Earlier this week I unexpectedly found myself heading to Northwest Arkansas. Turning north off of I-40, it didn’t take long before I found myself surrounded by beautiful mountains and foothills. From the ridge where I drove they laid to my right rippling westward, high enough to add 3-D dimension to an incredible sunset but small enough not to block the folds of the spectacular view of the days decline.
Sorry I don’t have a picture but while I enjoyed the view my mind and heart were set on getting to where I needed to be. But it was nice to be reminded that the God who created such splendor was with me where I was and with the ones I was going to meet already.
I passed by Fayetteville, the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks (Woo-Pig-Sooie!).
But this trip isn’t about sports, this trip is about hearts, homes and families.
My destination was the Northwest Medical Center – more specifically the ICU center.
After a week’s fast from social media, I went to Facebook Sunday afternoon to find that part of our Oregon faith family was in a state of crisis. Reading on I found that they were not facing it in Southern Oregon but the tragedy had struck here in the south.
Bailey, Bethany and Bethany’s two small children had just arrived to the area where their mom laid in ICU. Their grandparents, my dear friends, had stayed behind unable to come with the girls. Mrs. Bev is in the late stages of Alzheimers and since Deacon Dave and the girls are her caregivers it made it impossible for all of them to come to the crisis, so Dave (also known as Pop) had sent them on to meet their two aunts at their mother’s side.
Immediately my heart knew I needed to be where they were. While the girls are in their mid to late 20s they were away from home and away from their faith family. Having walked through loss recently I remember what it meant to me to have people surround me in my season of distress and loss.
Having known the girls since they were youth and having known their mom AND having been blessed to walk closely with Dave and Mrs Bev there was no way I was not going to place myself wherever God had placed them today.
It wasn’t just because Dave was the retired Marine that had came down from Rogue River and loaded Lenny and I up in 2006 and delivered us to Grace Baptist Church. It’s because of the love we share as a faith family. God had beautifully bound us with love and grace for an eternity together and that doesn’t stop because we are separated by miles.
As ambassadors of Christ we are called to administer God’s love and extend his hands to all but especially to those of the household of faith.
Therefore if my family has a need then I have the blessed opportunity to come alongside them as share their burden. So in my mind regardless of whether they were back in Texas or in Tennessee I was going to where they were.
To my amazement however they were north of Fayetteville just a little over three hours away so I didn’t wait till morning to take off but threw stuff in a bag and jumped in the car and headed this west.
I came not knowing any details other than Leslie was in ICU on life support. I don’t have to know details in order to pray. God knows and that is sufficient for me. I just desired to be with them as share the journey at their side and pray alongside my family.
Arriving I found the girls exhausted from a long drive and little sleep and emotionally crippled from seeing their mom for the first time in a couple of years depleted, on life support, short on hope.
The three of us headed to the room to pray with her during the evening visitation hour. Life and physical illness made her almost unrecognizable to me. She had always been so full of life, the glass was always half full, there was always more just around the corner…
However now, Leslie was nearing what might be the end of her journey and even as I prayed over her I knew it was the family I needed to lift up as they were going to be facing hard decisions in the days ahead. Leslie might be released from this world in the next few days but these that remain were walking through the valley of the shadow of death today.
This is life on this side of eternity. Death is a part of the journey. And in living there is a season for everything.
“There is a time to be born, and a time to die… A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn…” Eccl 3:2&4
Our journey here is filled with mountain top experiences and hills of hope and valleys of despair. Faith allows us to embrace all three and trust God regardless of the season.
Today you may be experiencing life in its fullness on a path marked by contentment and joy. Or you may be in the midst of great loss walking through the shadows. Or maybe your day has just drifted by uneventful… like still waters on a quiet stream.
Wherever today finds us I pray that we are mindful that in every season the Lord is our Shepherd and the author of the days that His sun will rise and set over our life’s journey.
Tonight I will head back home and leave the girls and their aunts to wait. But when you love somebody a piece of you always stays behind where they are…
We covet your prayers for Leslie’s family.