Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away--Part II

 "...shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"
Job 2:10
The night of Dave's home coming, when the tears were still wet and my heart was so heavy....the phone rang. It was 10pm-- a time when my phone has usually silenced. I saw the name of our social worker appear on the caller i.d. and I knew. She had a referral for us. For months now we had been dreaming about the faceless child in China who we believed God had chosen for us. We'd worked tirelessly on paperwork (still are!), paid thousands in fees, and had our hearts kicked around all to culimate in the actual matching of child with family. Was it really happening now? This isn't how I pictured it. I could barely grip any threads of happiness to hoist up and place in my voice. I just stared at the phone. But I answered, didn't I? Of course. And I heard those words: "we have a little boy for you." In that moment it was possible for grief and joy to coexist. I wanted to know about that boy. Our boy?
We talked for a few moments and she then said she would email the photos and medical information for us to review and we had 48 hours to decide, act, and committ. I'd like to say that I patiently downloaded the narrative first to read about who this child is and what he's been through. But, I wanted to see his face and when that picture appeared on the screen my tears transformed and we both wept for joy.
 He is the sweetest little child you have ever seen. Big brown eyes. Beautiful dark hair and eyebrows. Pensive mouth. He's 15 months old with a diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy. To us, he's just perfect. He IS our boy.
 The next few days were spent in high-intensity fury as we gathered the neccessary documents to secure his adoption to us. It was secured the day we buried Dave's earthly body. Why connect such a joyous event to such a grievous one? Well, the buds push through near winter's end don't they? God reminded us of his faithfulness. God reminded us that He does know exactly what he's doing. He gives gifts even amidst times of sorrow. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
So now the journey continues. More paperwork. More money. More waiting. But at the end of it all, there's a face to this gift and God's promises stand all along the way. The master called a life in and sent forth a life all in the same day. We serve a mighty God whose ways can never be understood. Praise be for that.

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away--Part I

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Job 1:21 

The past few weeks have been some of the hardest on the calendar. Our small congregation has lost four church members in three weeks....and it hurts. It really hurts. One of those dear people suddenly called to his Father's side was our friend, Dave Hudson. He was a sweet and gentle man who was deliberate in what he said, and intentional in what he did. As someone who can be so flippant in both word and deed, these were characteristics I so admired about Dave for it takes a tremendous amount of godliness and self-control.
Of course, Dave was a very godly man. We've known this family for about eight years, but the past few he and his wife (Claire) have sat at our dining room table nearly every Sunday evening. We've enjoyed fellowship with him as we shared a meal, studied God's word, and prayed. Everything he said and did was infused with a deep passion for the Lord which he wore on his face through his vibrant smile. I respected him and loved him.
So the day he met Jesus had more sorrow for me than it should have. It seemed that the joy of knowing he was safe in the Savior's presence was clouded by the grief of knowing his wife was broken hearted, his girls had lost their hero father, and our church had lost an elder, a teacher, a brother, a friend. There's that minute (or, more truthfully, sometimes longer than a minute) when you really wonder if God knew what he was doing when he took his servant home. What about those of us left behind?
I carried those thoughts around that first day as a I struggled to believe the reality of the matter. And then I thought of Job. Divinely, it was the book of Job that our group had decided to begin studying exactly one week before Dave's passing. The Lord knew. Now Job lost all of his children and upon hearing this he displayed all the expressions of grief. Isn't it wonderful that we have freedom to grieve? We can cry. We can pound our fists. We can ache from the very depths of our souls...freely. HOWEVER, Job also worshipped the Lord. He blessed the name of Jehovah. He submitted. He did not curse him or shout hasty words against God. He submitted and worshipped, knowing that God wills trials for his own reasons and believers are to trust.
 I'm clinging to that and his family is too. We will grieve knowing that tomorrow night he's not coming. His space will be empty. But instead of supping with us, He's supping at the ultimate table. He has seen Jesus, and that, my friends, takes my breath away.