I feel like the lone passenger on a sailboat out in the middle of the deep blue sea. The sun is shining, the seagulls are seen and heard overhead, the horizon stretches for miles and miles, but the wind is absent. It is complete silence and with the absence of the wind, there is the absence of strength to move my boat. The sail is still and limp. And as I sit, all alone in the beauty of the ocean, all alone with my thoughts, I feel sullen. I feel shocked. I feel reflective. Because in the midst of my wondering mind that creates a picture of my aloneness out on the deep, blue waters, lies the constant thoughts of have I done enough? Do I have enough faith? Is my attitude in the right spot? How will I react when I am called to my next hard place? And I wonder over earthly death and Heavenly life.
There are plenty of people writing about Kara Tippetts. She was a beautiful Christ follower who left this hell on earth to finally meet her Jesus face to face yesterday. She was a talented writer who got to the heart of the matter and spoke creatively in ways most of us cannot script with our own hand. And while I never had the chance to know Kara on a personal level, I know her husband Jason. I know he will always hold a special place in my heart. I know on my wedding day, walking down the aisle to my dear husband, Jason stood next to him with a tender smile on his face. I know I played hide-and-seek in dark graveyards with Jason and Amy and Steve when we were freshmen in high school. I know of Jason’s contagious smile and being loved by everyone. I know all our high school friends remember Jason’s white Mustang without working brakes as he used the parking brake to stop his car. I know miles and years do not separate old friends. And I know today he is hurting. How does one prepare for the death of your bride? So today, my thoughts and prayers are focused on eternity, on faith, on Jason and their four precious young children with fresh tears and hurting hearts as they attempt to process the news of their mom no longer present in their home.
Today I have been reflective thinking on my own faith in Christ, and it feels inadequate to the breadth and depth of Kara’s. No, I should not compare. Yet it is hard not to look at the faith of one who walked the hard road and not wonder if I, too, possess that same breadth and depth of faith. If I were to walk the same journey of metastatic cancer, would I also trust in my Heavenly Father with the same abandon as Kara? I only know He called her to walk the hard road because the evidence is tangible and real of how many lives the Lord was able to touch because of Kara’s suffering. And all I can do is hope and pray if the Lord asks me to walk the hard road, if He asks me to suffer, if He asks me to lay down all my hopes and dreams, if He asks me to journey the impossible path, that I will do it with abundant grace and faith. Will I look beyond my own story to taste and see and touch the story of redemption? Will I take the hand of mercy and walk the road of the living testimony? I should hope so. I should only hope my faith is so strong to graciously accept the devastation of unanswered dreams.
It is the dance, the twist in the story of life, as we are all called to trust that whatever comes next is already full of the grace to walk the journey faithfully. And every one of us will see the hard. We will walk the lonely road. We will be challenged beyond what we can bear. We will be tempted to resist the hand of provision and bargain for the path of ease and stability. Yet our Lord calls us to walk by faith, not by sight. He calls us to see joy in the midst of pain. He calls us to trust when we are falling. He calls us to share love when we want to walk away. He calls us to give our gifts when we want to receive sympathy. He calls us to keep moving when we want to quit. He calls us to be His light when we want to hide in darkness. He calls us to choose joy in the midst of terror and pain.
For years I have heard people say of me, you are so strong. I could never do what you do. You have such faith. You stay so positive. But to believe those words is the impossible task. I simply know a broken life longing for grace. The Lord has blessed me with four beautiful souls to guide and direct toward Him. He has given me a partner to walk this path with hand in hand. He has allowed hardship over my youngest in the form of relentless seizures, severe developmental delays, silent words, complete dependence, physical degeneration and continued fading. He has allowed tremendously hard days and weary tears. He has not allowed me to turn from His care or take my eyes off His goodness. How could I turn from the source of my strength? I see my story as a stumble through disappointment and tragedy splattered with grace and love. I see my story as much forgiveness and little self-pity. I see my story as a calling, not a choice. I see my story as my personal, intricate, known hand print in this world. I see my story as all my own. It is a good story. A story full of provision and blessing and laughter and sharing hearts. And God has not called me to do any more than what His hand has dealt. He has not called me to be a light where another’s name has been placed. He has not called me to be anything but faithful. And in the walk of faith, my duty is to accept the hard road with as much gratitude as I accept the easy blessing. It is to forgive often and love much. It is to seek truth and acknowledge goodness. It is to keep my eyes on Jesus and move forward in confidence for my eternal home.
God does not call all of us to write a book or manage a blog or speak, but He asks all of us to be faithful in the call. That call is uniquely written for each of us. It is as unique as the fingerprints we carry. For at the end of the day, at the end of the season, at the end of the journey, when we meet Jesus face to face, when we get to touch the assaulted hands and experience the holiness of Heaven, it is then and only then our journey will be complete. It is then it will all makes sense. It is then we will no longer care who had the best house, the best friends, the best job and the best life. For our eyes will be set on eternity. Our hearts will be full. Our bodies will be healed. Our faith will be redeemed.
In the waiting of Heaven, I am reminded of II Corinthians 4:18 which says, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Our eternal is coming. For some it will be soon. For some it will be years. But it is coming for every one of us. Let us fix our eyes on our Father who numbers our days and grants more grace than we deserve. Let us cling to the One who gives our strength. Let us focus on living our moments for His glory. Let us move with intention toward those who are desperate for Jesus. Let us turn to our Anchor and hold fast to the One who directs our path in the manner only He knows is best. Let us see beauty in another’s story. Let us praise Him in all things. Let us look with anticipation to the days ahead. They are days we cannot know, but days we can trust to the Father’s hands.
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
Please join us in prayer for our sweet friend Jason and his children Ella, Harper, Lake & Story Jane. Be blessed by Kara’s legacy of faith at http://www.mundanefaithfulness.com and buy her book The Hardest Peace.