On Monday, I remembered exactly where I was just a year ago and it has changed me. I was at my sister-in-law’s house. They had just flown my husband’s father in from Minnesota where they had tried to seek help from the famous Mayo Clinic known for bringing many miracles to families in healing from cancer. We were one of those families hanging on for a miracle.
He was only there for a few days when reality had set in that it was time for him to come home, to surrender the fight and come find rest. His body was too weak to even face the tests needed in order to find a cure. Our souls were downcast. We were heartbroken for what lied ahead of us. They had brought in hospice care. All of us gathered around his bed as we held on tight to our moments with him. I remember grabbing his “Jesus Calling” devotion that he had gotten for Christmas and asked him if he wanted me to read it to him. He agreed. He was always agreeable with me. He loved me deeply. My voice quivered as I read,
“APPROACH THIS DAY WITH AWARENESS OF WHO IS BOSS. As you make plans for the day, remember that it is I who orchestrate the events of your life. On days when things go smoothly, according to your plans, you may be unaware of My Sovereign Presence. On days when your plans are thwarted, be on the lookout for Me! I may be doing something important in your life, something quite different from what you expected. It is essential at such times to stay in communication with Me, accepting My way as better than yours. Don’t try to figure out what is happening. Simply trust Me and thank Me in advance for the good that will come out of it all. I know the plans I have for you, and they are good.”
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:9-11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Wow! I could feel Him speaking to each one of us intimately. What He was saying to Charles was completely different than what He was speaking to me yet the words were the same. Isn’t that amazing! God was with us bringing us hope in the midst of our downcast souls. Our plans for Charles had definitely been thwarted. God was definitely doing something quite different than what we expected and somehow we had to find a way to trust that His plans were better than ours.
After I finished reading the devotion we returned our attention to him. Whatever he needed we were going to provide. We applied chap-stick, rubbed lotion on his feet, sat in bed with him and just were present. We reminisced about some funny stories with Granddad. All of the grandkids were in bed with him laughing and kissing and holding his hand. It was a beautiful moment for all of us, but there came a time when we had to leave. We had to say good-bye. This was not easy and the tears came. I remember seeing my strong husband not be able to contain his emotions. I asked if he needed me to go in with him. I wanted to give them time with just the two of them, but Ryan said he needed me to be there. We said our good-byes together. I was able to thank him for being the man that he was to raise my husband to be the man that he is. Ryan learned to love and fear our God from his dad. He was a quiet and gentle man that had a tremendous strength. He never complained, not once. He amazed me.
When we walk through the fire, we never walk alone. In Daniel 3, we see an account of this truth. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had refused to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. He threatened them that if they did not bow down and worship it that they would be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” –Daniel 3:15 I love their bold response. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18
Now those were some brave and courageous men. Their response enraged the king and he ordered that the furnace be turned up to be 7x’s hotter. They were bound up and thrown into the fire. Due to the heat, even the king’s soldiers fell in and burned. Check out what the king saw, “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisors, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25
Jesus was in the fire with them. He is in the fire with us. Sometimes He actually unbinds us from the chains. We were bound but now are free. Isn’t that a beautiful image of what happens to us when we go through the fire. We are never the same again. We are set free and transformed into more of the image of our Lord.
One year ago today, Charles took his last breath on earth but the refining of the fire has him sitting with the Heavenly Father today. He has been made completely NEW!!! When I studied Daniel, Beth Moore explained it this way: When we go through a fiery trial we can be delivered from the fire and our faith is built. This would be if we found out we had cancer, but the next time they ran test they discovered that it was gone. These miracles do happen. It’s the way we all pray it go’s, or we can be delivered through the fire and our faith is refined. We have cancer, we have to go through chemo and radiation but through the treatments we are healed. It’s like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They had to go into the fire but were rescued in it. Finally, we can be delivered by the fire straight into his arms and our faith is perfected. I love Beth’s words when she said, “When God wants to deliver you this way it’s because he’s ready to see your face.” Tears fall as I think about Him seeing Charles’s face. He was delivered by the fire and is perfected. Thank you Jesus!
So what did I do this Martin Luther King Monday, I went with my sister-in-law to Thin Air Trampoline Park to celebrate my niece’s 11th birthday. What a year it has been! Beauty from Ashes!!!
Father, thank you for every single moment that I had with Charles. Thank you for giving him to me. Thank you for my husband and his sister, Shar. Today, will you continue to wrap your loving arms of comfort around them and continue to bring your peace. Your word tells us that “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. Thank you for this promise. Be with all of your children Lord that are mourning a loss of someone they loved. Help them to realize that you have perfected them and you were ready to see their face. Lord, we trust you in however you see us through our fires whether you deliver us from, through or by the fire, your way is the best way. We trust you! Thank you for Jesus and for His self-less death on the cross that made it possible to be with you forever in our eternal home. It’s in His name I pray! Amen