‘Do not be afraid. Stand your ground’. Exodus 14:13
A week ago, our community lost someone unexpectedly and I am reeling…..still…. reeling. She was 37 and a mother to three amazing young daughters, one of which is in Betty’s class and plays on her basketball team. We team taught Sunday school and she was a PILLAR in our church’s infrastructure especially when it came to the family side of things. She was always smiling and pure joy to be around. She was good, very good.
Yesterday in our ‘Children of the Day’ study, Beth Moore said you should feel nurtured by God. And I have to say I am not feeling very nurtured at this moment. Honestly, I feel a little forsaken. Beth said God is like a dad and sometimes you need to crawl up in His lap and cry the day away. From the moment Jill’s service started, that is just what Betty did. She cried and cried and I almost exploded from how tender her little heart is. Why do these things happen? Who decides it is our time to go?? Why now? I can’t help but feel like we are always a breath away from disaster, from grief, from loss. Why is life so scary sometimes? I am searching for some sort of answer and there isn’t one. Because it is not AN answer I want. It is THE answer. That voice I have talked about. I want it to boom down and say THIS WILL NOT BE YOU. You will not get left behind. Your children will live to be 115 and DEVASTATION WILL NOT COME TO YOU. YOU ARE SAFE.
Before Sunday school this past week, I suddenly realized those sweet ladies might very well be there. I prayed for the right words to come, to teach the right lesson, to hold it together. Would we cry? Would we hug? Would we talk about their loss? It was Jill’s Sunday to teach and I was not prepared. They were there. I opened the worksheet and we talked about the Egyptians and the chariots and Moses crying out to God and the sea parting and that no matter your situation, you can call upon God and He will be with you. We did not cry. We did not talk about loss or death or grief. We played musical chairs and laughed and almost got kicked off of Haney Street and we chanted DO NOT BE AFRAID. STAND YOUR GROUND!!!!
Jill Ann Barrett is in Heaven, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but the gaping hole she left here is so exposed and tender right now it is almost as if it is hard to breathe, impossible to even fathom. I did not grow up with her. I did not graduate high school with her but she was part of our church family. When you lose a church friend, you lose one of your own. Your heart flails about and breaks into a million pieces just as if she was your very own sister, because she was.
Our Pastor told us that in the wake of her death, the day after, her husband and three daughters held hands in a circle and vowed that they will make it. Vowed to survive and to carry on. Life goes on. The beat goes on. You breathe in and out and move forward somehow. You fill that empty space with love and gratitude and joy. You realize that life will come to an end for us all. You remind yourself that what Jill would want, what her husband and children want….. is for her legacy to live on, her good works and warm smiles to continue. She is with us firmly saying GET UP, PRESS ON, LIVE LIFE,
DO NOT BE AFRAID. STAND YOUR GROUND.