Page 197 is as difficult to write as it was to live. The day began, at least in a technical sense, as I finished writing yesterday’s page at 1 AM this morning and then spent time in prayer finishing the funeral service message I would share today. When I finally had the flow of words on paper that matched what I believed God would want me to say, I headed to bed to see if I could get some sleep before I needed to wake up. 🙂 While exhausted from the long day yesterday, the restlessness within me made sleep difficult to come by. The sadness of my niece’s life on earth being cut short was mixed with a heartache of watching my brother and his family grieve such a loss. Add to that the daunting task of finding words to share when there are no words that can completely take away the pain and sorrow. Thus the need for me to rest in the presence of God for His wisdom and His words was much more important and useful than a little sleep would be.
The sleep finally came and it seemed like a moment later I woke up to begin the day with great fear and trepidation regarding the task ahead. It was then that I remembered a verse that I have seen throughout Breanna’s timeline, posted by her on the timelines of her friends, and imprinted on a blanket displayed during the funeral visitation — “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) For Bre, this wasn’t simply a nice verse to post on social media or to share with others, it was a verse she chose to believe and live. She accomplished great things and experienced grand adventures because she believed that nothing within the will of God was impossible. And so, as I prepared for a day of great difficulty, it was the subject of my funeral message that reminded me of the source of the courage I needed in order to accomplish the task that was set before me.
After adding a reference to the Philippians passage to the funeral message, I headed to the church so I could be there early to make sure the details of the service were taken care of and that each person participating was aware of the things they needed to know. The rest of the day was kind of a blur as my mind shifted into ministry focus and relied fully on the strength I have in Christ to accomplish what needed done. Even in the blur, as I think about the day, I realize how God encouraged me in the midst of the service even as I pray He was using me to encourage others. After doing the initial planning of the service late Wednesday afternoon, I ended up getting a message yesterday morning that a young man from the Purdue Varsity Glee Club was interested in putting together a quartet from the group to come and sing during the service. As the communication went back and forth and the offer approved by the family, a list of potential songs was sent to the family and two songs were chosen to be sung. In the list, and chosen by the family, was my favorite hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”. And there it was, in the middle of the service, at a time when I needed a reminder that I could do all things through Christ who gives me strength; a beautiful gift from God in the form of a well-sung song that ministered to me specifically as I attempted to minister to the family and friends who had gathered.
As God carried me through the rest of the day, I could feel the energy in me completely being drained as I sat at lunch following the graveside service. God had given me enough to accomplish what needed done and now he was telling me it was time to rest. Once I got home, I took a brief nap and then went to take a photo off my iPad that I had taken of all the flowers lined up across the front of the church. I don’t take a lot of photos with my iPad, but as I downloaded the photo from the church, there was also a photo I had taken earlier this year of the sun rising over the Smoky Mountains. As soon as I saw it, I thought of Breanna now living “high upon the mountain” where she is dancing in heaven with great joy.
I pray that you and I would not simply use scripture as great sayings, but that we would let it sink deep within our lives and live it on a daily basis. I pray for those reeling from the pain of loss. I pray that we would know the power of God that can accomplish everything according to His will. I pray that we would relish in the beautiful reminders that God gives us of His presence and love.