Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Shield

With all the changes going on, and all that I have been forced to process and wade through involving my father's death, I have found a constant comfort in the Lord. I think that most believers would say "God got me through this" or "God was my strength." But, without experiencing that situation yourself, it is hard to grasp how God literally comes to you in the middle of you feeling your life crumbling and your world shaking around you and giving you a peace "which transcends all understanding."

That chunk of scripture comes from Philippians 4:6-7.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

This is an occurrence in the Bible of an "if-then" statement. "If you do ______, then ____ will happen.

Here is the passage with the obvious "if-then:"

"In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, IF YOU present your requests to God... THEN the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I'm not saying that death doesn't hurt. But, the truth that I can tell you is that from the very first "your dad is in the hospital" call, I had a group of people that I was updating so they could pray. They weren't just praying for my dad, but they were praying for me. When I told them that he had passed away (because, yes, that does happen sometimes even when we pray for healing), they immediately began praying for me. I was praying too, but most of what I was praying came out in one or two words fragments and sobs. These people were praying that I would find comfort in God. They were praying for my family- that we would see Jesus in this. They were praying that I and my brother would be a light in the situation- that people could see the qualities of Jesus in us. (I still pray that too!)

Here's how cool God is:

I always felt God's comfort and peace- from the first phone call. I was confused at one point and had a hard time digesting what was going on (my roommate and a good friend back in Ohio had to tell me, "Stop what you are doing and go pack. This is serious. You don't have time for ______ or ______." I just couldn't process everything), but in the middle of everything I felt God's presence. I felt him surrounding me and loving on me and pulling me close. I felt Him hurting with me, grieving alongside me.

I'm not sure where you stand with the Lord. This is a public blog and anyone can read it. But, what I believe and have experienced is something that I am sure of. Just as sure as I am that the sun exists, or that trees have leaves.

I felt God's shield. I specifically felt Him shielding me with his comfort and peace (those were two things that He made abundantly clear to me). I felt it all the time. I thought that I would crumble into pieces and have to be carried onto the plane that took me home. But, God gave me grace for the moment (and I used His grace to let go a frustrating interaction with one of the ladies at the ticketing counter). I was able to get through each moment knowing God was literally carrying the weight of my heart.

God shielding us from certain things can be backed up in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

K, so this is where people get the "God will not give us more than we can handle" phrase (which at times can be really cliche). But... it is SO very true!

God shielded me from grieving about 90% of the time. I was sad, but there was no weight. Those are the times when I felt His comfort and peace the most- and He spoke to my heart and told me He was shielding me as well.

The other 10% of the time? Well, those were hard. I would literally feel the shield lift as I felt the weight of sorrow and grief and sadness and longing... everything that comes with losing someone that close to you. It would happen while I was talking to a friend, when I sat down to eat breakfast before my flight, in the shower a few days later. It was just a realization: "Oh my gosh. My dad died. He's not alive anymore." Then, I feel the weight of what all that meant. Then I would cry. Then, I would feel the weight of all of that lifted as God stepped in to comfort me in the middle of it.

Seem nuts? I would have called it that too. Now, it is amazing-crazy-beautiful-wonderful-awful. God is doing what He said He would. I give this to Him in "prayer and petition, with thanksgiving" and He gives me peace that I understand. He doesn't let me carry the weight of something I cannot handle. He knows me well enough to know that I need to process all of this in little spurts. A good cry one day, happy memories the next, sorrow and grief the following day.

I'm not sure how long I will grieve my father. I think that I will just live life and miss him sometimes. Like, when my kids ask about their grandfather that they never met. The day I get married, when I walk myself down the isle. The day I look at my brother and see so much of my father in his face. When I look at old picture, the flowers from his funeral, the (manymanymany) flashlights he gave me for (every) Christmas... all of these will carry a reminder of his life. Then I will be a little sad.

But, I will probably also laugh. Because there were some hilarious times before he passed. Some good memories. Those, I will hold onto.

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