I wrote this blog as I traveled to Phoenix this past weekend. I finished this on the flight back to San Antonio. This was my first time to meet the kids and the incredible friends that supported Ginger over the past 14 months. It was an emotional weekend which began with a trip to the Troy Gilbert Memorial Bridge. Seeing his name written in brass was overwhelming to me. I saw a physical reminder of what it cost for me to be there. I entered the lives of the five wonderful children, each so very special, each a gift from God, conceived in love, once the center of Troy’s life. I watched as the twins celebrated their second birthday. Ginger and I took Boston to soccer practice and watched Greyson play basketball. I heard Bella call me daddy and seek out my affection. I tucked her into bed and tried to answer her question, “If God made everything, who made God?” I stood and held Ginger’s hand as we worshiped with the families that prayed over Troy before he deployed and never returned. I felt the pain they all experienced when they learned of Troy’s death.
I thought of Troy as this was his place. I thought of Andrea as this was her dream. I thought of Ginger and I as this is our life. I was humbled to be given such a gift and such a responsibility. Who am I to be showered with such blessings twice in my lifetime? I thought of my boys and my desire for all of us to be a family. I prayed Nic and Anthony would know I entered this new life believing God’s plan is for them as much as it is for Ginger and me. I pray they know Ginger has been called to love them as I know I am called to love Ginger’s children. I hope my boys know I do not run from them but desire to bring them along into our new family. What I seek is for us all to become a family, not two separate families but a continuum of a family. We understand the pain they have suffered in losing their mother and father and that Ginger and I offer all we have to help each of them understand the pain they face both now and in the future.
It is a dark and scary place we went to grieve. Hopeless grief is the natural place to go when you lose a spouse and a young age. Hardly any effort is required to fall into that pit. Just a step and gravity takes over. Before you know, you’re falling into the darkness and that natural pit becomes your home. In a cruel twist you soon find that getting out of that pit takes far more effort then falling into it. You fall in effortlessly but you struggle to climb out.
At this time is when you feel God’s provision; when those around you who come to met you in the pit. Or even better when they drop a line and climb down to rescue you. They accept the risk that if you fall they fall with you. Life is no longer isolated. There is a hand on yours and a word of encouragement in your ear.
I think of our God who reminds us He is the faithful One. Though, at times, His words were drowned out by the grief and His promises hidden in the darkness. His voice was masked by the ripping sound as what was one is torn in two. Strands woven separately into a single cord now torn apart. A foundation once secure is now shaken. Certainties are now doubted. Life’s promises now in question. Children’s questions no longer answered with a simple promise, “It will all be okay.” A child’s simplistic view of life is taken and left with an incomprehensible void. Their minds ill-equipped to handle such truths as death. They are robbed of the gradual realization that life is hard and far crueler then fairy tales. To be a kid, and lose a parent is to be caught between two worlds. A world of total security and a world of scary uncertainty. A world their friends do not understand or even know exists.
As a grieving spouse you find your life is spinning out of control. Your mind entertains thoughts you would have never allowed. Life seems not worth living, as life offers nothing of value. Satan torments you with a plausible solution to end your suffering. As life seems to offer no escape and only in our own death could we find relief. Ginger clearly remembers flying on airplanes wishing the plane would go down taking their lives. These are not suicidal thought but an expression of total hopelessness.
However, God tells us He never leaves us or forsakes us.
More then any other verse, these words come into question when life offers no light but only darkness. How can God be in this? How can such a feeling of hopelessness exist if He is with us? In the midst of this suffering there are no answers. The only solution is to take God at His Word. Though God may seem silent or his voice barley a whisper this is the place where God draws nearest to us.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Is a willingness to run the race the same as running it?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Is the idea of following Christ and taking up your cross the same as exchanging your own dreams and desires for His?
"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Is there a part of our life we fear God will ask us to give up? Is there a part of our life we hold in reserve? Do you know if God asks you to do something He will provide all you need to do it?
Do you know the only thing you will regret is the part of you that you do not give to God? That no matter how hard you hold on or how much effort you put into your own life it will never equal what God can do in you. He awaits your willingness to trust Him. He longs to take you into a relationship with Him that will exceed you wildest dreams.
I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
After talking about our journeys of pain Ginger and I discovered we had both written scriptures on 3x5 index cards to reference when we were hungry for words of hope. God’s Word supplied our needs when this world offered no relief from our pain.
We threw ourselves at the foot of the cross because we could not solve the questions that exists between a mysterious yet loving God and our lives here on earth.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts declares the LORD.
We accepted the gift of Christ’s shed blood and we entered into a relationship with our loving Father. Will not the same God who loved us before we were saved love us that much more as His children? Would He provide the answer for your salvation and leave us incapable to deal with life? Was His gift some cruel joke? We should not fear what you can not do, for God does not ask us to succeed by our own abilities. That would only point to us. May in our victories people only see Christ’s love and provision. But in a life laid down He sees the canvas of a surrendered heart where He begins to paint His masterpiece. And His promise is it will not be left incomplete.
Hebrews 12 :2
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Ginger and I praise God as we stand in awe as we watch the Master at work in our lives, and we await the reveling of His masterpiece called our family.