Thursday, April 26, 2012
"At the Statue of Jesus, turn left."
As more decades descend upon my timeline, my confusion about the perfect randomness of God, as He demonstrates His all-knowingness, does not unravel, but remains tightly wound, safely bound by trust. I often do not know how or why His will is what it is, and my clarity remains unclear on the entire "God allows" issue. I only know He does . . . and He knows why. And I trust. God is not random. God is God.
This is, after all, His world, not mine; in His hands, not mine; His creation . . . not mine. No matter what I have to say about this world, He spoke it into existence. And, in a world always about to burst under the weight of its collective people's single wills . . . He hears each prayer and gasp and He does His will.
In His all-knowingness, He knows there are things I would do differently, but God only knows . . . and yes He does . . . that my decisions, sugar-coated, would be self-loaded, no matter how hard I would try. I just wouldn't "know" the consequences, or the missed potentials. This is where the allowing comes in for me. Sometimes I do what I think is best, which He no doubt knows is not . . . but He allows, for His purposes. But, if the decades continue to pile up, perhaps I will be closer to knowing God . . . and better able to know His knowing.
This past week, if I were God, I would have given Charity Hope Hadick two aspirin, told her to go to bed and call me in the morning, and she would have awakened with a baby to feed, a to-do list to do and . . . and a long life to live. No pain. Instead, God, in His knowledge, and for reasons yet to be better known to the less-knowing, chose for Charity Hope to wake up with Him. No pain.
When I got the word that Charity, a young wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and no-doubt someone's best friend forever, was in the ICU, I, like most, focused on the miraculous. The hands of surgeons, the technology of modern medicine, the desire of God as a great Healer . . . and I prayed. One of thousands who prayed and prayed and sought for the will of God to be aligned with the will of those who knew and loved her. God knew; God heard; God knows; God does what God does.
In this instance, God took Charity home. And then God does what God does so well. He hears the inner groanings of the tired and the lonely and he hears the sighs of broken hearts and he sees the weeping and the sorrow . . . and He comforts and He heals and He takes the downtrodden and He lifts them slowly up in tenderness, carefully and calmly because He knows that even when we know He works His perfect will, we hurt. As much as we trust and picture that greater purpose, we are . . . and He knows this too . . . very human. Part of our heart rejoices while the other part recoils in pain.
I didn't really know Charity very well, but I knew about her from a father who took and shared enough photos of her and her siblings to wallpaper this world our God created. I had only a few short and polite conversations with her, a couple here at our house, the rest at Black-family shared celebrations where she was often the one laughing or dancing or teasing with what seemed to be endless energy. I did not know her like those who truly love her. A husband who is empty because his wholeness has divided; a baby who will never know the fullness of the blessings his mother had in mind for him. A daddy who pushed her in a swing and walked her down an aisle. A mother who kissed her fuzzy head as a baby and later held the baby of her baby. A sister who must long for another sibling spat. A brother who would like to chase her around a room again. A family who would like to sit at a table, bow their heads and pray and then launch into conversation overload. A husband who is empty because his wholeness has divided; a baby who will never know the fullness of the blessings his mother had in mind for him.
I didn't really know Charity Hope. But God did . . . and God does.
I wish we had not -- we humans -- brought the sin of loss into the world. When God created us, it was to be with Him and with each other. He didn't want us to be alone. Eternity was not just a follow-up idea. Ultimately, of course, we won't be alone; we will all be together -- those us us who know Christ -- forever, in eternity. And while it seems to take so long to get there . . . Charity already is. At some point, it becomes that next moment . . . the forever one.
I guess if there is anything to be gained when a loved one leaves too soon, it is the moment of reflection that can lead to restoration with the loved ones still here. Reconciliation sometimes finds fuel in grief. Words that should be said salve the wounds of words that never should have been. Mourning leads to movement in places where there seemed to be no hope.
Perhaps more plaguing a sin of loss than even this temporary separation is the sin of loss we live with every day. That's the one -- God knows -- that I wish I could do something about. All that "living loss." Parents who don't have their children; children who don't want their parents. Marriages that fall apart. Friends that part. Consequences of words and actions that sever relationships; withheld forgiveness that allows the scars to remain.
I have never experienced a loss like the family of Charity Hope is enduring. But I know the sin of loss and the sting of separation and the stubbornness of resistance to reconciliation. Somewhat like a family sitting in a waiting room, I hope. And . . . God knows.
When I went to the hospital to visit Charity's parents, dear friends who have been there for me in darker times, I stopped at the front desk to find my way. It was a Sunday morning and no one was there; just a phone. I picked it up and dialed for information; told then who I needed to see . . . and the voice on the other end said, "Do you see the statue of Jesus? At the statue of Jesus, turn left."
And I found my way.
I don't know where I would have ended up if I had turned right at the statue of Jesus. It doesn't really matter. It was just a statue. A symbol of Christ, arms extended in welcome. Like the real Christ who welcomed Charity home. When you come to the cross, there is only one direction.
I wish these reminders of the frailty of life would make us more aware of the frailty of the living and that we would work harder to restore our relationships, love our neighbors, heal each other's wounds and bear each other's burdens. That we would love more and forgive more and forget more and rebuild more. That we would judge less and hurt less and criticize less and reject less. That we would guide and provide and not lead astray and divide.
That we would practice less the sin of loss.
(Charity Hope Black Hadick left her home in Oklahoma City and entered heaven April 24, 2012. She was 21 and died only a couple of days after doctors discovered a tumor in her brain. Charity was married to Brahk Hadick and was the mother of seven-month-old Gabriel. She was the daughter of Stephen and Robin Black, the sister of Mandy and John, the aunt of Michaela . . . and forever a precious child of God.)