Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Embracing Life!

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him."
Romans 12:1 The Message 

When Brad died at age 51 after battling with cancer, I couldn’t imagine living life without him. His death shattered all my dreams and expectations for my life. I didn’t even want to imagine my future without him.

The first two years after Brad’s death were the hardest. I would sometimes awaken in the middle of the night wondering why I had to leave behind my married life. We had built such a strong and lasting relationship that was good and full of love. To be honest...I felt frustrated and even a bit resentful in having to give up even the most routine and ordinary aspects of our life together.

During this time I prayed constantly and depended completely on Jesus to help me adjust to my new life. With each passing day I became more aware of God’s provisions and faithfulness. I felt closer to God and began to accept some of the changes I had at first resented. Inside my pain-filled grief, a deeper and richer relationship with Jesus was born.

It was during the third and fourth year after Brad’s death that I became even more accustomed to my new life. During these years I often heard people say how they saw me as being very strong in my faith and resilient in adversity. To God’s glory alone. I knew it was all God’s strength and resilience they were seeing, not my own.

In fact, I was still struggling with a deep sense of grief during this time. Only the Lord saw how I had secretly tucked inside my heart the tinges of frustration and resentment I had felt from the beginning. I still resented being forced to give up the life I once loved.

Oh, I may have seemed to others as having adjusted to all the changes in my life; but I still wanted my old life back. I knew it was irrational and impossible. I knew I needed to let it go...but I loved my life with Brad so much more than I liked my life without him.

All it would take was one of our special dates or an anniversary approaching on the calendar and I would automatically withdraw and become overwhelmed with sadness. Every year without fail, I would toss aside all God had accomplished in me without really looking at it. I focused instead on what God had allowed to be taken from me. Every year, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I often didn’t know what to pray. So I didn’t. I just cried.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves...”
Romans 8:26-27a  The Message 

This year, the fifth anniversary of my husband’s death was different. This was the first time since my husband’s death that the weeks leading up to it I didn’t live in dread. For the first time since Brad’s death, I felt the chains of grief that had shackled my heart, finally drop to the ground. I finally felt free to completely embrace life again.

So what changed?

Over the years of Brad’s illness and death, The Lord has been teaching me that everything about life is an opportunity to worship God. The world and our own nature has us wanting to hold onto what we have been given. It’s hard for us to imagine why God would give us a special gift, only to ask us to release it, instead of allowing us to keep it.

I remember back when I pleaded with God not to allow Brad to die. I even reminded Him how grateful I was for giving me something as special and beautiful as my marriage with Brad. I also remember God saying He loved Brad too. And than He asked me if I would give Brad to Him. At first I was stunned He would ask such an impossible thing. Then, I did the unimaginable...I released Brad as my offering to God.

As I neared the fifth anniversary of Brad’s death, God asked me to give Him what I had been gripping tightly onto since Brad’s death. So I unlocked my heart and released my treasured grief to God. As an act of worship, I gave all my sorrow to God as an offering.

Take your everyday, ordinary life...and place it before God as an offering.”

What has God been teaching you in your season of grief?

Is there something God is asking you to release as an offering?

Perhaps like me, you have been grieving for several years and wondering if it will ever end. If so, may I encourage you to lay your grief before God as an offering? Trust Him. I have a feeling one day soon you will see how God took your offering of loss and turned it into gain. His love can do the most amazing things. Glory!

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
~ Philippians 3:7-8



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