Thursday, November 6, 2014

my anchor holds within the veil

“In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.”

People deal with grief in so many different ways. My Pappy made jokes and told stories. He eloquently danced around the present circumstances with memories of burnt toast and made free-throws. My mother and aunts became busy-bees. They planned, they cooked, they cleaned, they hosted. Up until the very last minute, they took care of every last detail. My brother just let it all out. Unashamedly letting big fat tears roll down his cheeks as he put an arm around my shoulder. 

Me? All of the above. I changed the subject, kept myself busy and let it all out in my husband’s arms. And now, I’m doing what I do best when circumstances make no sense and thoughts can’t simply be dismissed. I write it out.

My grandmother - Mammie - passed away last Tuesday. After 87 faithful years, Mammie experienced the true joy of seeing Jesus, her Savior, face-to-face. She no longer feels the pain of cancer, knows the struggle of sin, or bears the disappointments of this world. And that’s a reason to celebrate. 

But it’s so hard to celebrate when the pain of her absence still surrounds me… When I see my Pappy, who is without his bride for the first time in 65 years... When I talk to my mom, who can no longer talk to her mom... When I think about all the people who will miss my Mammie’s kindness, encouragement and generosity.

I swipe at every memory of her within reach, trying my best to memorize every detail before the vanish forever. 

... giving little Clay and I a bath and calling us “Toadfrogs.” At the time I thought she was referring to the goosebumps that covered our bare skin, but now I’m not so sure.
... praising a picture I drew of the “mountains” outside our big yellow house, and how I had enough perspective to make the blue of the sky touch the purple of the peaks.
… asking me to play the piano for her, and reminding me that my ability to make music would long outlast my ability to shoot a basketball.
… handing out gifts at Christmas time, presents overflowing under the tree, past the entryway and into the adjoining bedroom, trying to figure out which gift went to which loved one.
… funding 90 percent of my impact trip to South Africa, even though my parents were hesitant about me going.
… telling stories after Sunday lunch at our house on Easter, Mother’s Day and “just because” weekends.
… whispering “just remember, Jenny, pretty is as pretty does” with a kiss on the cheek before saying goodbye every time.

Only two weeks ago my pastor gave a sermon entitled, “A Word to Weary Runners,” and a statement he made that morning has been on repeat in my head for the past week:

“Our greatest pain is our greatest grace because it leads us to our greatest hope.”

It’s hard to see God’s grace in the midst of so much hurting, but never before have I needed the reassurance of the hope I have in Jesus Christ like I do now. 

This hope reminds me that I have a Savior that died to save me and you and Mammie from the brokenness of this world and the sinfulness of our nature. That He rose from the dead and conquered the grave. That He is the Ultimate Victor and one day we will join Him in a new heaven and a new earth that will be free from death, cancer, pain, tears and all the effects of a fallen world. And there will be Mammie and Grandpa Jack and little Anna and all the faithful servants that have gone before us. 

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”
~Hebrews 6:19

This hope doesn’t mean I won’t suffer or that I won’t feel the breathtaking sharpness of pain in my gut or even that I won’t cry as I type these words. But it does mean that I have a Friend and Savior who has gone before me, who knows my loss and who will see me through. And in the midst of pain, He is hope.

How do you respond to grief? Where do you find your hope?

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