Friday, August 9, 2013

Without Fault

To Him who is able to keep you from falling
and to present you before his glorious presence
without fault and with great joy.
Jude :24

I've been sicker than a dog all week. Another splendid side of grief I am finding. Even two and a half years later my body's resolve to fight anything other than the constant barrage of spiritual and emotional attacks is low. Illness strikes with a vengeance and sends me to bed, or the doctors office, more often than ever, revealing yet again another result of the curse of so long ago. Being in bed, feverish and hacking away, leaves the household to go awry. I made an attempt to rule from under the three quilts I was huddled under, but it just wasn't the same.

At the low points seems to be when God moves. The weakness that the apostle Paul so often talked about is where glory shines the brightest through our lives. I hate that weakness. I hate the face-to-face honesty that is found in it. Total dependence on something outside of myself. The tears flow too freely as well as the first ammunition of protection: anger. Stupid this and stupid that, until I only have God left to accuse. Stuffing is the wadding over the cannon ball that eventually ends up exploding, so I try to balance it all. But then there are the tears; too many tears. The headache kind of tears, the smearing all over your face and sopping wet t-shirt kind of tears. It's unbelievable where they all come from and what simple things they come over.

I said goodnight to Rob last night. He looked at me strange. "What did you say?" he asked. Just goodnight. "I thought you said 'Goodnight Trent.'" The look, after twenty-four years, after two years, the look before the tears. I remind myself that eternity is going to be a long time. I pray for all of my children, for all those God has given me to love, that they would be there. That they are those who have been called and loved by God, that they have this testimony in their hearts.

Sin weighs heavy in these weak moments as well. It blares its resounding siren in my soul, reminding me of the depth of depravity that I am capable of. Revealing the expanse between sinful me and a perfect, holy, glorious God. An expanse so wide that one slip may be all it takes to turn that love into eternal separation. How I wander so easily from the promises I am not sure. Fear maybe, or too many voices echoing over the years. A healthy respect of a glorious God who isn't kidding, perhaps.

"To Him who is able...."

The words penetrate the pain. "To Him who is able." My eyes have been looking the wrong way again. This is not a performance test. This is not about me. None of it. It is about revealing God. Revealing Him who is able, Jesus Christ.

In this weakness God's word has gone forth. I have noted since the beginning of this grief journey that when the word of God, especially the gospel, is being poured out is when the attacks seem to hit the hardest. I should not be blindsided by the connection anymore, but I still am. Trent's story, or rather, God's story of Trent's life, has been shared umpteen times these past couple of weeks in various ways. As a mother, as a vessel of God, as a spokesman for His gospel, I press on to share it with as many as possible. God makes it too easy sometimes. As I wallow in my pity party in bed, He is doing glorious things through words that He ordained to be wrote many months ago.

He is able. Yes, Jesus is able.

The next part of the verse, "able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy" covers every false whisper of the enemy. I just finished reading in 1 John 2:1b-2a, "But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins." The combination throws a powerful punch. Combined with John's encouragement that belief in Jesus Christ promises the reality of eternal life brought more tears. Always tears these days.

Tears over the washing of my own sins that I have no excuse for before a holy God, but more so, tears to realize that Trent has been presented before the glorious presence of God, escorted by Jesus Himself. Brought before Him without fault and with great joy.

A few months after Trent's accident the thought terrorized me that when we die we immediately face judgment, not the refining fire of judgment of our works that Paul describes in First Corinthians 3:12-15, but the salvation judgment of Hebrews 9:27 where we stand before God face to face to give account as to what we did with the testimony of His Son, Jesus Christ. I long for a glimpse into this eternal realm where sins are as if they never were, where justice comes through scarred hands, where the Savior died for His very creation. To understand glory. To look upon it, unblemished. Ushered into the very courtroom of God with great joy. The thought of my son having walked that walk overwhelms me.

