I have always wanted a daughter, not that I wasn’t delighted to have two beautiful boys! I was raised with three sisters.
So when my son Christopher asked Brittany to marry him, I had no idea what a blessing I was in for. I was excited to have a girl in the family.
What would it be like to have another woman at the table and, even more than that, in my kitchen? I would be the mother-in-law! Yikes! I wanted to shatter that stereotype.
I determined that if Brittany would let me, I would love her as my own and pour all I knew about being a Christian woman, a wife, and a mother into her life.
Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive, I had never stepped into these shoes before, and I wondered if they would be a comfortable fit. They would have to take me over territory I had never been before.
This was my son’s lovely young wife, a relatively new Christian, the future mother of my grandchildren! Dear Lord, I better do this right! What if . . . I don’t know . . . what if this didn’t click?
I have a great capacity for self-doubt and all these insecurities came rushing to the surface. Who do I think I am? I do not have it all together.
This was one challenge I could not and would not delegate. So I prayed, “Lord, I’m not a perfect example, nor do I have all the answers, but You do!”
So we began meeting for Bible study once a week. Like the lyrics of the song from The Sound of Music—“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start . . . ”—we started at square one.
The foundation for our study was the Cornerstones section that Greg wrote for The New Believer’s Bible. We looked at questions like: “Who is God?”, “Who is Jesus?”, and “What is the Bible?” After we finished that, we tackled important disciplines that are necessary for a Christian woman to know—being a woman of the Word, a woman of prayer, a woman who loves and serves others.
Despite my initial insecurity, I watched Brit grow by leaps and bounds into a woman of strong faith. We read, studied, discussed, and prayed, continuing in the Scriptures and building on that solid foundation. It is that foundation that has stood the greatest test of our lives.
On July 24, 2008, we were studying the book of Philippians. The passage for that day was Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering . . . ”
We were about to learn that lesson like never before. Little did we know that morning, just as we were gathering to meet, a call would come that would rock our worlds forever. My son Christopher—Brittany’s husband, Stella’s daddy, and father of the unborn child Brittany was carrying—had been killed in a terrible car crash on his way to work.
When the bottom drops out and there is no way to fix it, you begin to see what your life is really made of. It seemed at that moment that everything was stripped away—everything except God and His promises.
My heart dissolved and broken, I watched like a mother when her brood is terrified. Brittany and her mother Sheryll were relatively new believers. How could this happen to us?
Our lives were the happiest they had ever been. The past year was the most blessed year of our lives, and the past month had been the best month of our lives. To have this happen was inconceivable, and in many ways it still is.
But it was not the end. One of the first Bible verses I memorized was 1 Corinthians 10:13. It tells us that God promises He would never give us more than we can bear. I know that, but that is a verse we often quote to others. Now, I must quote it to myself.
How precious is His Word, ladies, for in that hour of searing pain and grief, my mind was flooded with Scriptures. Verses I had committed to memory as a young girl. As friends who came to the house that afternoon have told me, out of my heart poured the promises of God’s Word.
I was, as Greg has said many times since that day, preaching to myself. I knew Christopher was alive and in the presence of the Lord, who wrapped His arms around us even then.
In the days, weeks, and months following, through my sleepless nights and days that seemed without end, I was comforted by friends. These were friends with names like Job, Mary, Naomi, Ruth, Joseph, Paul, Jeremiah, Habbakuk, and David . . . each one telling me of the faithfulness of our God. Everyone in Scripture who had suffered and triumphed told me their stories and I knew I wasn’t alone in suffering.
But the best of all Scriptural companions was and is our Savior Himself.
• I could see Him weeping at the tomb of Lazarus.
• I could see Him in Gethsemane, praying alone as He sweat blood and tears.
• I could hear His cry at Calvary, “My God, My God, Why?”
I knew that I had a Savior who suffered. I closed my eyes and opened my heart to gaze upon His loveliness and sacrifice for me. I stood at the foot of His cross and watched Him suffer, and I received His grace that is sufficient. His suffering, death, resurrection, and life gave me strength to not only survive but triumph.
When you take God at His Word, and hide it in your heart, you have a storehouse of strength. In my first moments of grief and shock there was no time to look up verses in the concordance.
No doctor, lawyer, or minister could fix this. I wanted to fix things for “Topher,” but I could not. I wanted to hold him in my arms and soothe him, kiss his face, and make it better like I did when he was small.
But I would never have that chance. I would never even see his face on this earth again. I was alone; not even Greg could touch this pain, nor could I touch his.
It was the Savior and me. Me and the Savior. And He had to be enough. And He was enough, more than enough. I have never been more convinced of what I believe, and why I believe it, than I am today.
Right now. Don’t waste time. Begin to read God’s Word, believe it, commit it to your memory, and live by it.
It may be the summertime of your life. You may not think it is the most important thing. But one day, the rain will fall as it does on everyone, and it will be very important indeed.
So my friend, like a squirrel who gathers up nuts for a long winter, store up the Word of God in your heart. It will see you through the coldest, longest winters until the day dawns bright and warm again.
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