Don’t you love that God is not bound by time? Don’t you love that the One Who created time in the very beginning controls it and is not bound by what He spoke into existence? Don’t you love that He inhabits eternity, both past and present, that He is simultaneously the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end? Don’t you love that God’s omnipresence extends beyond physical geography to include time itself? And, honestly, don’t you love that this blows your mind?!
I do. I hang on that truth.
Yet. Today, because I am bound by time, I have marked its passage. I have counted 3,650 days. Today is a decade, a full 10 years, since my Emma died. A full 10 years that she has gazed on the face of Jesus. A full 10 years that she has sung His praise with the angels. A full 10 years she has beheld His glory. Of course, this means it is also a full 10 years since I have seen her sweet small face, 10 years that my arms have ached to hold her, and 10 years that my heart feels stifling pain over the loss of not watching her grow up in front of me.
Yet, to my God, these days that I have painstakingly counted, have been a blink. “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night.” (Ps. 90:4) And, “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) For Him, though He knows how many days, minutes, and seconds since my sweet E’s heart stopped beating, He is as present in both that moment and this moment and also the future moment when I stand in His presence and see Him face to face…and when I see my girl in her restored, healthy body. His name is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is There. He is where? Yes, exactly…He’s there.
Weird post for a decade of my heartache? I agree. It kind of is. But I have always found theology comforting. God is just so big and His ways are so much higher than mine. I find the more He blows my mind, the more my thoughts and emotions fall into check. And, well, this is just where I’m standing today.
I’m standing in the fact that prior to Emma’s death, God was there; He had prepared us. We walked through storms where He taught us to seek Him, to listen, to wait for His timing, for His word, for His direction. He taught us to lay ourselves out before Him, so He could show us His might and His deliverance and His provision. So that day, 10 years ago, when the only thing He said to me as Josh sped me to the hospital, was, “Jane, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil, for I am with you,” I knew that if my girl would die, He would be there.
I’m standing in the fact that after Emma went home, God was there. In my life I have never known such tangible peace, grace, and mercy like He gave in that season of raw grief. But it was so perfect because it was Him. “He Himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14) Certainly He is our peace with God, the One who bridged the chasm so we could know the Father and be given a restored relationship with Him, and He is also the ever-present peace in our lives whose grace is sufficient for every circumstance and situation. He covered us when we had to choose Emma’s burial plot and the flowers for her casket. He carried us when we sat, still stunned, at her funeral. He gave us a song of praise. He brought joy in spite of great pain. He was there.
On anniversaries, I think it’s normal to look back on the passage of time and remember all the moments, all the milestones. And on this anniversary of our great pain, I’m standing in the glorious fact, that from her death til today, He has been there. To be honest, Charles Dickens probably summed up this decade of our lives better than I could, when he said “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This season has been a season of big life changes for us. We buried a child, and welcomed 3 more. We almost lost our home due to huge and sudden financial problems, yet we bought and sold a home that for us represented a restoration of financial stability. We have given our lives to serve vocationally in the church, yet we have dealt with brothers and sisters who have wounded us where we have served. We have moved our family 7 times in as many years, 2 of which took us halfway across the country, never allowing us to have a true “hometown”, yet our horizons are expanded, we have heart-connects with people across the country, and this world isn’t our true home anyway. We have been betrayed by ministry friends, yet we have been loved by more than one church family and we have learned how to forgive in the absence of apology. We have seen our children give their lives to Christ, and yet there are days that we still want to pull our parenting hair out. The point is, at no place in all the way has He left us. In every piece of the journey, in every path of righteousness He is led us down, He has been there, showing us His glory and His character and His specific, detailed love for us.
And. He is here. Now. And for the next decade, which, by the way, will see my oldest daughter finish her freshman year of college, my middle child graduate high school, and my youngest begin driving, He will be there. He already is.
So then, I can rest in Him through every day of the past, through every day of my present, and for every tomorrow that comes in the future because He is there. He will not change. His goodness will remain. And because I’m His kid, He will forever be working out the circumstances of my life in this fallen world, bringing them about for my good and His glory. “I would have despaired [about a gazillion times in the last 10 years] unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:13-14)
So, on this day 10 years ago, Emma saw Jesus face to face. And though my physical eyes can’t see Him today, I choose to join her with the eyes of my heart, mind, and anything else I can pull together to focus on Him, to see His constancy, His dependability. I will rest my soul at His feet, where my daughter is already bodily sitting, leaning into His goodness, knowing that whatever surprises me, will not surprise Him, because He is already there and already has it worked together for my good. And though 10 years feels like more than a day to me, yet I will live with eternity in view because He has set it in my heart (Ecc. 3:11), and I will look forward to the day, I join my daughter in His glorious presence.