Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Know Now


One year ago today, I received a phone call I will never forget.

One year ago today, my heart broke into pieces on the floor.

One year ago today, I lost some of my faith, some of my strength, some of my hope.

One year ago today, Nathan drew his last breath on earth.

But today is not a day for mourning. Today is a day for celebration. Because one year ago today, Nathan closed his eyes in death and opened them in the arms of his Savior.

During the year before his death, I prayed for Nathan to find healing, find hope, find redemption. I prayed for him to make peace with his past, with himself, with his God. I prayed for him to know love, know forgiveness, know grace. And when he died, it felt all wrong. It felt like defeat. It felt like failure. It felt like God had given up on Nathan.

After a long and painful year of grief, anger, and brokenness, I have finally come to understand, to believe, to know in the farthest corners of my soul that Nathan's death was not a defeat. It was not a failure. And God did not give up on Nathan. How do I know? Because God   is   love. In my limited humanity, I cannot even begin to understand what it means to be love. But this much I know: Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres—LOVE NEVER FAILS. It's the kind of love we have all longed for from the moment we were born. It's the kind of love that covers over our multitude of flaws and somehow makes us more than we are. It's the kind of love that carries us through our darkest moments. It's the kind of love that picks up the pieces and painstakingly puts us back together. It's the kind of love that holds us up when nothing else will. It's the kind of the love that won't abandon us even when everyone else has. This love never gives up. This love never fails. This love is never defeated. And this love surrounded Nathan every moment of his life.

I do not understand the purpose in Nathan's death. This is a mystery I will carry with me until the day I meet my God. But after a year of grieving and searching for answers, I have found the only answer that matters: God  is  love. Don't skip over those words because you've read them a million times, because they've been quoted to you all of your life, or because they're too simple to be the answer you need. Those three little words change everything. It means we were created, chosen, and redeemed in love. It means we are sanctified, disciplined, and refined in love. It means we will be resurrected, glorified, and welcomed in love. And it means that everything God has purposed for us is in love.

Do I wish things had ended differently? Of course. Do I still grieve for the loss of Nathan's life, his future, his earthly redemption? Absolutely. Would I change things if I could? No. Because after twelve months and many painstaking layers of healing, I believe with all my heart that God  is  love. And that means God would not have written this ending to Nathan's story if it was not the most loving outcome possible.

I realize now that none of those prayers I offered on Nathan's behalf were in vain. In fact, God answered every single one of them. It just didn't happen the way I expected or the way I would have chosen. The moment Nathan left this earth, he found hope, healing, and redemption beyond all human understanding. He made peace once and for all with his past, with himself, and with his God. And he finally knew love, knew forgiveness, and knew grace in a way that would set him free for all eternity.

Two days after Nathan's death, I was listening to a CD from one of my favorite artists, Bebo Norman. When the song "I Know Now" came on, the floodgates of my grief were opened anew. It was if I heard Nathan's voice telling me the story of his healing:

I took a walk down to the river
A broken heart in my hands
Before the Taker and the Giver
To make my final stand

I waded out into the water
And I sank just like a stone
But I was lifted by the Angel
To never be alone

And I never knew
I could lay my burdens down
And I never knew
Redemption could be found
But I know now


I saw Your mercy in the morning
In the color of the sky
I let the Spirit wash me over
And the sun began to rise

And I never knew
I could lay my burdens down
And I never knew
Redemption could be found
But I know now

I took a walk down to the river
And I laid my burdens down
Before the Taker and the Giver
And I am finally found
And I am finally found

(Bebo Norman, "I Know Now")

I wasn't ready to hear it that day. There was still too much sorrow, too much loss, too much disappointment. But things are different now. Today this story gives me reason to rejoice. Because one year ago today, Nathan was finally found. One year ago today, Nathan's life began. And that is most definitely cause for celebration.

Happy Homegoing, Nathan. You are loved and you are missed. But we rejoice in your redemption.




(I couldn't find the song to add it to my music player, but you can hear it at this link. Just press the play button next to the song title.)

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