The pressure seems to continue that it's time to get over with grieving. But I never want to get over longing to be where my son is, longing for heaven, longing to be where there is no fault, no sin, no fear. The privilege of being given this suffering is to be able to share the hope of the Savior who made the promises. I battle to hold on to it above anything else in this world that so easily consumes. I strive to keep my eyes heavenward. To live seeing eternity as a reality, not a distant possibility.

The illness, the pain, the weakness, the intense grief of a mother's breaking heart are the necessary requirements for revealing the facade of what surrounds us. They all point toward what really matters: eternity. Eternity and where we will be found before this glorious God when we arrive there.
To the only God our Savior be glory,
majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
before all ages now and forevermore!
Jude :25

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

To Beat a Dead Horse

Victory. Today I had a taste of it. The relief of immense pain, a glimpse of the hope to come, laughter and smiles. I wake up now and my immediate thought is no longer that Trent is in heaven. My immediate thought lately has been "why is that bird singing at 5:45 a.m. again?" At night I make the choice between sweltering hot or a morning solo, shutting out the cool breeze or leaving the window open. Most nights I've chosen the heat. After a couple of swipes at the snooze button I realize I am awake and thinking about the events of the day: kids to get on that big yellow school bus, chores that need to be done, which rows need to be weeded in the garden....

I realized tonight that I wrote those words over a month ago. Then I realized that it's been nearly as long since I've written anything authentic. Stuffing has been the menu choice of the emotions as of late. I am feeling worn-out in this grief journey by other people's opinions. Or, rather, my opinions of what I think other people's opinions are. I can't stomach the game of small talk anymore. To bring up your dead son, or not bring it up, is exhausting. And I'm just plain tired of processing this. Tired of it all, actually. Of always hurting. Of always trying to theologically sort everything. Always defending. So I've just kind of shut down.

And attempted to go through the motions of living.

I literally look up every once in a while and force myself to remember Trent's presence in our home. I hate it that I can hardly conjure it up. Where he sat- the seat is not so empty anymore. Seeing him lying on the living room floor in his sleeping bag for movie night. The open wall where the bunk bed used to be. The hand on my back. Him asking for Mom. Kickboxing. Smiling. Kissing and popping noises. That giggle that always made you laugh with him.

That's why I stuff. If I don't, the avalanche of tears begin. Instead, I steadfastly resolve to wait for eternity. When I look around, I go insane. I am tired of reading theological fluff of people who have never suffered. The actresses rendition of Corrie TenBoom tonight in the Hiding Place movie spoke my heart. I hate this, too. Please, Jesus, please carry this when I can't.

Those pictures. I forced my children to smile. Literally forced them. It cost them an extra weeks worth of chores plus cleaning out the barn. Their rebellion for not wanting to take pictures without their brother either. One obedient child, who's heart showed even as she plastered on the smile, broke down afterward. Sometimes this feels like too much. Too much to ask of a mother.

The lies are so subtle: this isn't worth it, there is only the bottomless pit of the pain that the hand of God won't reach so far or stretch so wide or hold so much. Give in. Let go. Quit yapping about all this Jesus stuff.

If I would only run to Him.

And quit fearing man.

Clenching to the Word. Waiting patiently. Loving the promises instead of doubting them.

Satan likes to mock Christ's saints. I see him dancing around Jesus in the gospels, tempting, taunting, so alluring.

Back to the word. Back to the truth. Standing solid.

One day every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. One day it will be made right. One day eternity will begin.

I'm not remembering that victory of a month ago tonight. God has been teaching me weakness instead. Showing me a taste of just how weak I am. Making it all be by only His strength. Pitifully, I still fight. Wanting to be the strong one, strong enough to endure anything. Stubborn and bullheaded, instead of submissive and patient. My head is about bloodied beyond recognition for how many times I've beat it against His sovereignty.

He holds me in the end. When I quit thrashing. He is there. Bottling every tear. Calming His child. Pointing me again to what matters: Jesus. Only Jesus