Grief

Old friend called yesterday.  It had been a while.

“I’m calling to ask you to pray,” she began.  “I’ve just had a bombshell dropped in my lap.”

Like you would do, I’m sure, my mind started racing at the possibilities.  Family?  Finances?  Health?  It could be anything.

I won’t tell you what hers was, but it really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that she was handed some bad news she didn’t see coming.

Kabloom!

What matters more is that she was really making some progress in some areas of her life, and this jeopardizes all that.

Kabloom again!

And what matters to you is that next time it could be you.

Have you ever noticed that when you start moving in a positive direction, life has a way of testing you out of center field with alarming or disarming stuff?  And it comes dressed in any number of ugly outfits. [click to continue…]

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If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulder,
I know my brother that He will carry you.
-Scott Wesley Brown

It was on an old four-propeller Lockheed Constellation airplane, on an 18-hour-long flight from Tokyo to San Francisco.  It was the mid-1950s.  Carol Willis was just a baby and had a severe earache.  To try to comfort her, her dad walked her up and down the aisle of that old plane throughout that long night.  If you’ve ever traveled with ear-sensitive children, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Over the years the family nightmare became something of the family joke.  Harlan – my father-in-law – would say, “I walked all the way across the Pacific Ocean carrying you in my arms.”

But the family joke also became the family prophecy and the family legacy, and it was a part of Carol’s emotional DNA.  Carol spent her growing up years in Thailand, where she and her family traveled across that ocean again to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to a nation they love to this day. [click to continue…]

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Is He Worthy of Honor When Your Heart is Broken?

by Andy Wood on October 19, 2012

in 100 Words

It’s one thing to honor God when your quiver, nest and storehouses are full.

Honoring Him in times of great loss is quite another.

[click to continue…]

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For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning
(Psalm 30:5, NLT)

Until we experience the promise of a home where there is no more night, we all will encounter seasons that feel as though dawn is forever an hour away.  It’s not a matter of if , but when the shadows grow long and dark.  And no one, regardless of their faith or pedigree, is immune from the seasons when darkness comes.

When darkness comes, “tired” takes on a whole new meaning.  Every fiber of your being aches for rest, but rest remains taunting and elusive.  Even the simplest of routine tasks feels like labor to exhaustion when darkness comes. [click to continue…]

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Sheriene Harris was looking forward to her dad coming to stay with her.  Then the two of them were going to take her son to football camp in the summer.

They had plans.

Instead, her father, age 70, had a urinary tract infection and needed to go to the hospital.  There he had a massive heart attack and died.

“I felt that he had so much more life to live,” Sheriene said.  “God, what happened?”

It didn’t make sense.

“All I kept saying to God was, “WE HAD PLANS!”

Apparently God had other plans.

What do you do when your plans collide with God’s?  Especially when your plans are noble, life-affirming, loving, or even kingdom-building? [click to continue…]

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Callie has been seeking the Lord a lot lately.  That’s because not very many people are seeking Callie, and the loneliness hurts.  Badly.  Truth be told, Callie sometimes seeks the Lord to give Him a piece of her mind.  But she has developed the kind of relationship with God where that level of honesty is common.

Callie believes.  But her faith is being tested, almost as much as Stephen’s.

Stephen feels as though he’s two steps past the edge of the ledge, and “all” he has to stand on is the promises of God.  But Stephen wants more.  He wants some evidence – a little sight to go with his faith.  He’s willing to do anything for God, but he wants to know exactly what that “anything” is, and feels terribly insecure in the face of an unclear future.

