Note: RC wrote this two days before Denise died.
Though children tend to see “I forgot” as an excuse, the Bible seems to see it as a condemnation. God is good to us from our births, and we forget. We look forward, waiting and wondering if and when God will give us what we want. In so doing we forget that we got to this point by the grace of God, forgetting His sundry deliverances along the way. We accept the status quo as our rightful starting point, and dare the ask the Lord of heaven and earth, “What have You done for me lately?
Death, on the other hand, can be good for the memory. Considering what my life will be like without my wife makes me consider what life was like before she blessed us. Already I am finding myself making what were once simple decisions without the blessing of her wisdom, and feeling the paucity of my own insight. I am already living the wisdom of that aphorism that reminds us we will not miss the water until the well runs dry.
I suspect the solution here is less “preparing” for loss, and more gratitude for what was found. That is, as I face a future without the spiritual wisdom of my bride it is less important that I bank what I can still receive from her, and more important that I give thanks to God for all the wisdom He has bestowed over the years through her. Looking through the gift of her wisdom to the source of that wisdom makes it less likely that I will miss her wisdom while I miss her.
My wife’s greatest fear today as her final days slip away isn’t about herself. That’s what she’s like. She is worried about me and the children. I seek to put her at ease by reminding her that the source of the wisdom she gave our family isn’t her as my wife, but Jesus as my husband. He has been taking care of us through her. When she goes, He will still take care of us.
Years ago as I expressed to my then young bride my heart’s desire that He would bless me soon with the honor of a martyr’s death she understandably asked, “But who will take care of us?” I replied wisely, “The same Man who has been taking care of you all along.” Now I am facing the same truth, that all that we have received through Denise ultimately came from the gracious hand and loving heart of Jesus. And He already died once, and will not die again.
It was the grace of God that gave us all a blessed life in southwest Virginia. Leaving there didn’t mean leaving that blessing. In like manner it was the grace of God that gave us the blessed life of having Denise for a wife and mother. Losing her doesn’t mean losing that grace. It means remembering where it ultimately came from. To confuse God’s means of grace with His grace is to fall into idolatry. To look beyond and through the blessing to its Giver is to understand how our God works through what He has made. God loves me. Where I live, and with whom doesn’t change that but reveals that. My calling is to give thanks.
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