“When I’m with you my spirit soars…” Rend Collective, “I Will Be Undignified”
One of my first work-related events after Kim’s death was in Ohio. I was to speak three times on Saturday and once on Sunday. Just before going, the pastor asked if I could add another time slot on Sunday. He wanted me to share with groups from high school to young couples who might one day consider a mission calling.
Honestly, I was tired and weak, and the prospect of adding another speaking slot before the morning worship time was not enticing to me. However, I agreed to do it.
And I am so glad I did.
Normally, I preach a message or provide some sort of mobilization or mission training. It’s been a long time since I told our stories from our pilgrimage with our mission calling and career. Hurriedly, I put a few stories together—our call to mission, stories from our work in South Africa, stories from Zimbabwe, and stories from our various leadership roles. It turned out to be therapeutic. And more. God-ordained.
After telling our story from the past twenty-seven years, I was reminded of something keenly important: Kim and I had been co-laborers. This mission calling was our calling. It was not simply my calling or her calling. I was tired, grieving, and weak, but I had a glimpse of a renewed spirit that just might be out there on the horizon. I was sensing a rebirth of purposeful service. Kim would have me continue and press on. A fire smoldered.
“…we should emerge from [trouble] ready for better service and for greater usefulness than ever before.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
Later at a retreat in North Carolina, I experienced worship in ways I’d never experienced. First of all, I hear aspects of songs and hymns that previously I did not notice. Sure, I heard the words, but they didn’t have the deep meaning I hear now. On this occasion, I realized that when I’m worshiping, I’m doing the exact same thing Kim is doing. And I’m doing it at the same time. Worship is different now. A fire was reigniting.
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them… He sent out his word and healed them and delivered them… Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” Psalms 107:19-21
Worship was returning to my heart. Not a worship for what had happened but for the God who remained in control of my life and provided a foundation in my storm. One Sunday during worship, I was reminded of this while singing “Jesus is Better.” This song is wonderful and healing for a soul in mourning.
“In all my sorrows, Jesus is better—make my heart believe. In all my victories…Than any comfort…More than all riches…Our souls declaring…Our song eternal, Jesus is better—make my heart believe…” Aaron Ivey and Brett Land, “Jesus is Better”
Service and worship have been renewed. Also, love for others has returned with a force. Love is and must be different from here on out.
I’ve sensed a renewed love for my children, their spouses, and my grandchildren. I feel I’ve been given a reminder that I have a little more time, and I am to invest by loving.
“Everything broken will be whole again. And this will be the celebration all of creation longs for. And while we’re waiting for that day to come, we’ve got a little more time to love…” Steven Curtis Chapman, “A Little More Time to Love”
During this unwanted journey, I have experienced a renewed urgency to engage in service, worship, and love. I must not waste the high price I have paid. A fire is smoldering and reigniting, and it promises to flame up once again.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…” 1 Peter 1:22-23