Stephen believes.  But his faith is being tested, almost as much as John and Julie. [click to continue…]

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No one prepared me for how empty the Emptiness could be…
How vain the attempts would be
To fill it with things and times and feelings
That were never designed to satisfy.
It was like dropping feathers into the Grand Canyon…
Always wishing for a little more time and a little less wind.
(A few more feathers would be nice, too.)
But I would never have known the deep satisfaction
That only Your love could provide,
Had I not known the void created by a life
I tried to fill on my own terms.
But I know now I’m loved
With a love that fills deeply and completely.
And in this satisfied life… I’ve been blessed. [click to continue…]

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Dylan hadn’t smiled for days.  His grandmother, whom he loved dearly, had died, and the ten-year-old was crushed.  His friends were worried about him, and convinced him to visit their special friend, an old man they called The Storyteller.  The Storyteller loved children, and often helped them with the special stories he would make up.  The Storyteller also knew Dylan’s grandmother.

“This is Dylan,” one of the kids said that Monday afternoon.  “His grandmother died last week, and he’s very sad.”

The Storyteller looked up from his gardening and sized up the boy.  “Sad” was an understatement.

“Looks like she found the Big Surprise,” said the Storyteller, with a twinkle in his eye.

“What’s the Big Surprise?” asked Dylan dejectedly.

“Well, let me tell you about it,” said the old man as he turned to sit on the grass and the kids sat around him. [click to continue…]

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Upwind of Ground Zero

by Andy Wood on May 1, 2011

in Turning Points

This is raw – straight from my journal and unedited, except for a few explanatory items in brackets.  It was written on September 11, 2001.  At the time I was traveling with Resource Services, Inc. as a church capital stewardship consultant.

This morning my phone woke me up in the Albany, NY hotel where I was staying.  It was Robin, making sure I was all right.  She said the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane in an act of terrorism.  I turned on the TV and was transfixed by the images of what I saw.  Two planes, one hitting each tower.  Then the subsequent collapse of both buildings.  Then the news that the Pentagon had suffered a similar fate from another airplane.

How do I begin to describe the horror, the fear, the fascination, and the numbness I felt?  Then my cell phone began to ring.  First, Amy Shillings from RSI.  Then Connie Smith.  Then Mother and Daddy.  Then Robin again.  Then Daddy again.  All making sure I was OK.

I finally decided at about 11:00 to get out for a while.  The beautiful, clear sky of September in upstate New York belied the scene of billowing smoke and debris that was taking place a couple of hours’ drive south of here.

I met a black man, Anthony, on the hotel elevator.  He wanted to know if I was going toward the mall.  “Come on,” I said.  I’ll take you where you need to go.”  Anthony was en route from one girlfriend to another.  No kidding.  Then later would catch the bus for a two-hour ride back home.  To his fiance.

I dropped Anthony off at the mall, and, still in the parking lot, decided to check my voice mail.  I heard the calls from [RSI CEO] Carl Hefton, [RSI President] Bill Wilson, and others – expressing care and support, encouraging us to do what we felt we needed to do, informing us that the travel office was prepared to assist in any way we needed.  I felt loved.  Cared for.  For once, not alone.  And there in the mall parking lot, I just cried like a baby. [click to continue…]

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It was a year ago today.  

In one sense, as my Dad said yesterday, it has flown by.  In another, it felt like a thousand years.

But if one thing has emerged from the past 365 days, it’s that when people or Bible writers talk about the “God of All Comfort,” I can say “Amen” and turn the pages with credibility.

But it didn’t start – or end – with the events surrounding my mother’s sudden death.  In fact, the biggest lesson of all was that healing of the heart is a journey through time.

Translation:  Don’t tell me how much comfort or encouragement you’re feeling in the funeral home.  You have no clue yet about comfort.  You’re still being buoyed and insulated by kind people and the truths of your faith.

Comfort – the real kind – comes later.

In the last year, I have been blessed to live what I have preached for years – that the words we use about a Heavenly Father who is who is able to empathize with our weaknesses and invites us to boldly approach a throne of grace are all true.  And believe me, other than the promise of eternal life, I can’t think of a promise that is more vital.

How does He do it?  If you’re the one just leaving the cemetery or the courthouse or the hospital, what can you expect?  How does the Lord put the pieces back together?  While every experience of loss – whether it is through death, rejection, forced job termination, or the death of a dream – is unique, I think I have found some common elements in the way our Heavenly Father brings about His healing. [click to continue…]

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