Saturday, July 21, 2007

Embraced by Love

July 27, 2006 began as all days do down here in South America. The work was plentiful; the opportunities to share Jesus abounded. At 7 that evening, though, our world changed forever. It was violently shaken; it was suddenly and inexplicably pillaged by man’s greatest enemy: death.

It was a normal day for my oldest daughter and her family, too. My son-in-law went to work, as normal. My daughter was home, caring for their 11-week old baby girl; it was their firstborn, our first grandchild. Michelle put Grace down for a nap sometime in the afternoon. Sometime later she went to check on Grace and found her lying there. She was still. She was not moving. She was not breathing.

Michelle called 911 and the rapid responders came as quickly as possible—within minutes. They transported the baby and mother to the hospital, where all the wonderful doctors and nurses tried with all their might to revive Grace. It was too late.

When Kory called we were stricken; we were numb with pain. It was the most inconceivable thing that we had ever experienced. It was the most painful. It still is some days.

We traveled to the states as quickly as possible. There we mourned and grieved with all who had gathered. The family honored me by asking me to preach Grace’s funeral. I did; but it was only in the strength of the Lord that any of us were able to endure that interminable day.

Almost a year has passed now. We had a choice to make after Grace died. We had to decide how we were going to let her passing affect us. We had to choose to live and let that experience become a growing time for us. Or we could choose to stay there, living in that terrible moment of pain and sorrow, remaining paralyzed and growing bitter. That's what happens when you drink from the same bottle of water for too many days. It grows bitter. It sours.

Someone I spoke with wondered aloud how any of us could move on with life. The answer is easy; and at the same time the answer is complicated. Let me be very honest with you: some days come and I don’t know if I will be able to look at a child without pain in my heart. I have had to turn away with tears in my eyes when I came close to a child Grace’s age. I have had days of pain that I have, right or wrong, hidden from those around me. And I was not the parent of this child; think of them! Think of their pain! I have seen what they write; I have spoken with my daughter. Their pain is intense, even a year later.

How do you get by that?

I find the answer in one verse of Scripture: “And now abide faith, hope and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Co. 13:13

Those three are ever-present companions for me; that is what “abide” means. They are there; the Holy Spirit uses them to carry us through the day. And on some days that is how we make it. One step. One hour. One morning. One afternoon. One night at a time.

We live by the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:20). It’s faith in him, not faith in faith.

We live by the hope—that wonderful expectation--to be reunited with Grace in the presence of Jesus. It's hope based on faith. Otherwise it would be wishful thinking.

We live by the love of the Father through Jesus Christ. He loves us far more deeply than we can ever understand. Someone said something like, "When you can't see his hand, trust his heart."

A friend called me the other day. We were discussing this and other issues on the phone. He reminded me that Satan cannot send anything our way that is not filtered through the love of the Father. Our Father in Heaven loves us. He wants the best for us. He understands our separation in ways that we cannot comprehend. After all, we were separated from him until we were brought to him by the blood and death of Jesus. He was separated from his only son when Jesus died on the cross and bore our sins.

The greatest is love. The other things--faith and hope--are powerful in and of themselves. But without the love of the Father, they have no real meaning.

Now I want to ask a favor of all who read this post. Take a moment and pray for the Kidd family and the Shearer family. It’s going to be a hard week for us. July 27th will be a painful day for us.

Pray that God will prepare us now.
Pray for healing for both families.
Pray each of us will sense he or she is embraced by love.

7 comments:

GuyMuse said...

I remember last year when we first heard the tragic news. We prayed for you guys then, and are praying for you now as you approach the day. You write, "the greatest of these is love..." and this is so true. Alfred Lloyd Tennyson expressed it with these words, "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Thanks, Guy. I am praying for a sense of God's peace to be pervasive in both the Kidds and Shearers.

Rick said...

Kevin,

Thanks for being transparent. I will be praying.

God bless,

RJM

Rick said...

Kevin,

Thanks for being transparent. I will say a special prayer today.

God bless,

RJM

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Thanks for praying, Rick. I appreciate your friendship. Hug your bride and children for us.

startingtoday said...

Kevin - I just came across your blog. I'm kind of on a search for international blogs.. I'm trying to broaden my horizons and learn about different cultures and countries around the world.

I can't honestly say that I'm religious (was raised Catholic), but I'm definately spiritual. Having a small child (3 1/2) myself, reading the story of your Granddaughter was heartbreaking. It sounds like your family is very supportive of one another, and even though it's got to be awfully heartbreaking and difficult to carry on, you have each other.

I don't know you, but my thoughts are with you.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! I am not religious, either! Religion is man's attempt to find God. Being Christian is walking in relationship with God.

There are days that the memory of what happened does make it difficult to carry on. The delight of life is that we have a strength that transcends what some call "inner strength." It's source is from the Life-giver himself.

God Bless You Today,

KDS