dragged in the dirt.  How could You have allowed this to happen?"  Our hearts were hurt, but I wonder if the wound of that day did not prepare my little brother, a tiny bit at least, for the pain of this day.  

It was in my fourth year of Bible college that my class was given the assignment to write a paper on the very source of my upheaval.  I expressed my predicament with the professor who fully understood my situation and so gave me an alternate subject.  However, he still encouraged me to write on the assigned topic as he thought it would help me to heal.  I chose the healing route and wrote the paper, ending it with a verse of triumph, "I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."  (Psa. 27:13)  Through the writing of that paper God worked forgiveness in my heart like never before and 'took the sword out of my hand'.  Indeed, I had seen the goodness of the Lord!  (And I got an A++ on the paper by the way)  But that was not to be the end of it.

After graduation I went home to a place that didn't seem like home (because I hadn't grown up there), where God provided a job opportunity which led me to a gift.  It was a gift I may not have found had our family not gone through such turmoil resulting in a move.  That gift was my husband.  His name means "peace, complete, whole, or rest" . . . Jeff, who has been instrumental in drawing me into the immeasurable grace of God, in a place where I could realize it . . . see it.  God has proven faithful in the past and I know He will do the same for us today.  By faith I will not despair, but rather believe that we will see God's goodness in fullest measure.

I hurt for my brother, but know God will not let him fall by the wayside.  He will do great things through him, for "the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully committed to Him." (D.L. Moody)  Joy does comes in the morning, just in time, but sometimes . . . the night is beautiful.

"He will conceal me...when troubles come;
He will hide me in His sanctuary. 
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.  
Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me. 
At His sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the LORD with music."
Psalm 27:5,6

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