Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If this were the first time, I would have been astounded. But it was not the first time. I can’t even remember how many times it’s been that I have been absolutely engulfed in the reality that God has worked all things to reveal His love to me. Please forgive how this sounds- that it’s all about me. It’s not. It’s about revealing an example of the depth and individual design of God’s love for each one of us by revealing an intimate moment between God and me. (This is so not easy for me to do.)
A week ago today was the second anniversary of my brother’s death. My brother was the most precious man. He was an autistic savant. You might not know what that means but it’s basically Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, an old classic movie. Jay had a brain that worked in extremely superior ways than the average person in one or two areas. Simultaneously he had many mental and emotional limitations that the average person doesn’t have. He was my older brother. I didn’t know life without Jay. He was so close to my heartbeat, especially in his last two years on earth, that he wasn’t out of my thoughts for more than an hour of any day. During those days and weeks, he was quite ill and had suffered great loss. He was broken, tired and weary. He was Jay, unlike any other, and I love him so, so deeply. I miss him with a chronic ache, engulfed in peace knowing that he is now whole for the first time in his life, in heaven with our parents and Jesus.
My father’s favorite song was How Great Thou Art. He loved that song so much that I came to love it as well, because I love him so much. Daddy went to be with his Savior way back in 1990, followed shortly thereafter by my mom in 1992. They were both way too young. Every day I miss them. Every day I feel so blessed to have had them as my parents. My sister and I feel exactly alike in these things. We know that we are blessed people to have had our parents and our precious brother, Jay.
It was about 10 in the morning, in the hospital, September 1, 2011. My sister, my husband and I were all there for Jay. My husband turned to me and said, “Isn’t that your dad’s favorite song?” It was indeed. I had been playing Chris Rice’s CD of old hymns, that a dear friend had given me years before. And I was listening now, How Great Thou Art. I looked at my brother, lying comatose in the bed, and said, “Daddy, please welcome Jay home.” At that very moment, Jay breathed out for the last time.
And so he did- welcome him home. What a special memory. What an incredible gift to have such a moment as this to remember.
Last Sunday on the anniversary of Jay’s death, I had an extremely relaxing afternoon, thanks to some incredibly wonderful women who had given me a gift when Jay died. I had held onto this gift until it was time to use it and yes, it was time. But I had also felt badly that I had not woken up early enough Sunday morning, having had very little sleep, to make it to church. I was glad to be going back today.
We have a new worship leader. He began the service singing the doxology. I haven’t heard the doxology sung in our home church before. I used to sing it as a child, every Sunday, when I was in an anglican church. This morning, the doxology whisked me back to the days of my childhood church, with my family there, my brother singing very loud and off the beat and everyone loving that Jay was in the house. Then we had scripture readings and responses. Again, this is such a reminder of earlier days with my dad and my mom in our Episcopal church. We just don’t do readings and responses in our mega church with bands and contemporary praise music in a warehouse. Honestly, this morning, I was caught up in this refreshment of days gone by, thanking God for the comfort of memories and heritage, thinking of my dad and my brother. And then we moved on to our next song.
How Great Thou Art. Of course. Of course! Lord, You waited a week. You took me back there, to my family, to my father, to my brother and the moment of his death. You engulfed me with Your love. You held me close. You met me right where it hurts and You showed me that I am not alone, I will never be alone. Tears ran down my face. I couldn’t even sing. I just was so wrapped in God’s grace and sensitivity- the doxology, the scripture readings with responses, the song. It was all about my father, my brother, my heart. It was all about the Creator of the universe seeing one individual person, nothing going unnoticed, nothing missed or forgotten, and reaching across eternity to say I love you.
This wasn’t about coincidence. I’ve learned through the years of walking with my Savior that these things are not coincidences. He says we will know His voice and so we can. I know this voice. I’ve heard it so often. I felt His presence. I felt, in that moment, His love, His eyes on me, witnessing me, knowing full well He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and that He witnesses every single one of us.
When we have ears to hear and when our eyes have been opened by spending time with Him, we know that we know that we know when He is speaking to us, when He is giving us that special kind of attention and depth of love that can come from none other. This was one of those times. His love has no limits and His love has no bounds. (Matthew 13: 16-17)
Takeaway: God is watching us, all the time (Psalm 121), ready to reveal His profound and personal love to us. He is our greatest witness and the lover of our souls. He is no respecter of persons. None of us are His “favorite”. We are all His favorite. His desire, as any good parent, is to fill us with the knowledge of the depths of His love. He longs to spend time with us and be with us and have us know who He is.
Prayer: Father, open the eyes of my heart that I might see you. Open me to seeing your love for me. Seeing your love for me will cause me to love you all the more, as Your word says. Lord, i want to know you more. Thank You for loving me. Please reveal Your love to me.