365 days. It’s been that long since I have felt his arms around me, or his hand holding mine as we knelt together in prayer before our Father. Since I heard his big boisterous laugh, listened to him share his future ministry dreams with me, or just overheard him playfully count to ten as he took part in a game of hide and seek around the house with the kids. Since I’ve seen his work number pop up on the caller ID at lunchtime just to check in, or saw his eyes crinkle with that big smile, as he told me how beautiful I was and how blessed he was to be my husband.
The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is… it’s been a year today. A year of intense grief, and a year of lavished grace. A year of heart wrenching loss, and a year of never ending, Heaven sent love. And the only way to truly describe it is to say that I am held. Held in the palm of His hand while evil tries to prevail and life can appear so crazy busy that I don’t even know how I will make it through the current day. Sometimes I haven’t even known the words to describe it – this all encompassing Presence that brings peace when all around me is unknown and chaotic.
“…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
My prayer all along has been based on Isaiah 61:3. I have prayed for beauty from ashes, and that I would be willing to suffer and deal with the loneliness that this year has brought with it, if that is what will bring God glory. It’s such a hard prayer to pray, but even when it hurts, I know it’s right and how I can please Him with my life after all He’s done for me. My little feeble attempt of sacrificial worship in response to His lavished gift of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. My God is good and He is for me. He has made it very clear through the multitude of people who have come alongside us this year, that He loves us, and we are never truly alone.
I’m still waiting to see how the beauty from ashes will take shape. I understand that it may take a lot of patience, possibly a really long time to see, and that there will probably be fully unanswered questions until I get to Heaven myself.
But it’s the second half of that verse that has become more real and practical to me. It’s the part about the oak of righteousness, for the display of His splendor. I heard Lauren Chandler pray it recently: “Lord, let my roots grow so deep in You, and may such great fruit result that You receive much glory.” And it’s been my prayer since right after B’s passing – “Grow my roots deep, Jesus. Let them be so firmly planted that nothing on this earth can destroy them.”
I watched just the other day, as fence guys tried to lay a fence post too close to a large oak tree in our back yard. Over and over they hit at those roots, until they were covered in sweat and had to stop for a break. Those roots didn’t budge easily, no matter how hard they were hit. And I saw it once again. The importance of the roots – the foundation of the tree. When we see Christ for who He really is – His majesty and our smallness, His sovereignty and our weakness – our roots stay grounded. The tree sways, loses some branches, and looks a little beat up after the storm. But the roots underneath? It will take a whole lot more to destroy them. They are grounded, and they continue to grow.
So, believing that only through God’s strength, He gives me the ability to remain grounded like an oak tree, I choose to move forward. Yes, I will always love and miss B, and be grateful for the amazing husband and father he was that helped shape a strong foundation for our family. But I believe He has good in store for me and my children, and I’m trusting Him with hope and expectation at the future. And, I’m grateful that by God’s grace, a lot of others’ prayers, and godly wise counsel, I’ve made it through a really hard year with my roots still secure.
So today, our family will cry as we celebrate B and the impact he made during his somewhat short time on earth. But much more, we will celebrate a God who holds us in the palm of His hand and works in amazing ways to secure our roots, and lets us see His beautiful love and merciful provision shining through the darkest of nights.by