One Month

Wednesday I posted on Facebook:

If I were to blame/be angry at God over the death of my beloved wife, then I must also blame/be angry with Him over the death of His Son.

If I were to credit God with the resurrection of His beloved Son, then I must also credit Him with the resurrection of my dear wife.

Did God bring sin and death into this world or love and life? Which was His desire for us, His children?

Would the two pairings have meaning at all if not opposed to each other? Or if the other did not exist?

Eden was never intended to remain paradise, then; nor was it a mere crucible or test tube. Eden was meant to be the first battlefield.

And so what was within God’s will — sin and death — was not itself God’s will — love and life — but necessary for His will to have meaning to us; to enable us to choose love and life over sin and death.

To choose His will for us and not what gratifies self and kills the soul.

I can’t put this in simpler words. This is the only rational response I can pose to the great gaping WHY that challenges us all.

God is not to blame.

It is simply the way things MUST be, for anything to have meaning or purpose or significance.

It is not bigger than God.

It is the way He chose to make it fair for us to choose.

And we must choose.

Now it’s Saturday, and the day is done.

I — we, my family, all those who love her — lost Angi one month ago today.

What will we choose?

What will I choose?

Will I choose to continue believing, go on trusting?

A friend who has experienced the loss of his wife as well as a dear child (in a way that I feel certain would have broken me) commented on this blog recently that after such an experience, it was possible for him to keep his faith for a while. He said that for him, it was about two months.

I keep putting on the brave face. I keep writing to encourage myself, and sometimes it seems to encourage others. I keep busy, putting off having to deal with the loss fully. There are so many other things that require my attention. I have plenty of excuses to procrastinate.

But the cracks in the courage still show up. I can weep. I can patch them up. I can cover them over with a smile and brave words.

Still I know the measure of joy I knew is gone. It  will always be gone, as long as I live and breathe.

And I find there are things that I still can’t do.

I can’t seem to find time, make time, put myself to the time to continue posting submissions at New Wineskins. I have commitments to people. I have proposed to myself extending the current edition about “Lament” to a second month, into which we have gone an entire week and a day now. I just can’t seem to do what needs to be done.

Yes, I believe the e-zine still blesses people. The blessings I receive by e-mail and Facebook message from folks who’ve been blessed by it still outnumber the railings and the condemnings by quite a good margin.

Yes, I believe Angi would want me to continue working at it, keeping it up to date and fresh.

Yes, I still want to do it.

I just can’t seem to now. Not yet. It hurts to try. It hurts to think about it.

One month.

And I wonder — though my friend’s comment was in no way a challenge, dare, or warning; simply a personal observation — how long will my faith persist before the cracks start to show?

Two months? Three? A year?

I don’t know.

It would be so much more than a shame, a pity or even a tragedy to be fighting and running for the prize in an arena of witnesses, then let the accuser cut in … give up the fight and quit the race; not finish the course.

Not keep the faith.

Running in vain.

How long can I keep faith flying on wings like eagles before my pace slows to a run that grows weary and then a walk that ends in a faint?

If I were truly alone, it would not take long at all.

But I’m not.

There may be people who can go it alone, and walk and run and fly solo on a wing and a prayer and a book of scriptural verses.

I’m not one of them.

Like the author of St. Patrick’s Breastplate, I need Christ before me in the pages of the Word, yes.

I need Christ behind me in the witness of His saints, yes.

I need Christ above me, bearing my prayers to His Father, absolutely.

But also …

I need Christ within me through His Holy Spirit.

I need Christ about me in the surround of His church.

Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

If you don’t need that, I suppose that’s fine for you. But I know what I need. What I’ve always needed. What I need now more than ever before. What I always will need, in increasing measure and greater grace and wider fellowship and deeper love and endless trust.

Until the day I breathe my last.

And it’s only been a month.

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6 thoughts on “One Month

  1. Keith , I pray for you over these things. The “workers” of the church are those who are tested the most. I had a pastor quit a church I went to after he lost his right hand man. He became the director of a seminary in Wisconsin. But, he will never be a pastor again. He became an academic. He went back to a “safety zone”.
    Maybe you did need a time out on “Wineskins”. I am sure others will come to the for and take it over for awhile …so you can regroup. I know other doors will open for you in your life to help fill some of the void. In my own life this is true. I had a very hard time with the loss of my brother Tom at the age of 39. He was more than my brother…he was my best friend who could always be counted on… I use the experience that I had with my brother in presentations in my business on how life is uncertain…and how preventative measures can save a life…so some good came out of it.
    Keith, you are still blessed. You have a wonderful daughter and extremely caring friends who would do anything for you. You have an abundance of “riches”
    Don’t ever give up writing…you were the most insightful person I knew back in high school. I am honored to call you my friend. Bless you Keith…

  2. “If I were to blame/be angry at God over the death of my beloved wife, then I must also blame/be angry with Him over the death of His Son.”

    I never thought of it that way. I was very angry at God when my brother took his own life a little over a year ago. God has since walked me through it but I think that statement would have given me some new perspective I think.

  3. I would say that my heart is broken for you. But I’m sure you’ve already heard that a thousand times. In fact, I’m certain I’ve already said that to you. And for some reason, right now it just seems so cliché.

    Instead, though, I will say (with a little more candor than I’m completely comfortable with) that I hurt for you more than I knew I could. I cry for you more than I thought I would.

    And I pray for you…for the past several days I’ve just prayed, “God, please give him what he needs. You know better than anyone what he needs. Please give him what he needs.”

    But from this post, it would seem that you, as well, have a pretty good idea of what you need. And that’s Christ and His love. And I pray that you’re surrounded by Him.

    “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people.”

  4. Pingback: this went thru my mind | preachersmith

  5. Powerful. Honest. Humble. Praying still as you grieve the Love of your life God gave you. There is a time for mourning and it is now. And there is no time limit for grieving. One day your mourning will be replaced with rejoicing but only because of our shared Hope in Heaven.

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