Today was hard.
It's so weird, how this whole thing works. You go one or two days feeling completely normal, and then all of a sudden....
It's music that does it most of the time. Worship music. Words like this:
I don't understand Your ways
Oh but I will give You my song
Give You all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways
Now around every corner
And up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of Your face
Is all that I need
I will say to You
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this...
(Rita Springer, Worth It All)
Something happens when we sing and I don't completely understand it. I know that there have to be books written by worship leaders or even secular musicians, exploring this deep thing that seems to get opened up in people when music starts-- whether we are listening or singing/playing ourselves. Because it's huge. I can feel it-- it's like a spring loosening in the pit of my stomach, or an electric current, and it rises until sometimes I feel like I could fly.
But when I am sad, it's a key to opening my heart. Yesterday, this song (above) brought me to my knees. Are there words to add to it? I don't understand His ways, but still I will bring Him my song. I will bring Him all of my praise. Because
...we do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 corinth 4:15-18)
There is something eternal happening in my heart. I have no clue what it is, but something in me just wants to sit back and let God do it. I cannot for one moment say that my son's death is a "momentary, light affliction," but in the light of eternity... will I one day see it that way? OH, I cannot imagine it. And what could have been any purpose?
Am I being "sifted"? Am I being tested? Or am I just a resident of a demented, fallen world in which tragedies befall people every day and at least I have my health?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
There is a statue at the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, that is one of the ugliest, most horrifying and passionately beautiful images I have ever seen. The sculpture is cast in bronze, I think, and is well over 10' tall. I had pictures of it, but my film was in a bag that was stolen and I lost all of them (so much was lost on that trip). At any rate, the statue is of a genderless human figure whose head is only made up of a huge hole, which we understand to be a gaping mouth, silently screaming sky-ward. The figure is holding what looks to be a child, limp, lifeless, in its arms.
I remember thinking that the statue was screaming "Why?" to the heavens.
I am by no means comparing my loss to that of the Holocaust victims. But that statue... it resounded in me when I saw it in person, when I was unmarried and untouched and had no idea that one day I would carry a child in my womb whose name would be Benjamin, and that one day I would hold him in my heart and scream "Why???" to the heavens, deeply and silently and obediently in my heart. It resounds with me now, as that mother. Sometimes I feel faceless, and that my whole heart has been boiled down to one aching desire: Give him back, God. Give him back...
And it feels like our lives are filled with one moment after another which could have the caption, "Will you still serve me?" or "Will you still love me?"
Will you still serve me even if you struggle so hard with unbelief that you think your head will explode and no one has answers that satisfy your racing brain?
Will you still serve me even if you invest yourself in training and bonding with this team and at the last minute I send a snow storm in the south in the spring and you can't go?
Will you still serve me even if I bring you to the only city you ever wanted to visit and I allow total chaos to wreck relationships that were priceless to you, and never restore them?
Will you still serve me, will you still love me, if I take your only son? If I take him from you before you ever have a chance to see his eyes? If I take him from you and never let you count his toes and kiss his eyes and memorize the way his skin smells? Will you still love me even if you feel that I haven't been very loving toward you? Will you choose to trust me? Will you let me sing to your heart that it's going to be worth it all someday? Will you close your eyes and let me lead you and trust me that in the light of eternity, this is a momentary and light affliction?
The cry of my heart is that this love for God that I have been walking in all of these years is not just words. I have never had to mean it like I do this season. Suddenly, I feel old, deep down inside. But it's not old as in "decrepit." No, it's more like... this is real. More real than anything I have ever known. Would I have ever given Him my son? Like this?
I mean, dang-- the words are right here in this blog-- the NIGHT before he returned to the Lord, I was praying Hannah's prayer! But OH GOD, what was I saying??
I'm under no delusions-- I know that Ben didn't die because I prayed that prayer. I do not know why he died, but it wasn't that. If anything, I can take comfort in having prayed that prayer... oh, it's too much right now.
Anyway, what if this whole thing served to draw Don and me closer to the Lord than we have ever been? And it is doing just that. Would that be worth it? Would Ben himself have willingly given his life for that as an adult? What if his life and our response to his death served to glorify God? How intensely lovely would that be???
I'm rambling. I'm tired. I looked through his pictures and all of the stuff from the hospital (not the first time, but I haven't done it since a week ago) today and discovered that the nurses had included a lock of his hair in a little baggy and I hadn't remembered that. It was precious to find. Today he would have been five weeks old. Instead of marveling over his blossoming personality, I held his personal affects in a zip-locked baggy and searched the little cap they had on his head for any stray hairs, pieces of flaky skin, some bit of him left over.... I wept. He is gone. Profoundly, simply, truly gone.
But we are not alone. Jesus even said it-- "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever-- The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him"... John 14
He has not left us alone. Someone told me this week that she had never felt the presence of the Lord before, but she was sure she had felt it in our hospital room a few weeks ago.