As I have been sharing over recent months, there has been a lot of reminiscing going on in our family these days as we deal with my dad’s slow decline due to dementia. When we cleaned a room in my parents house and came across things from our Little Cottage in Maine, it made me nostalgic for the past. When losing a loved one it makes you reflect not only upon their whole life but your own as well, as they are so deeply intertwined as parents and children.
Most people who know me have heard my story about falling at Zion National Park off Hidden Canyon Trail. I just came across something my brother wrote about it at a time I needed a gentle reminder of God’s grace and mercy and constant presence. It happened on February 17, 2002 and I turned 26 on the 22nd. (Let me save you the math…I’m 39!) My family had a birthday party for me and it was more of a celebration of my life and being alive than just another birthday.
My brother was writing devotionals at the time and my dad printed this out and taped it to a present they got me.
This is what my dad wrote.
“In the future, your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you can tell them, ‘they remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a permanent memorial.” Joshua 4:6-7
Lindsey, I am always encouraged when I look back and remember the many times, and the many ways God was with us. Cameron’s letter is a wonderful pile of stones in your life sent by God to remember how much God, your friends, and family love you!
Here is my what my brother wrote and I will leave it at this because it’s powerful on it’s own.
This past weekend was an eye opener for me. Many of you know my sister was in a severe fall. She was hiking alone in Zion National Park in Utah, when she slipped and fell knocking herself unconscious. But in a 10,000 square mile park towards the end of the day when rock climbers were going home to get out of the cold before the sun set…where only a few hundred individuals had entered that day while everyone was a few hours to north enjoying the winter Olympics…someone was close enough to hear my sisters fall. Not by coincidence, but by our fathers design. She fell down in to a ravine/canyon and it took more than ten minutes to get to her.
One gentlemen held her head and applied pressure to stop the bleeding from the open wound in her head. The other went and got the search and rescue team. Several hours later, Lindsey was in the ambulance for the one-hour drive to the nearest hospital in Saint George Utah.
Upon arrival, a cat scan was done and the results showed she was going to need surgery. With no neurologists or brain surgeons on staff, a jet staffed with medical personnel was brought in to fly her to Last Vegas. My sister is doing much better now. Though she is bruised, aching and immobile with several staples holding her scalp together, she is alive. Praise God Almighty, she is alive. And on that Sunday afternoon, though no one could be seen around, she was not alone roaming around in God’s creation. She had a guardian angel.
There are two things I have seen here. You see believed, though we may feel it, we are not alone. Our God, the one true Abba Father, the Endless of Days is by our side each step of the way. We may not always see him or recognize him being there, but his spirit is with us watching over us. And because of that, there is not coincidence that in a huge park, with seemingly no one else around, someone heard my sister cry out as she fell many feet into a canyon.
Nevertheless, the miracle of a physical life being saved is not the only thing that has taken place. This has been a reminder to me, as well as my family, that time is not in our control. When the potential of Lindsey’s life being cut short presented itself, my mind thought of the missed opportunities. Have we shared with Lindsey how much we love her, how much she is a part of our life? How much joy I feel watching her be a loving auntie to Christian and Cianah. How their faces light up when they talk about her. How proud I am of her that through trial and tribulation, she has persevered. That though she may feel weak, she is a strong woman who can overcome. How she is independent, and does not base her decisions on what others think. How I have always given her a hard time, and teased her, because she is my baby sister and I love her. And had I told her the lessons that I had to learn the hard way? That Jesus does not look at your past, who you were, or where you have been. He is a forgiving and loving savior who is only looking at where you are headed, into his open arms.
I went to see her bruised and battered body that night and I admit with no shame that later that night for the first time in many years I broke. It started with a tear and continued with a pillow grasping, gasping for air break down as I laid in my bed sobbing. When she fell, she had no idea how I felt about her.
You see God is a merciful God who gives many chances. And I have been given the gift of life again and again. I need to share this gift of mine, with all I know. That the church of God is going to fall from time to time, and our father weeps when we stumble. We are going to make mistakes, feel unguided as though we are wandering alone in the wildness following the same footsteps of mistakes, pride and doubt as the children of Israel. And no matter how many times we bump our head into that wall, or come to a humbling fall, he is there.
He is there , by our side, helping us get back on our feet again. And beloved, the church will not grow because of pastors or leaders. The church will grow when we let go of the tear stained pillow of regret and open our arms to the opportunity to reach out. It is each and every one of us who can make his church a place of healing, of joy, of laughter and love.
God is not impressed with consistent attendance or physical presence in his church. He is seeking the submitted, sometimes broken and surrendered lives who have come to him for healing. We can not continue to go around complaining about what has or has not taken place. It is time to rejoice that we are still here, and that there is still time and to make the most of it. Before another day goes by, make the most of it. For though you feel alone, broken and tired he hears your cry and is ready with the rescue team by your side. Now we must go and bring home those that are hurting for healing. And you might just find the healing starts with you.
I beseech you therefore my beloved, go and talk to your sisters. Your brothers, mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, co-works and tell them how you feel. Maybe it has been a long time since you talked, but tell them you have something you need to share. And share with them, that our Jesus is not one who looks at their weaknesses, or their yesterdays. He is there when we fall. He is waiting to forgive, and to love, with open arms. He has been broken for you, and his tears are signs of his passions for you. And like the rolling thunder, his heart rumbles with pain as we struggle. For he is wanting to heal. His arms are outstretched waiting for you embrace. He is waiting for you to reach out.
For outreach is not just about programs, visitation teams or welcoming committees. Outreach is about each of us loving others enough to reach out to those who we know and interact with, and bring them to the house of God. Become vulnerable with them and tell them what our heart is longing to say but our lips fear letting out in fear of rejection. Yet it only takes a spark to get a fire started. So let that spark in someone else’s life by you. And the Holy Spirit will breath into life the full flame of his spirit. Because our God is one of second chances. And today is not just the tomorrow of yesterday..today is the time to do what you MUST do.
A brother who has been broken in life
And mended with the spirit of Jesus Christ
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