The email subject simply said “Thanks for sharing”. It was from a father who lost his two year old son last February and I eagerly read the text that followed. He shared briefly his circumstances, then left a link to an audio of his son’s funeral, urging me to listen. I went home and clicked on, profoundly moved by what I heard.
The father spoke first. I was not only touched by his words, but I immediately noticed the edge in his voice. The sorrow and agony wove through his words, and I remembered the peculiar dominion and freedom that comes with such devastation. We know there is nothing left to lose and having thrown our broken souls upon the Rock of ages, having severed the last cords from all earthly moorings, we are strangely buoyed by an unseen Force that we can neither feel at the time nor understand but His presence is unmistakable. When a person is surrendered to God’s will at this time, there is clarity to the world around you. You see things as they really are, with all the small petty things of life sifted out and you become a mouthpiece for God, a yielded vessel in the purest sense. It is transforming.
This morning I read from Isaiah, “I have chosen you out of the furnace of affliction” and I thought, How strange that You would not only find us in that place but even lead us there; to a furnace, or a desert or the wilderness. Yet He promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” I remember so clearly how black the darkness became after my son died. It was the type of black that makes you unsure of your next step, of the air around you, even unsure of up and down; there is nothing familiar. I knew that God was there, His words were behind me, guiding me, His arm was beneath me, and I also knew that everywhere I would go, that Jesus was before me. I was still scared, sometimes terrified, but these things I knew to be true.
In a vivid dream I had in those early days, Jesus was running. I know we don’t know what he looked like but it was him in my dream and he was running fast like you do when there is something dangerous and you are trying to save someone. He had a look of great focus and compassion on his face. And in the dream God told me he was running to catch a girl who was falling. And the girl was me.
I can’t stop thinking of the father of this beautiful little boy who drowned, of the painful march through the year; birthdays, holidays, looking for the laughter, the little steps, reaching out to hold…nothing. Yet in listening to the funeral, the father’s voice so broken but with a familiar strength, I know they will not only be okay, but they will be blessed beyond measure. In God’s peculiar economy, the letting go of everything allows us to receive His “all in all”. The path, so dark to begin with, becomes illuminated as we climb higher in to His glory and we are hidden in the cleft of the rock, where we see things too marvelous for words.
He wrote specifically to say that he and his wife also find comfort from the words of Samuel Rutherford, a 17th century preacher, and Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India. (See Resources on the HOPE page). The following poem is one he found written by Amy Carmichael, who suffered many years while serving in India. I’ll end here. May you find the Secret Path.
(by Amy Carmichal & based on John 4: 14)
“Shall never thirst” —My God, what does it mean?
My wells of joy are dried up, and the dawn of this strange day discovers all my lawn, that yesterday lay green, A stretch of withered grass; and the white may that bordered it is gone.
My desolate day lengthens to weeks; will the long weeks be years? Henceforth must only tears suffice me? “Never thirst!” Are the words mockery, framed to ensnare? Nay, God be true though my own heart be liar! When was He ever a wilderness to me? As waters that fail? Thou pricking, stinging brier, false stabbing thought–go trail thy venomous thorns elsewhere! O God, my Father, help me.
Thus he spoke–the man whose heart God broke, but broke in pitifulness. Though by a stroke He took the dear desire of his eyes, it was but to surprise him with greater Love. For far more full of incommunicable delights, the fountain on the heights, than wayside pool, however sweet with fringing flower and fern; and those who learn the secret path that to the fountain goes, whence comfort flows, would tread it ever. But just then, of this only the border of the coming bliss was shown to him — as in the desolate dawn Father and son in a new union, one, walked hand in hand across the withered lawn.