I've received many emails, comments, phone calls, and cards sharing your sympathy in my mom's passing, so I wanted to post how I've been doing...and what God's been doing.
You may know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the book of Daniel. These three God-lovin' guys refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, so the King ordered them to be bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. In a fit of rage, Nebuchadnezzar demanded the furnace to be heated 7 times hotter than normal.
I'm a cold-booded girl and love the heat. Before my sweaty M came home, I used to drive with my heat on full blast and never turn it down until I arrived at my destination. Nevermind that my eyeballs would dry out and my fingertips catch on fire. I loved the almost-oppressive feel of the heat surrounding me. When I think of heat in terms of the trials in life, however, I'd prefer the thermostat to be set much lower. You know, cool and comfortable...like San Diego weather.
Sometimes we have little control over the things that heat up our lives...unforeseen financial troubles, debilitating illnesses, unfaithful spouses, untimely deaths of loved ones. They simply engulf us like vicious flames and leave us gasping for air...and just when we think we can't take any more, the heat is turned up like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.
"I have a tumor in my lung."
I feel the heat.
"The cancer has spread to my brain."
"He told me to go home and prepare for hospice."
"Tish, she's gone."
How much hotter, Lord?
Back to the book of Daniel...the three men were thrown into the fiery furnace but, when the King looked inside it, he saw not three but four figures! The consensus of most Bible scholars is that the fourth figure was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Jesus was there in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Yes, God allowed them to go through the fire, but He did not allow them to go through it alone.
I have read Philippians 4:7 many times and wondered about this peace which "surpasses all understanding." I know that this side of Heaven I'll never be able to comprehend the ways of an infinite God; however, I do know that He has been covering me in a peace that I have never felt before. During the week following my mother's death I found myself repeatedly asking Him, "Is this what your peace which surpasses understanding feels like?" This doesn't mean that there hasn't been (and will continue to be) grief...the deep grief of loss that mercilessly entangles itself around your heart and brings that heavy sense of ache. Yes, the grief has been present, but it has been overshadowed by His steady and faithful outpouring of peace.
I believe, in my case, this peace has come through the power of His Word and its unshakeable truth. Before I knew God, I would say something like "Oh, he/she is in a better place now" when someone passed away. I didn't know what I meant by that statement or that I even believed it. Just exactly where was that place and why was it better? It simply sounded like the right thing to say. Now, however, I lean on His words and the truths that they convey.
I know with confidence that
My mother was reconciled to God through her faith in Jesus.
Because of that, she is now in heaven with Jesus.
Heaven is a FAR better place.
She is not mourning her death.
She may have wondered "why me?" while on this earth, but now she has clear understanding.
I will see her again.
And back to Daniel one more time...when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came out of the furnace, they were not charred, singed, or burned. In fact, they didn't even smell of smoke. The only thing that had been destroyed by the fire? The ties that bound them. (Cool, huh?...but that's a whole other post by itself). Needless to say, King Nebuchadnezzar was astounded when he witnessed this. However, I love that the King did not say, "I will worship you, you flame-retardant fellows" or "All bow to the heat-resistant ones!"
No, he did not praise the men. Instead He praised the God of the men.
My God has been faithful. Jesus has not only walked through the fire with me, but He has carried me the entire way. Join me in praising Him!
This song has been my comfort food: ANCHOR OF MY SOUL
(Ooops, seems like this link isn't working. The song is by Telecast if you are interested in hearing it.)
And...because my mom would have shuddered at the thought of a post without photos....i'm still practicing, practicing, practicing...