Wednesday, July 27, 2011

For Love

When I crested the hill and saw the parking lot so full, I had to swallow them hard. The tears surprised me with their early defiance. The sanctuary was overflowing to the balcony, so many come to celebrate thirty-seven years of a life lived in abandon to Christ. Jennifer's last nine months were spent in a slow graceful submission to cancer. She was thirty-seven, and I think of Mike when he had cancer. He, too, had been thirty-seven. 

I sat alone and scanned the room for familiar faces. It's been fifteen years since Mike was Jennifer's minister. She was a twenty-year-old nursing student back then. It's like balm to go back, see old friends, be strengthened by memories. I hugged Christy, her sister, and she asked if we could see one another soon. "Yes, soon," I say over her husband, Ashley's shoulder, as he is next in line to hug. I squeeze the hand of Jennifer's husband, a man I've never met, and look sadly into his eyes. He smiles back brave, all for love.

And there we all are, a mass of humanity, facing death, facing life, looking back, being forced forward. We hold each other up, all for love.

Mike could have died at thirty-seven, me widowed at thirty-four. This same room of people would have attended his funeral. It could have been right here in this very sanctuary. Our three kids may have never known their dad. They were only three, four and seven, so very young. But he was spared. I was. Our children, too.

Two days ago we sat in a restaurant to celebrate the life of another who walked away after a fall from a roof to asphalt below that should have been fatal one year ago this week. Without explanation, he lived. God is so good.

And why do some live and some die? Why is there a brain tumor, and a surgery that ends with no brain activity, and a forty-four year old mom just gone? Why do families have to drive home alone? Is God so good then, too?

Why the shooting, a needless violence, a teenager dismissed from this life with the thin smoke of a tragic amount of gunpowder. A family coagulates at the point of the wound, the fatal one. All for love.

We are in such need of you, Lord. And it's so hard not to ask why. What kind of God doles out good and bad both, so seemingly arbitrary in his giving of life and death? I see no logic in it, so there is room for only faith. I swallow again, and dab another tear that escapes the floodgates holding back hard.

Scriptures rotate on the screen behind the singers, all friends of mine from long ago, but sisters in Christ still today. Those rotating scriptures are recycled, because they are the ones Jennifer chose herself, not for her funeral, but as text messages to support a group of her loved ones. She sends them, the one dying encouraging the living, because that's just who Jennifer was. All for love.

And I sit tonight weary from three days of emotion, but glad for a Father to run to when there has been three tragic deaths in as many days dotted with the remembrances of two that were spared. When hearts break, when tears flood, when relief sighs heavy, and when questions come, He is there. Simply there for love.

I'm grateful for Him to walk with this Wednesday, to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.  Remembering Jennifer, Catrina, Boyd's nephew, Steve's miracle, and every day I've had with Mike since he was thirty-seven and it was found to be cancer.

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