Please give them many years.

IMG_1890My friend was radiant, glowing in her white gown, a gorgeous bride. But her physical appearance paled against the backdrop of Christ radiating through her.

She’s one of those rare, costly gems.

We’ve laughed a lot over the last several years. We’ve cried a lot too, processing much grief and grace together. And we’ve dived deep into Jesus.

We’ve also spray painted countless (well 250) wine bottles, and have borne the black, stained hands to prove it. It’s been such a joy to share in the excitement of my friends’ wedding and marriage planning. Such a joy.

The edges of her veil sparkled, the tiny beadwork complemented her dress perfectly. I know the veil well; it has hung in my closet for the last six years. It’s not uncommon that I stop in my tracks and admire the delicate pattern sewn into the tulle, lingering to recall the day it adorned my own hair. Sharing my veil with Bobbi made my heart sing.

Standing behind her, with my hand on her arm, I brushed away tears, while others prayed. It felt like such a privilege to be counted among her closest friends, together bringing her marriage before the throne.

I began to speak, my turn to pray. I thanked God for such dear, beautiful friends, and asked that God be exalted in their marriage, that the gospel of Christ resonate from them. I asked God to grow them in grace and love for one another.

And then I pled  “Lord, please give them many years together.”

A sob caught in my throat. I paused long, willing myself to go on, to push through my own emotions and the collective emotions around me.

My emotion was for her, knowing she has faced the death of both parents, knowing her new husband has leukemia. He has an excellent prognosis, and doctors believe there is no reason he won’t have a long, healthy life. But sill they have faced many unknowns over the last few months.

I don’t want any of my friends to know the reality of a husband dying young. So I pray, “Lord if it be your will, give them many years. Let them grow old and gray together.”

So I suppose my sob was a little bit for me too, There was a moment of grief for the years Jon and I did not have.

But also tied in the tangle of emotions, was another face, a hazel-eyed, six foot two, giant teddy bear who has stolen my heart. I’ve been given another good gift. And I marvel that I am again cherished. So much overwhelming joy!

I have said it before—because of the gospel, joy and sorrow mingle in a beautiful dance. And they danced flawlessly in this poignant moment where time stood still.

I think it’s only when we walk through the deep grief, that we begin to understand how joy and sorrow can complement each other like intricate beadwork against a stunning wedding gown.

So clearly I saw the gospel.

On her wedding day, she was spotless, a dazzling bride, completely ready for her groom. Abundant joy overflowed. But there were still mixed emotions.

She missed her parents.

I missed Jon.

Because we’re caught between the already and the not yet, we miss them. We know we’ll see them again, but still we await eternity. There’s still sorrow because the world is still broken.

But I also saw restoration for my friend and for me. Jesus has given us beauty out of ashes. Ultimately He gives it in Himself, the best gift! He took sorrow, so we have joy. However, in great compassion, He gives beauty in ways that seem more tangible to our finite minds. Our God is that good.

Praise God for abundant, overflowing joy that is deeper, richer, and higher in the face of sorrow. Because of sorrow, joy is richer and peace is deeper. It’s one way He sanctifies.

And one day the mingling will cease. Sorrow will give way to inexplicable joy. And all the tears will be wiped away. He will glorify.

No matter how many earthly years my friends have, eternity awaits! Therefore, I pray confidently, “Give them many years.” Though they’ll no longer be joined in human marriage, they’ll  be a part of the Great Marriage. They’ll have countless years.

And so will I.

As she eagerly anticipated her wedding day, so we long for the Grand Wedding when Christ returns to claim His bride.

It was delightfully happy day. I love weddings.

Though sorrow mingled, it graciously slid to the background, and made room for an explosion of vibrant joy that captivated the fore.

What a foretaste! How we long for the true Groom, with whom the years will be unending!

Come, Lord Jesus. Come


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Anticipating Tomorrow. Looking toward 2015

The countdown began. The ball descended slowly, inching to its destination. 3-2-1! Happy New Year! The room filled with streamers, noise makers, and lingering kisses. He wrapped me in a giant hug, eyes dancing, grinning broadly. When he smiled, his whole face smiled. And of course, he kissed me with gusto. Goodbye, 2012. Hello, 2013!

The trip to the emergency room several days earlier already seemed a fading dream. I stole a tender glance at my husband. Thoroughly alive, passionate, vivacious, charismatic, and definitely goofy; these embodied him. Sure, there’d be valve replacement surgery in the near future, but medication would manage the problem till then. Jon would recover, and we’d go on living, dreaming, and pursuing Christ, worshiping Him together. We expected the trial, but we were ready. God had always taken care of us. He’d see us through this one as well.

But our hearts were light, hopeful, looking toward the new year with anticipation. We’d recently moved to a new home. Jon had started a new job. And we hoped this year God would bring a child.

New Year’s Day I awoke thinking about fresh starts and new beginnings.

“Lord, You’ve brought us so far this year! 2o12 was a year of abundance. I’m so thankful.  Father, in the coming year, consume our hearts with You. More than anything we want You to be magnified. Would You use us for the sake of Your kingdom, Your gospel? We’re hopeful, Lord. We’re excited.”

Fresh Starts. New Beginnings. Hope.

In the middle of the night, less than a month after we greeted the new year with gladness, I lay in a tight ball, clutching my husband’s wedding ring. How does one describe that first horrific night? Shock. Numbness. Nausea. I think there are no adequate words. A single thought repeated endlessly, “Jon died. My husband is dead.” My brain could not process reality.

Hope? Excitement for the future? What future? It died with him.

Or so it seemed.

Almost two years later, at the dawn of 2015, again I look toward the coming year with hope and anticipation.

“But how could that possibly be? You were utterly crushed, your dreams wrenched away, ripped apart like a doll house in a hurricane.”

Yes, that’s true. But remember what I prayed that New Year’s Day. “Consume our hearts with You. More than anything we want You to be magnified.” He has done it. Through tragedy, God was there, meeting me with grace upon grace. Gradually I remembered that I had not also died, and I recalled the One who promises a “future and a hope.”(Jeremiah 29:11)

It was the death of my beloved that caused me to be captivated with Christ. I’m mesmerized by Him, utterly fascinated with Him, and long for eternity with Him. And in this place, there is profound, penetrating, soul satisfaction that this world cannot hope to provide.

It’s an anticipation of things to come, the not yet. I’m looking toward a day when the church will be perfectly united, glorified in heart and mind, rejoicing forevermore, face to face with the One who redeemed it! I wouldn’t have chosen God’s answer, but He faithfully heard the cry of my heart. “Teach us to know You. Lord, be magnified through us.”

With the apostle Paul I’m learning to say, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8 ESV).

Yet I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the second prayer. “Would You use us for the sake of Your kingdom?” If you had known my husband, you’d know this prayer was his heartbeat, even more so than mine. And, oh, how God has granted that desire, multiplying the fruit! Confidently I see God using Jon’s life and death to strengthen marriages, to call a man to preach, to save the life of another heart patient—literally, to push me to things I never would have tried. Through writing, I get to proclaim to thousands that Jesus is hope, that He is life, and that He alone makes reconciliation between God and man!

These are merely glimpses. I know there’s exponentially more than I understand. So, I kneel in awe and humility. For God does not need me or my husband. I cannot add to His sufficiency. When I ask that God be magnified, it’s a prayer that men would ascribe the honor to Him that He already has. T

hrough Christ there are always fresh starts and new beginnings. And He satisfies. How then, could I not face tomorrow with gladness?


This post appeared first at aNew Season Ministries