C.S. Lewis wrote: "Pain is God's megaphone. He whispers to us in our joy, but shouts to us in our pain." I've experienced this over and over throughout my lifetime, but none so much as in recent days.
Life is a series of preparations, or "schooling" if you will, for something that is ahead of us. My reflections during the past two weeks have reminded me: I've been prepared for what I am going through right now. From the day my daughter died on July 4th, until now, I have reflected at how he prepared me for this, and also her for her homecoming.
When I was in Bible College as a 19-to-21-year-old girl, I cleaned houses to earn money. Almost every single family home I cleaned on a regular basis had lost a daughter through death. I remember thinking, "someday, I will lose a daughter and need this preparation." I had forgotten that until last week while in the shower. I asked our lord, "I understand you used those experience of cleaning the homes of grieving parents, but I'm not sure of the lesson in it."
The answer was clear: to teach you how not to grieve. You see, one family in particular, had allowed grief to swallow them up. They allowed it to paralyze them as they never moved on. It had been years since their beautiful 22-year-old dark haired daughter had died in an automobile accident, yet they kept her room exactly as she had left it, and I was not allowed in that room. They went to bed during the day often because of their grief. They could not talk of her nor answer any questions. It was a hush/hush environment that I observed, and was quickly told that she was in heaven and how she gone. Instead of allowing grief to draw them to God, bitterness had set in ... guilt had overtaken them (the dad was driving the car), and they were rendered silent and still. Grief can do that quite easily if we allow it. Grief is supposed to be our friend to help embrace the pain, move through the stages and back into life. It is certain that life will be a "new normal" for us. The old normal is gone, but a new normal awaits as we embrace grief as our friend and allow God to heal our hearts and bind up our wounds.
I also cleaned for several others who grieved in various ways, but the strange thing is, I cannot remember cleaning for anyone who had not lost a child through death. See, God was preparing me for this.
Last year alone, I did more grief counseling for parents who had lost a child than ever before. There was a continual request from parents grieving the loss of a child. I knew, but I squelched the thought ... every parent's worst fear. It has been touching to receive cards, letters and phone calls from some of those very parents I counseled, now helping me. Isn't that what we do in life? You help me, then I help you, and on and on?
My daily conversations with my daughter also showed that God was preparing her to go to heaven. Her desire to go to heaven was extreme over the past years. She had joy, was not at all suicidal, but the intensity of her desire to see and touch God was beyond anything I've heard. Recently, she asked me: "Do you really not just want to see Jesus face to face and be in heaven?" I answered, that, "Yes, I am ready to go, but no, I did not have that kind of yearning to go."
Last year at this time, we were readying her to go to Liberty University to finish graduate school. She had the goal of receiving her master's degree, and had begun working for Strategic Therapy, an intervention facility for troubled youth. She loved her work and delighted in her children. She was at the "top of her game," so to speak, as far as having her heart's desire in ministry. Yet, on Sept. 15, 2010, she wrote in her journal: "Lord, I want to be the little child clinging to Daddy (Abba's) leg crying 'I want to stay with you! I only want to be where my Abba (God) is!'" She continued, "'I told God a few days ago that I want to be the kid who he can trust. Jesus, I want to be closer to you than I've ever been in my life! I don't want to be an arm away, or where you have to reach for me, I want to hold your arm and hand. I want to see your smile. I want to give you all of me ... enable me to give you my all, because even that comes from you! All my love and life, Kristin.'"
You see, God was preparing her for heaven. Jim Eliott, missionary martyr to the Auca Indians in Ecuador, wrote: "God is peopling heaven. We must not restrict him to old people."
God's plan throughout my life and yours is to prepare us for the next leg of the journey while using us right where we are now. As I sit here, I stopped typing for a moment and the tears began to form. I thought, "What else can I say to bring this truth of God preparing us for what he has for us?" My eyes fell upon Kristin's journal, dated 9/20/2010 and I wept. She wrote: "I read again the quote by the man in Rwanda who was so sold out for Christ that he died his faith. But not just his faith, but his savior! I wonder what is going through their minds when they're being killed? Are they seeing the face of God? The smile of the son? The joy that 'weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning?' I know you give dying grace to the dying and I'm sure this is doubled exceedingly when people are dying for you! It just makes me realize how frail I am." She continues: "As I was writing this I was feeling down on myself and the lord spoke to my heart, 'Remember Peter.' Blessed Peter! Who God was able to use to do such amazing and awesome things, in spite of himself! I'm asking you to please do the same thing in my life, my precious Abba! Jesus, I want to snuggle up so close to you! I want to not just hold your hand, but be held in your arms and just lay my head on your chest. Hold me Jesus! Help you to live and shine completely through me. Help others to just see you and hear you in my life! Please take care of my family. All my love and life, Kristin"
Need I say more? God prepares us for the road ahead of us until he calls us home. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a home-school mom and a counselor with Cornerstone Christian Ministries. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)