We sang Give Me Jesus, and I didn’t even cry. Not while I was singing, at least. I looked into the eyes of her grieving husband, and nine heartbroken children, and decided it was best to close my eyes. So I sang Give Me Jesus with my eyes closed, and no, I did not cry. But afterwards ….
Ardene was beautiful, fit, loving, giving, righteous, and devoted; full of life and passion and enthusiasm. She could outrun, outclimb, outplay just about any person, male or female. She was relatively young, with no diseases, so the doctors who attended her that last day of her life are still baffled as to why she died.
There were people in her life for whom Ardene was a champion… perhaps their only champion. For them the loss seemed insurmountable. There were children who desperately needed her, and a husband who had loved her since she was a girl.
We sat there at her funeral with one mighty big question on our spiritual lips. How could a loving God let this happen?
After we sang, our friend Steve Meek stood to speak. Steve is a doctor, a spiritual leader, and a down-to-earth kind of friend. He spoke for all of us:
“I have some questions. I want to know why this healthy woman got so sick so quickly. Why did the medicines not defeat the infection? Why did she not get a chance to finish raising her family? Why, when some people desperately needed her, was she taken from us?”
He could have asked the hundreds of people there, that filled the seats all the way back to the stage and beyond, to voice their questions one by one, and still there would have been more.
Then he said this:
“I do not have any answers. I wish I did. But just because I do not have them, it does not mean there are not answers.”
Last summer, when two year old Joe ran after his brother and sister and older cousins, out the cottage door and down to the beach, I called after him to come back. “You need to have a grown up with you, Joe.”
“But I AM a big kid!”
Poor little Joe.
I am Joe. I am an infant in big-time matters, and it should not surprise me that I do not have answers to some of the most powerful questions.
Here is my HOPE for today: That I remember in Whom I trust; that I recognize there are powers that are beyond my understanding, and they see the mosaic of life from a meaningful distance while I am stuck here on my teeny tiny piece of tile. I do not believe we live in a swirl of chaos. I believe the great mysteries, and the small ones, fall into a well intended pattern that will become obvious to me somewhere down the road. Until I get there , I am confident that Someone, somewhere, is fully aware and has the answers that seem unanswerable to me now.
During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day. I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity. This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.