I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord
Psalm 27: 13-14

Friday, May 25, 2012

Amazing witness...

On Monday we celebrated our dear friend Jeff's life on this earth.

Can I just say...I was beyond moved that every seat in that church was filled. 

I am so sad that this was the reason for the gathering...but moved beyond words!

One could not step in to that sanctuary with dry eyes. 

One of Jeff's family friends delivered the eulogy.  I was blown away.  The description this man gave, the image of Jeff he revealed...the friendship and respect for Jeff seen in this man...there are no words as to how beautiful he spoke of Jeff.  And of Jeff's amazing faith in God.  And his pure desire that lost come to know the Lord. 
I knew how very much he loves Tamara and the kids..but I learned a side of Jeff that although I knew...I didn't know HOW deep his faith ran.  Without wavering.  And with impact.  And with a focus on others and not himself.

Greg said something that has permanently etched itself in my brain.  "Put self on the shelf".
I can't walk away from that small piece of wisdom, with such amazing impact.

This life isn't just about us.  And when we have the faith of God, when we have his truth in our hearts...is it not then for us to share so that others may experience such a freedom?

Yes, losing Jeff was a shock.  His battle with this wretched cancer was...I can't think of the right words, but really, it was wrong.  It just felt unfair and wrong.  For ANY victim of cancer.
But Jeff had his rock-solid faith, right to the very end.  He clung to that.  He knew he would be okay because he knew he was right with God and trusted Him unfailingly.

Jeff's impact on others did NOT end the day he entered heaven.  His life mission to reach out to the lost and the less fortunate will not end in vain.  Satan did NOT win through cancer.  As a matter of fact...he lost even more.  Because I have to believe with all my heart that in the service for Jeff, lives were touched and more saints of heaven were gained, returned and secured.

This amazing man has a testimony that will carry on.  It will not be forgotten.
And it sure as heck challenged me in my faith and my walk with the Lord. 

I am so grateful for the beautiful words that Greg shared that day.  I am so grateful for the life Jeff led.  I am so grateful that through his family he will carry on.  And I am beyond grateful that I know because of our faith in Jesus, and our acceptance of him in our lives through our confession of sin and simply inviting Him in...we live.  Even at the end of our days on this earth...we will live.  The life we were meant to live.  We will rejoin with family and friends. 
I am exciting to meet the children I never held here on earth, I am excited to see Zac's eyes one again and hold him, I am excited to family that have passed before me, and I am looking so forward to hearing Jeff's unforgettable laugh.

The thing with Satan...he can try to win through bitterly painful loss and trials, but because of God and His role in our lives...no matter what...Satan loses.  He's a LOSER!

My heart aches daily, hourly, for my sweet friend Tamara and the children.  That is the side of pain and loss that can not be "clich├Ęd" away.  Yes, God's word is a balm, but right now...pain and grief are raw and real.  And a person who has lost is aware of the word of God...but at the moment just needs to hear "this sucks beyond imagine...and I will be here for you!" 

When Zac passed away...I KNOW peoples intentions and words were not meant to harm or hurt.  But referring to Evan as "at least you have Evan"...was a daggar to my soul.  Evan is never an "at least".  And the reality of it is...Evan's life is not responsible for taking away the pain and fact that Zac is no longer on this earth.  That is a burden that Evan does not require.  Evan does not replace Zac, just as Zac would have never replaced Evan.  Losing a child, losing a husband, a wife, a parent...nothing is supposed to "replace" that and suddenly make everything better. 

Though step by step, day by day...slllllllowly...we allow God's healing to take place.  One day at a time, we feel His love, His comfort, His sorrow.  Baby steps at a time we learn it is okay to laugh again.  To feel again.  That even now, He is in control.  He loves us.  He hurts with us.
In the throws of sorrow, that is hard to accept when the questions of "why" happen.  When we know He could have healed and changed events. 
And knowing our answers will never be found on earth is a hard pill to swallow. 
But step by step we remember our faith and trust that we had in the depths of the valley, and we reconnect to where we feel betrayed (yes, betrayed). 

Our God loves.  He loves without bounds and questions.  He wants to carry us through the pain, not just the easy days.  He wants us to allow Him to pick us up and walk with us. 

Pain and confusion and questions have a way of putting up a guard.  It's a natural defense.  But slowly and bit by bit...we let that guard down and trust Him again.  He is the same today as He was in the midst of our valleys.  He does not change.  He will not lie.  He will become that balm our broken heart needs. 

But right now, pain is real.  Loss is real.  Confusion and questions are still center in the mind.  And lets say it like it is...it sucks.

I pray for peace and comfort and healing for Tamara and the kids.  I pray for what I can only imagine one of the most bitter-sweet days in Tamara's life...delivering her and Jeff's fourth child without Jeff physically present there.  I pray for the kids as they grow.  That their faith will not falter from the pain of losing their daddy.  I pray for their protection and their faith.

I know the pain of losing a child.  But knowing THAT pain does not put me in a place of understanding Tamara's pain of losing her husband, friend, partner.  I can not fathom.  And it breaks my heart for her and for the kids.

I ask that you pray for this sweet woman who never once wavered through Jeff's illness.  She stood strong in her faith alongside Jeff.  She cared for Jeff on his down days and never left his side.  She is a woman of strength and loving beauty.  A true example.
Pray for her as she prepares for her delivery.  Pray for their three children and for this little one on the way.  Pray for the family...parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.  Pray for dear friends who were ever present through Jeff's illness.
Cover them in God's love and protection.

Remember that saying I mentioned that Greg said through his eulogy?

Put self on the shelf!

Live for more than just earthly wants and gains. 
Live for what truly matters.  Your relationship and our walk with God.  Being there for those who need it.  Living outside of yourself.  Being the hands of God.  And His arms of comfort. 

I will never forget the words spoken of Jeff, and the man of faith he was. 

He continues to touch my life, and I am honored and blessed to call him friend.

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