"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

04 October 2011

God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed.*

Note: This was a really difficult post to write, and I almost scrapped it. But I didn't want to not write about it, because it's very much on my mind often these days. So please read with grace.

On Sunday, September 25, 2011, my friend Kerry was called home to Jesus. I know His first words to her were, without a doubt, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," because without question, Kerry lived her life to glorify Him.

We made the trip down to Virginia to attend the memorial service. The entire service was absolutely beautiful and poignant. Friends and family shared about Kerry's steadfast faith, prayers for comfort were offered up to the Lord, songs were sung about His goodness, faithfulness, and gift of redemption.

The pastor shared that at his last visit with Kerry, she had asked two main questions:

1. Was God answering prayers that He be glorified?
2. Is it okay to quit?

This blew my mind away.

I feel like I got to know Kerry a little bit better that day as I listened to the stories being shared. I still wish that Brennan could have met "Aunt Kerry," even if he wouldn't ever remember her. I wish I had been able to say goodbye-for-now. But most of all, I am so thankful that she isn't struggling anymore. I have never before in my life fully comprehended the meaning of celebrating someone's life well-lived, but Saturday was just that, a glorious testimony to a life lived in honor of our sovereign Lord. There's the accompanying sorrow and grief, as there is with any significant loss, but I am seeing the other side of death more clearly for the first time.

As we spoke with her parents and Ben, their God-given peace just overflowed. I know that the struggle to learn to live this life without Kerry will be the hardest for them, and we noted that the grace with which they were presenting themselves was part of the testimony of who Kerry was. She had an incredible family support system.

Nich mentioned to me on the ride down that each time we leave Virginia, he wonders if anything will take us back there again. He also said that Kerry has been the reason we have visited the last three times: I was in her wedding in the winter of 2008, we attempted to visit her at Duke in 2010, and most recently, for her memorial service.

I don't know what would take us back to Virginia ever again, but despite the circumstances, this trip blessed us. Both Nich and I felt compelled to re-examine our lives, to strive to better hear the Lord's voice in our daily decisions, to hone our focus, to simplify. If it is our last visit there, it will definitely have been a worthwhile and memorable one.

We pray for Ben as a family every night now, right after reading Brennan's bedtime Bible story. I know that there are many people doing the same. I hope he feels those prayers in his heart.

*Job 1:21, The Message

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