I've had a lifetime of unusually difficult moments, one after the other; and yet throughout my 45 years on this Earth, that life has also been intertwined with unusual blessings. In a profound twist of events, the past 24 hours (just before writing this on 5/21/2019) has been a representation of that lifetime. It’s a tale of life, death and everything in between. It’s an example of so many intricacies of how the world and its creator works.
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For the past couple of months, in our “home”, we’ve been interacting with a staff full of people who are challenged by issues outside of their control. This group of people, even though they’ve been stressed and tested, shines brightly with the light of God. I don’t think some of them would agree with me on where that light comes from, but an argument would make no real difference in my point.
Yesterday they put together a care package for my wife, daughter and I that took thought, presence and love. It put a pinpoint of light on the idea that God works and speaks through all of us. It was a needed reminder that there is brightness in the world, even when challenge threatens to darken it.
I found out today that, two days ago, an aunt of mine died (following another death in the family a few weeks ago).
I’m no stranger to death; as I’ve lost many people, some to some pretty unconventional and ugly means. This aunt that I’ve lost, she lost two of her four sons before she left us. One was not just my cousin, but my friend who I’d spent time with outside of family functions. As far as I’m concerned he was a fallen soldier, one who fought for God’s cause. Kev had his rough spots as any like us do, but he was often generous with his friendship, his compassion and his love for others. He taught other people, like me, things like self improvement. When the pain of this life took him from us, I felt a shockwave through my soul that 20-some years later hasn’t yet been settled.
His mother, the aunt that left us a couple of days ago; in the time since the loss of her sons, I’d not heard a word from her about their deaths. But what I know with absolute certainty is that the loss of a son or daughter is far and away unlike any other loss. I don’t know this personally, but I believe it whole-heartedly because of friendships I have with several people who’ve lost children. My aunt was never the same and the spark of her recent death ignited something in me today. I don’t know where it will go, but I know where it’s been so far.
Within minutes of learning of her death, I stepped outside into a semi-private area and started praying. I believe a soul can be stuck, left out of heaven for things like the way my cousin/friend left the world and the guilt his mother must have felt (even though her sons’ deaths were not her fault). Therefore I prayed with tears and as much feeling as I could muster. I asked God that if my aunt and my cousins had spent time in darkness, that they now feel the joy and light of being united again.
This has left me with some confusion and has dug up some old feelings about losing my cousin, the one who was also my friend. It reminded me of the tremendous pain my aunt must have carried with her in the decades since her first loss; along side of the pain of the second one. It saddened me so much to think of someone I love, someone who loves me, being in that much pain. I’d also been reminded of the pain of losing my friend and cousin, and the pain he was in that took his life away.
Why is this important?
Today’s whirlwind was spun up by a phone call about that bad news. So here I am now; I’m laying in bed feeling slammed. And yet something has changed between the last round of deaths I’d gone through and now. Previously, The Holy Trinity were not on my list of priorities or even realities. So when a tornado would build around me; I’d be spun wildly, pulled up and repeatedly struck. I’d get tossed and battered around amongst the surrounding debris. But this time it’s almost entirely different.
I still feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. My wife, Grace, has taken over and commanded me into bed. She says I look grey. I’m saddened and I feel loss. My body, mind and heart have taken a blow and I’ve fought to keep dry eyes at different times throughout today. But, strangely, somehow my spirit is flying.
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In my mind, I envision myself standing on a patch of dirt with arms raised, hands pointed at the sky. Around me is a tornado; layer after layer of multi-toned, brown, spinning lines. Embedded in them are hunks of all kinds of things, but those things are not just sharp, dangerous, lifeless objects. They are also the blessings I have, the prayers I say for everyone else each day and the signs I see that God is on our side. In my heart is sadness. On my face are eyes looking upward; surrounded by a smirk, one that speaks volumes about how proud I am of my Heavenly Father. I smile when I think of asking God to help my aunt and cousins, as if to say with confidence: “I know what happens when I pray.”
In my personal tornado are the standard dangers. But more importantly to my spiritual future; there are things like beautiful gestures made by people in our lives, the many rainbows we regularly see and clear answers to prayers I’ve made.
The point of sharing the last 24 hours
This message is not a plea for sympathy. I already have that from God and his team which leaves me with no more need for it from anyone else. This message is intended as a gift; an offer to help bring relief and help plant seeds of discernment. It's an illustration of clarity brought by God; a display of how pieces within circles of events can fit snugly and efficiently, glued together by the love of The Holy Trinity. I shared this because we all have our personal tornados. The trick is to stop fighting them, get down to the ground, plant our feet on The Rock and start looking up.
If we can start to see through the top of the cone; to fix eyes on that Holy Trinity, then suddenly everywhere else we look will no longer just show the damage and potential dangers that wildly spin around us.
Put God first and everything else will fall in line. See God first and everything else will become clear. There’s nothing to lose except the blindness that’s thrown between us and the layers of blessings and love we’re given. There’s everything to gain, including the ability to stand strong and grateful in the storm.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:33 KJV
Turmoil, like the loss of a loved one is no exception. It’s not just a comfort to know God is there to take care of what is too much for me, it’s a necessary and a welcome relief. And the deeper I get into Christianity, the more hardship I can let go and let God take care of. It leaves me more free to find, absorb and appreciate what rare joy and comforts are still in this world.
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you..." Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:28-30 KJV
I can share more on this subject
Articles mentioned above
Putting God First - The Pain of Arm's Length (Part 1/2) - It wasn’t just God that hurt from the disconnect between us, it was also me.
A Struggle to see the Face of God - I see the face of the enemy everywhere. But I'm worried about not really knowing God's face.
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Sing From the Center of the Prison - When I say we can find joy and purpose in a world full of waking nightmares, you' ll know I've seen my share of hardship, my share of difficult self improvement ...
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