A moment that changed everything

A Moment that Changed Everything

I remember the call.  The disbelief.  The panic of his Father on the other end of the line.  He just walked in and found him like that, unconscious.  I think he's dead, he said.  They are working on him, the EMT’s.  They are doing CPR.  He is giving me a description of all that is happening. I am listening intently, my husband and I are listening on the phone and we are praying. He is calling from his phone because mine is going dead....I am screaming at Justins Dad....don’t let them quit working on my boy!  My mind is racing, I can see it all in my head. We  are disconnected, my phone goes dead.  I am sobbing great breaths, Darrik is there....my boys.  My thoughts are racing, where is Jacob?  Luke is at school he will be home soon. My mind is racing through a thousand scenarios. 

We are back on the phone with Larry, Justin is unresponsive.  He describes whats happening.  I fall to my knees, sick to my stomach in unbelief.  I tell Darrik, call someone to get people praying....calls are going out but I am numb, glued to a phone listening to my ex husband sob and mumble about what is happening.  It all boils down to a moment...time stands still...they are taking my boy away.

Larry says they are still working on him....but I know, it’s been to long.  He says they didnt turn the siren on and somewhere in my mind I know, I just know.  Im gonna throw up.  I stumble to the bathroom and reach out to steady myself pulling the toilet cover down onto my face. I throw up, then reach up to feel the bump rising on my face.

My boys come home, sobbing disbelief fills my home.  We don't know for sure I keep saying, pray for a miracle.  We stand in a circle and pray for a miracle. My husband of twenty years cries beside me.  He who is always strong crumbles, my boys unravel...Larry calls, our boy is gone.  Our son is gone, their brother is gone.  There is no miracle.

The unexpected has happened.  Our world suddenly implodes.  People come, the house is full and calls are made.  I sit. I sit where I always sit, at the kitchen table.  My brain goes into slow motion.  I think I must be dreaming, I long to slap myself awake but I know that is just wishful thinking.  I am awake, this is really happening.  Where is Jesus?  I am screaming inside my head while people play busy all around me.  Quiet whispers, uncomfortable pauses, no one knowing quite what to say. Children sitting among us peculiarly quiet.  Tears running silently down my face.  I need Jesus, I need a scripture....I can't think, i just can’t think. 

Suddenly, they are just there.  In the sea of compassionate and loving faces, they float on the surface.  They bring kleenix and a basket of goodies, packed with the wisom of those that know.  They, whom we had helped five years before when their son had gone on to heaven.  Now, they were here.   Head on shoulders, sobs coming...they don't have answers but they do have hope.  They carry sorrows scars, but they are still among the living.  How, how could you bear this kind of pain?  I can't do it, I tell them.  Yes, yes you can.  The grace will carry you through.

Unexpectedly we share something, something horrible and devastating.  We worship together and then they share a verse as only they could.

57 The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; and merciful and devout men are taken away, with no one considering that the uncompromisingly upright and godly person is taken away from the calamity and evil to come [even through wickedness].
2 He [in death] enters into peace; they rest in their beds, each one who walks straight and in his uprightness.  
Isaiah 57:1-2

Immediately I question how that verse can fit my son’s situation, a struggling drug addict that loved God and died with a needle in his arm.  He wasn't righteous...and then clearly I hear Jesus whisper in my soul...My righteousness is enough, Justin was clothed in my righteousness.  He died a sinner saved by grace. 

I sigh, I breathe again.  My son, rescued from the evil to come.  This I can wrap my mind around, this I can hold unto.  These fellow strugglers, these friends, planted the hope needed to survive this first initial shock. 

Sleep came, fitful tear filled sleep and as soon as I began to rise to the surface of lucidity I am jolted awake by reality.  Anxiety crashes in and with my heart beating, palms sweating I rise and thus begins a long journey of choices.  We choose, and by we I mean us.  Those who are left behind to struggle through the pain that can't be healed, the grief that paints everyday with new meaning. 

The redemptive work of Christ is often a violent work.  Desolate, desert times and brutal times of attack fill the stories of real life people from the Bible.  Shipwrecks, beatings, fear, isolation and false accusations preceed victory throughout the Bible.  Our own Jesus through death brought Victory over death.  Pain is never wasted in scripture but used to bring forth growth, establish trust in His goodness and propel us to new victories.  You see life will never be perfect, but God is.  My life will never be perfect, that much has become clear.  

On that day our somewhat perfect life became marked by sorrow.  Paths changed, pummeled by tragedy our lives were reshaped.  Where we had been filled with hope for Justins future and dread for the possible consequences of his struggle in and out of addiction there was now only loss. Hope gone.

And so we journeyed on.  We stayed planted in the community of faith and Jesus wore the flesh of friends and family.  They shared our pain and gave us grace and space to grieve.  They shared their stories, listened patiently to ours, brought meals, wrote cards, shared scripture and sat for hours around our kitchen table.  Sometimes, in the darkest moments they let me scream and sob...gave me permission to unravel and be angry, but they never let me set up camp in that dark place. 

Along the journey there have been treasures in the darkness.  I had to search for them, dig deep to find them.  Things that could only be learned through painful experiences.  To teach me that I don't need greater understanding, what I really need is greater trust. To teach me that I can praise louder than the pain and when I praise in the midst of the pain it reveals the wonder of the empowering grace of God for others to see...I learned it's never just about me.  To teach me that heaven is my home, not this earth and so I hold on loosely to this world. 

God is not the author of the hell that permeates this earth, but He is the redeemer of it all: the one who turns it all to our good. He is using what the enemy intends for our defeat instead to make us stronger, more compassionate and more invested in heaven.  To create warriors for His Kingdom, that are fearless because they know this is not their home.  To create warriors who don't ask why anymore, but just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  I am no warrior but I am stronger than ever. 

He uses the most painful experiences to be the birthplace of our deepest passion and most profound encounters with God. My son was rescued, his greatest moment happened at the same time that I suffered my greatest loss. The pain has never left, subsided but never left.  

Life is valuable because it ends, life is valuable because it is a precurser to real life.  We are created to be conquerers but victory always involves a bloody battle.  Sometimes it is physical and sometimes it is a mental battle but it is a daily battle one way or the other.  There is so much beauty to be seen and sometimes it shines even brighter in the dark.  

I wish I was all better, I wish my life hadn't crumbled into a million pieces but I can't change what has happened only how I react, how I am changed by what has happened.  I haven't done it perfectly but I have done my best.  Five years later I am still untangling the pain, still examining my complicated relationship with my God and hoping for Gods best possible outcome for my life despite my human frailty.  I am still fighting for hope every day of my life, still fighting to live my life with joy, still fighting to believe the best is possible, fighting for my dreams and most of all fighting for a chance to bring glory to God in the midst of this lovely, brutiful life.

For the most part I find happiness in the "new things".  In the new grandbaby coming, in the new friendships, in the new me, in the new art and in the new life that is slowly being laid out before me step by step.  I am no warrior, just a fighter and I am a believer in hope.

Thanks  for joining me on this journey.  Be encouraged, we can each survive the worst and find hope, healing and joy.  Dig deep, search hard and hold on to hope.  I still believe it is going to be a great next chapter.


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