Last night, I couldn’t sleep after having had a special time with my mom in which the veil of Dementia was lifted and she told me she loved me for the first time since her stroke, nearly 3 years ago. My grief bubbled to the surface as I acknowledged that she is approaching the finish line of her time here on earth, and I will be losing someone who was once my dearest friend. So I came downstairs to work through my emotions with God, my Counselor. He said, “Come out to the patio. I have something to show you.”
Dear reader who is struggling with loss or pain today, I invite you to join me on the patio. Pull up a rocking chair next to me and let your gaze fall upon this image God wanted to show me in my backyard. Hear God’s precious words to me (and, perhaps, to you today).
I died on the cross because of my great love for you. I died for your mom and all who would believe in me, so that I could make a way to bring you home to me someday. I died and was raised to life so that you also may also be raised to life with me forever, so rejoice! When I come to get your mom, although you will no longer see her, she will see me in glory!
Stand up and walk to the corner of your yard. Look at the fireworks happening right now across town. Those fireworks are nothing compared to the celebration in heaven when one of my faithful followers is received into glory. Now look behind you at the approaching lightning storm. This is where you stand: the storm of life on earth is bearing down upon you, flashing around you, while you strain to see the future glory of heaven in the distance. But in between them, right next to you, is the cross, the symbol of my love for you and presence with you. While you stand in this place between sorrow and hope, you must choose to fix your eyes on me.
The storm is approaching. Feel the wind as it picks up speed, drying your tears and cooling down the hot, summer air. I asked you to bring a blanket out with you because even though it was hot when you first came out, I knew you would need it now. I know what you will need in the coming storm, and you can trust me to provide it before you know you need it.
When the lightning flashes, look at the cross. There are many distractions in this world, but fix your eyes on me and I will keep you from stumbling. The enemy wants to use the lightning and thunder of adversity to scare you, but see how the lightning lights up the cross in the dark night sky each time it flashes? As long as your eyes are on me, the lightning will showcase my glory and goodness. My perfect love casts out all fear.
Listen to the rain as it begins to fall and water the parched ground. The enemy may try to frighten you with lightning, but I send the rain to refresh and restore. Do not fear the storm because there are blessings for you in it. In this season, I want you to not hunker down until the storm passes by, but sing in the midst of it.”
And so I sang. Hymns and choruses I haven’t sung in years, rocking in my chair beneath the patio shelter and the blanket God knew I would need. Thunder rolled, lightning continued to flash, and my words rose to heaven: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.”
As the rain subsided I looked to the cross, now barely visible, and was surprised to hear a song request.
Sing that song you sang to me when you were 5 years old in the Christmas musical, dressed up as Tiny the lamb. I loved that one.
Really? Okay… “Sleep, Jesus, sleep. You must rest free from all harm. Sweet lamb of God, precious holy one.”
No, those aren’t the words. The last line is, ‘Sweet lamb of God’s precious child I am.’ Remember that you are my precious child. Long after your mother is gone from this world, you will still be my precious child. I was there through all those memories your mother has now forgotten. She may not be able to remember your past anymore, but I do. I have always been there. I will always be here. The sun has set on the cross today, but it will rise again tomorrow. Keep your eyes on me, my precious child. I love you.
Yes, Father, I will keep my eyes on you and sing your praise in the storm. I love you too.