Friday, August 5, 2011

Grace Gifts

We welcome him home today with banana pudding
and pork chop sandwiches. Some of his

And we give thanks that after this year of cancer, and the recent surgery, we’re once again all under one roof. Tomorrow Jerry’s daughter, Mari, will join us, and she will do for her dad what she does so well—practice the art and skill she has as a physical therapist to help him heal.

Because of insurance changes these past few years, we’ve had to use a hospital other than the one where I had my children and where I was treated for cancer. But, again, because of insurance changes, Jerry returned to that hospital to have his knee replaced. Somehow, it comforts me to remember when I faced health challenges that just a few floors up, I’d seen the faces of my babies for the first time, and held them in my arms.

In a hospital setting, I’m often reminded of the transience of life, having experienced myself the passing of loved ones as well as having been with others when cherished loved ones died. 

Also, here in this particular hospital, when the elevator doors open on the first floor, I see directly in front of me at eye level a memorial for my husband’s daughter who died in an elevator accident in a relative’s home at only eight years old.

Life is so fragile. I grieve again for this little girl I never knew whose precious face graces almost every room in our home, and serves as a constant reminder of her sweet short life. 

The memorials for her at the hospital (there is more than one) helped provide resources for expansion of the facility shortly after her passing. For a time, the tragedy almost killed her dad as well; his piercing grief was so profound. But exactly two years from the date of her death, he gave his life wholly to the God he has served now for more than thirty years. First as a lawyer turned seminary student, and twenty-five years as a pastor.

Years ago, Gloria Gaither wrote lyrics about how all we hold for sure is this present time. The number of our days here are uncertain. Oh, how right she is. All the more reason to be grateful for these hallowed moments together as a family.

Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts quotes Chesterton:
Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another
Why am I allowed two?

Having lost a sister at four years old, Ann wonders about her own son’s being rescued from a near tragic accident while just down the road another young boy died. She says, “Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God. That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective, the way the eyes see the shadows. Above the clouds, light never stops shining.”

In part due to the departure of that little girl who took a piece of her daddy’s heart to heaven with her, Jerry is a pastor today. He has told his story to countless others, and I’ve watched at how God has used his tragedy to touch many. Over the past thirty years, thousands in prisons, and homeless shelters, and churches, and camp meetings, and revivals have given their lives to Jesus.

Ann Voskamp again, “All new life labors out of the very bowels of darkness,” and “It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace.” 

We’ll eat our banana pudding and pork chop sandwiches and remember they are grace gifts. We’ll laugh and share stories and watch his bionic leg take miraculous steps. We’ll gather, one short, and give thanks for this blessed time.

Though our days here are uncertain, what is to come is lasting and permanent. 

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

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