Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Death to Life

I found this post on my old facebook notes, and by some crazy coincidence, two years later- in Dallas!- it's snowing on the same day. Maybe it's more than coincidence and God is speaking the same beautiful words to me (He does that, sometimes. I'm a bit like a sheep and need reinforcement.) So here it is:

Today is a special day for me. Seven years ago, my dad died of cancer. As I was looking out the window this morning I realized that it made sense that today the world is covered in white. Such a hard cold that seems to kill everything in its path followed by a beautiful, silent blanket of beauty; this is how God has worked in my life. When my dad was sick and I began to have experiences I was not yet able to process or even handle, I lost my ability to function. When he died, I remember feeling like I was dying too, or that a large part of me had died. The winter storm had left me bare and broken.

Then, in the years following, it began to snow. God was gently wrapping me in a protective blanket of white, covering my brokenness with His beauty- putting His glory and His love on display in my season of heartache. As I learned to walk with Him through my season of grief, I began to understand what Jesus meant by "blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". A blessing filled with pain- to know intimately and experientially the loving, comforting arms of my Savior- to learn to trust and "live in" His love more deeply through an experience of seemingly unbearable sorrow. And oh, to come out on the other side!

Spring always follows winter. Spring, which bathes the world in the splendor of new life is only made possible by the death that precedes it. God prepares the earth for the new work He is doing by removing the old, tired life and then nourishing it to return fresh and new and full of color. The death I experienced in my heart was real and necessary- God killed my sense of control, my false idol of a comfortable life, and most painfully, my worship of self. How gracious that even in the process- in the middle of winter- He covered my deadness and displayed His goodness by covering me, protecting me, cleansing me in His beautiful white. And He has tenderly cultivated new life inside me, bringing forth a joy and fruitfulness with an array of color I would have never though possible of my once-dead heart. The loss of life I experienced made room for a new passion: a passion for the God whose story is much bigger than mine, the God who "turns mourning into dancing" and who can make out of ordinary, broken people "a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."

The most beautiful piece of this story is that this new passion is a seed my father planted in me on the day of his diagnosis. He and my mother said to our family that day, "we have decided that whether I live or die, we want my life to give glory to God". He and my mother honored that commitment, and gave themselves to that desire. In it, my father lost his life. With my old heart, I couldn't understand: what God is this, that my father so willingly would give up his life? His dream of raising six children was given back to the God who gave him the children in the first place. Now that I have seen the goodness of God for myself, I can begin to understand. Living in the light of Jesus and great story is so much more rewarding and full than living it for myself. Today, I thank my father for being willing to give himself to teach me what he may have never been able to by living- Daddy, thank you for helping save my life by giving yours away.

1 comment:

ugrey said...

Hannah,

I am just about speechless again. I also have a few tears. I am afraid I don't understand this near as well as you do. I trust God, but I miss my friend, and I see so many holes in so many lives.

Uncle