Friday, September 29, 2006

Weekly Word for September 29, 2006

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for Thou art with me . . .
(Psalm 23: 1,2, & 4)

“How do you say goodbye?” As I stood in line, waiting to go into the funeral home, I thought about this question. It is a question we all face. It is a question that many of us struggle with . . .

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .

Ted had gotten the call early one morning. He called me right away, and I could hear the unbelief in his voice. As he told me the news, I couldn’t believe it either! How could it be true? We had just gone to their wedding, a little over a year ago. How could her husband be dead?

As the day wore on, more and more information came to us. He had left for work that morning, but never made it there. He had died in a terrible motorcycle accident.

That evening, I could feel the pain in Ted, as he thought about the young man’s wife and little girl. “What will she do?” he asked. As I looked at him, I didn’t have any answers.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

(Psalm 23: 4)

As we stood in line, waiting to go into the funeral home, I couldn’t help but think back to their wedding day. It had been a beautiful summer day, as we gathered at a park near the ocean. The sky was dotted with small white clouds, and the ocean made a beautiful backdrop for their wedding ceremony. As she walked toward her groom, the bride looked so happy in her beautiful white gown. It was easy to tell that this was one of the happiest days of her life.

Later that day, there was music and dancing, as we celebrated this very special day. The couple’s young daughter held on tight to her daddy, as they swayed back and forth to the music. As I remembered back, a tightness filled my chest. How would that little girl get through this awful time? How was she supposed to say goodbye to her daddy?

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The righteous cry and the Lord hears, . . .
(Psalm 34: 15 & 17)

“How do you say goodbye to those you love?” This is a question each of us will face - sometime in our lives. I have had to deal with it, and it has never gotten any easier.

I was 14 years old, when my grandfather died. He was my grandfather on my mother’s side, and I loved him dearly. He was pretty much bald all the years that I knew him, but when he was younger - he had been a redhead - just like me. He was the quiet grandfather, the one that I loved to be with. Both my grandparents on my father’s side had died when we were much younger, and so none of us kids had gone to their funerals. But now, at 14, my parents thought I was old enough to go.

But I didn’t want to go. I was afraid. And so I asked my parents if I could stay home and watch the other kids. I know that they didn’t understand, but I didn’t want to say “goodbye” to him. I didn’t think I could bear seeing him in that coffin.

So, as my parents went off to the “calling hours” and then the funeral, I stayed home with my brothers and cousins. When the services were finally over, everyone came back to our house. There were relatives and friends, all there to tell my grandmother how much they had loved my grandfather. There was food, and even laughter - as people talked about the man they had known. That night, I sat right next to my grandmother, listening to the stories about my grandfather’s life.

It was the very next week, when my parents brought my grandmother home to her house on the cape - and left me there to stay with her. I stayed there the entire summer, listening to her talk about my grandfather, and about the life they had lived together. And then one day she asked me: “Why didn’t you go to the funeral?” As I looked at her, I didn’t have a good answer. I told her that I had been too afraid to go. And at that moment, I started to cry.

“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love, . . . Do not fear, for I am with you.”
(Isaiah 43: 4 & 5)

“How do you say goodbye to those you love?” That summer, my grandmother taught me about loving, and saying “goodbye”. She taught me that it was alright to be sad, and yet have hope for the future. She never stopped living, even though the “love of her life” had left her. And truthfully, it was as if a part of him had been left behind. Even though she knew he was in heaven, she still talked to him at times. The man she had loved for over 40 years, was still part of her life . . .

“Put me like a seal over your heart, . . . For love is as strong as death, . . . It’s flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the Lord.”
(Song of Solomon 8:6)

“How do you say goodbye . . .” It is never easy to say goodbye to those we love. My grandmother lived on her own for over 25 years - after my grandfather died. During that time she learned to drive a car, and get about on her own. Did she stop missing my grandfather? No. She always loved him, but decided to live on - until the day they would be together - on the other side . . .

“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it;” . . .
(Song of Solomon 8:7)

“How do you say goodbye . . .” It is sometimes very hard to do. Our little granddaughter has a terrible time saying “goodbye”. She has been dealing with the separation of her mother and father, and so leaving - is very difficult for her. She seems to disappear - so she doesn’t have to say the words. It has made it hard to know what to do, when it comes time for us to leave. And then, the other day, I watched Ted teach her - about what “goodbyes” really mean . . .

We had been babysitting the kids overnight, and we had just brought them back to their dad. As we visited and talked with him, he told us he needed to leave and bring Emma over to her friend’s house. We were all hugging and saying goodbye, as I realized that Emma was already buckled into the car. And then I saw it. She was grinning from ear to ear, and mouthing something to him. Ted was just standing there, using sign language, and telling her he loved her. He never said the word “goodbye” - only “I love you”. She signed it back to him, and then waved as they drove away. As I looked at him, I realized he had just taught her about goodbyes - and loving someone . . .

“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it;” . . .

“How do you say goodbye to those you love?” It isn’t an easy question, and there are no easy answers. As Ted and I stood in that line, waiting to pay our respects to John’s family, we wondered how his young wife would get through this. How was she going to say goodbye to her very best friend from childhood? Truthfully, I didn’t know the answer.

But what I did know, was that she had loved John for years, and on the day they were married - it had been a true celebration of that love. They had a little daughter - who was the evidence of that love. And so, as I stood there, it was my hope and prayer that it would be that love - that little life - who would help her through this awful time.

Love . . . Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 7 & 8)

“How do you say goodbye?” It is never easy to say goodbye to those we love. Throughout my life, there have been gifts of love and friendship - all along the way. Each one, has changed my life. My grandfather, my grandmother, and my friend Norma - all taught me about love and faith. And then they left. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye; but their love lives on - through me. Their love, changed my life . . .
But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Each day, as Ted leaves for work, I stand outside on the steps waiting for him to drive away. As he pulls up to the curb, I tell him “I love you” in sign language. As he drives away, I pray. I ask the Lord to go with him - and then I thank Him for the gift of our love. Do I know how long we have together on this earth? No. But what I do know, is that our love will live on - through our children and grandchildren. This love - will live on - - - forever . . .

“How do you say goodbye?” With love. Each of us has the choice before us - to care or not. When we say “yes” to loving and caring - our world is changed - forever. And Love - - - lives on . . .

And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love - abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:16)
God bless you, and keep you - until we meet again . . .

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers


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