The day my dad’s body was placed in the ground something shifted in my soul. Words fail in describing something unseen, but it hasn’t left me. My dad’s death would cause pain and cause life.
The shift is not something I can name but I still search it out. If you’ve lost someone close to you, maybe you can relate.
What I’m learning is, pain would like to tip the scales and paralyze us.
The sad, sad reality is, that for some, pain is winning. This is not what our loved ones would want for us.
I told my friend Debbie that as waves of pain keep coming, they are being overtaken by a bigger wave that leaves me in awe of new life. I suppose in some form, it’s reflective of death and resurrection. For a seed to die, is for a seed to come back to life bearing fruit.
Shorty after my dad came home from the hospital a dear friend of mine from China came to visit. As we were talking she stopped and stared at me for an uneasily long time. She then said,
“Kandace, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Your dad’s death is going to produce beautiful fruit in your life.”
That friend is currently in India speaking at a women’s conference and though younger than I, a voice I listen to.
I have a desire to invite people into the places I would go when witnessing my dad prepare for eternity. Part of that desire comes from not wanting to be alone. When I hear from others who have been there, my heart feels hugged. But the other part is my hope that when some of you find yourself in those spaces, you will be assured that God will draw near… and you can actually expect Him to because He already told you He would. He will do that in a myriad of ways.
There were many late nights when I was caring for my dad that God whispered tender mercies to my heart right in the midst of a wrestling match with Him. If you could picture it, He had hold of one of my dad’s arms and and I was holding the other, begging Him not to take him away from me. When I would let go of my dad’s arm peace would come.
I was to keep my eyes wide-open to the reality of losing my dad and also being okay. My dad often told me I would be okay and though I have been, I have also leaned into Jesus harder than I ever have.
I found a gem of a scripture last week that jumped off the page when I consider what’s at stake if I allow waves of sadness to overtake me. I’d read this verse before because it’s one of my favorite stories in the Bible, but a verse I would normally skim over, felt like Jesus saying, “Listen.”
“When Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, heard that Amber had died at Hebron, his courage failed, and all Israel was dismayed 2 Samuel 4:1, ESV).
I listened and asked questions.
“What did it mean for my courage to fail in light of my dad’s death, Jesus?”
Without sounding too nonsensical, Jesus really is my best friend. I can’t fathom life without Him. A life of inner communion with Him as my friend has saved my life in every sense of the word. Though I have put my fingers in my ears when what He was saying was not what I wanted to hear, I’ve always known my path of self-will is not a good thing…and I would regret whatever it was I thought I wanted or needed when it wasn’t for my long-term good.
That Jesus calls us friends does something beyond our need to obey to prove we love Him.
I’m learning things about friendship that has added a sweetness to this life I’ve never known. When my primary view of Jesus was a King to obey, I could be motivated to obey to avoid consequences…but as my primary view and understanding of Jesus shifted to “I know longer call you servants but friends,” my motivation to follow Him has grown into a deeper love of not wanting to hurt my Friend.
The beauty of this transformation carries over into all my relationships. If I don’t want to hurt my friends because I love them, the more I know them, the less likely I will hurt them. Of course, I will not be perfect in that and neither will you, but friendship means, “as long as it depends on me, I want peace.”
We all know that even in close earthly friendships, we struggle. My best friend and I still struggle. She questions me at times and I question her. We question because we see something the other can’t see and love means we talk it through. We have invited one other in these blind spots knowing we will fail.
Our hope doesn’t come from us thinking we will always get it right but that we both have a deeper security in our relationship with Jesus, who loves us both and will help us be imperfect, but purposeful friends.
The only difference between closeness with humans and closeness with Jesus is, Jesus sees all things perfectly. He never struggles with looking at His own motives. He has no speck in His eye before He tells us about the log in our own. His motives are perfect love and He only desires to see us whole and free. He’s never jealous, never insecure and never spends time questioning why He wants us to see a truth.
Jesus’s motives in telling us to care for one another, as imperfect human-beings, also comes from His perfect love for us. The humility it requires to lay ourselves open to others we know and trust, also knowing they are not perfect, means we serve knowing we will get hurt.
I hate getting hurt, just like you.
There are certain kinds of hurt that demand distance and space, but there’s also hurt that leads us to deeper healing. Until Jesus comes, there’s always more healing and freedom. When we’re all on the same page of truly understanding this, grace and mercy wins.
Friendship with Jesus stirs my heart.
It means when I am reading a passage in the Bible and I hear His Spirit say, “Listen,” I listen. My Friend wants me to go deeper in the text because He loves me and there’s a truth He wants to reveal to me.
Sometimes Jesus reveals something to me and I take it before my close friends who can listen with me AND sometimes my close friends share something first and I take it to Jesus for greater understanding.
We have nothing to lose when we listen with a heart to understand, from both Jesus and our friends.
My courage to move forward in all Jesus has put in my heart to do has taken a hit since my dad’s death. I confessed to a friend yesterday that some waves can make me question what the heck I’m doing…however, in the questioning, I continue to reach out my hurting arm for the strong right arm of the One who has secured my victory! He’s secured yours too.
Let’s reach out together and move forward, especially when waves seek to take us under. I am confident our Friend Jesus wants to ride these waves with us, taking us further into the glorious things He has planned.
“The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph. The strong right of the Lord has done glorious things (Psalm 118:16, NLT).