Well, I've been in my dorm for one whole night!! And tonight, I decided I was ready to hear Dad's voice, a piece of wisdom straight from his mouth as I look at the days and weeks and months ahead.
After the accident, things changed. Some of the obvious ones were our living situation and simply not having Mom and Dad here. But things changed inside, too. I suppose it's natural, but I don't like most of the changes I've seen. Sometimes I feel so hard-hearted and like I don't even care about people anymore. That's not true, but it seems more often than not, I shut out the bad news cuz I just can't take any more. And I've done an awful job at having regular quiet time--something Mom and Dad stressed and I have come to value over the years. Yet in the midst of my biggest trial, regular devotions just weren't a part of the picture.
So recently, I decided it's time to give up and fight, all at the same time. I've got to give it to God, and I've got to give Satan the fight of his oh-so-pathetic life. No more letting him tear me apart and have the upper hand.
Anyway, I went onto our church website where you can listen to the services and was amazed to see that Dad's last sermon was titled, "Prepared to Fight." My heart was grabbed, and I clicked play, ready to hear Dad's voice.
Instead, I heard my own.
I heard myself reading from James 1:17 about how "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." And then I went on. "This morning I want to encourage you guys to let yourself be amazed by God, to remember that every good thing does come from Him. And even if it feels like your life is crashing down, and like every good thing you have has been stripped away, you can rest in the fact that God does not change. He will always be faithful. And that is a very.good.thing."
That was one day short of exactly two weeks before the accident. And part of the week between those milestones, Mom and Dad were away at a conference. I didn't realize how much I would have to be practicing what I had just preached.
Life went from being beyond easy to presenting a challenge bigger than I ever thought I'd have to face. But. God is indeed faithful. He has provided for us financially and given us friends and family to support us emotionally. He has given me His Word. (when i actually read it...) It sustains me and encourages my weary heart. It challenges me and makes me want to be better for Him.
As Dad went on in his sermon, he talked about the battles we will fight as Christians. No matter how peaceful we may wish to be, Satan has other ideas. The question is not whether we will find ourselves in a spiritual battle, but rather if we will be prepared for it or not. Dad always stressed the power and authority that the bible has and reminded us that, "He will indeed inspire us with His Word."
I didn't make it through the whole sermon, but one of the questions he asked really stood out to me.
"How do we begin to rebuild after life has fallen apart?" There are so many days I wish he was here to tell me where to begin with the mess before me. But as I sit and wonder, remembering who Dad was and the Truth he stood for and preached, I know what he would say. He'd get all teary-eyed, hold me close, and kiss the top of my head. And he'd say something along the lines of, "This really stinks, doesn't it?" I'd nod my head, unable to speak around the lump in my throat, and he'd go on, "It's no fun at all. It's one of those times I sure wish I knew what God's up to, but I don't. Hang in there, Colby. God knows what He's doing. He's still God. He's still good. He's still in control. Seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and He'll take care of the rest. ...Doesn't make it any more fun though, does it?" "Nope." That's about all I'd get out, and he'd squeeze me tight, tell me he loves me and how proud of me he is, and then he'd tell me to, "Get some sleep, babes." And everything would be ok for just a while.
I don't have that luxury anymore, but I'm so grateful for the 18 years I was able to spend under his care and guidance! As far as Dad's work goes, I couldn't have been better prepared for the battle I now fight. I was trained to trust, to pray, to seek, to fall apart, and to allow God's healing power to begin its work in my life. I was reminded daily that we are a work in progress. God is alive and working in our lives every.day. He is sovereign and I don't have to have all the answers...that's why He's God, and I'm not.
There are many times when the ache in my heart is still so real, but I must remind myself that it's not the end of my story. It's merely the beginning of another beautiful chapter God intends to write if I'll let Him. So I'm trying. Shifting my focus from all that I'm not to all that He is is a challenge, but it's so worth it!
As a dear friend told me, "We're told all our lives that God is our Rock and Shelter and all that, but we can't know God's comfort if we never experience pain. We can't know His power if we're never weak. We can't know the depth of His grace if we never mess up...Our struggles are what allows us to really see and know God's character."
God is not the Bad Guy. He is everything good and real and lasting that I have left. the only solid thing we have to hold onto during life's worst storms.
All around me, people are crying out in pain, and as God begins to patch my wounded soul, my heart and ears are being reopened to them...depending on the day or even moment, of course. Each time I let God pour into me, I have a little more to pour back out on those I do life with, and I am inspired yet again by His living Word.
"...love one another deeply, from the heart....For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass whithers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
1 Peter 1:22b, 24-25
He is faithful, and that is a very good thing.