Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Mother's Walk through Grief

Recently I had the privilege of visiting with Leslie McCullough. Leslie’s sixteen year old son Connor died last month after a seven month battle with cancer. I knew from her Caring Bridge posts that Leslie and her family were fortified by a remarkable faith. Many of the insights she shared with me about her life are worthy of reflection, and I hope to be able to continue to share those through posts on the blog. As Lent is coming to a close, I felt her most recent entry was so inspirational that I am sharing the majority of it. It inspires me to strive to carry my own crosses with an eye on glorifying God and I am confident all who have the opportunity to meditate on Leslie’s words will be inspired as well.

Leslie’s Caring Bridge Post on March 11, 2012:

Dear Friends-

Not sure if this will reach many of you or not. It has been three weeks since Connor went to his heavenly home. We have been trying to get details taken care of such as death certificates, cancelling cell phone accounts, reminder notices for 6 month dental appointments that need to be cancelled, etc. etc. Each time we take Connor’s name off of something it is a painful reminder that we will not have a chance to enjoy any more time with him here in this life. We all have what we have come to refer to as “Connor moments” where tears will come seemingly out of nowhere. (A special thanks to the Sprint Customer service rep who waited for me to compose myself as I could barely get the words out that I would be needing to cancel Connor’s cell phone account. He loved texting friends before and all through the time of his illness. His sticky fingerprints are still on the screen of the phone from the evening right before he had the seizure…) But those moments also provide another opportunity to look forward to the life ahead with him in Heaven and thank God for that blessed hope.

Meanwhile there are tasks here to be accomplished by those of us that remain and we press on. It is not a denial of the grief that we all feel so deeply, but a recognition that we have a solemn duty to move forward and serve God well with the time we have left. Just before my mother passed away 16 years ago, she gave me her Bible and a devotional book, Streams in the Desert, written in 1925. I have read it occasionally throughout the years since her death but not regularly. I happened (actually the Holy Spirit directed me) to see it on the table today and I picked it up to read the entry for today, March 11. I was amazed at how it expressed what I had been feeling these last couple of weeks. While knowing that there is a need to grieve, I also felt very keenly that it is a slippery slope and that if I was not careful, grief like quicksand could pull me under. So what is the balance? How do we as Christians, who are not to grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), deal with our grief? I was inspired by what J.R Miller wrote in this selection and wanted to share it. We lost a soldier in this battle we call life--a strong, brave, talented, and beautiful son whom we loved and still love dearly. But what must we do now to honor him and more importantly to honor the God he served and that we still live to serve?

March 11 (Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles C. Cowman)

“Now it came to pass after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now, therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people.” (Josh.1:1-2)

“Sorrow came to you yesterday, and emptied your home. Your first impulse now is to give up, and sit down in despair amid the wrecks of your hopes. But you dare not do it. You are in the line of battle, and the crisis is at hand. To falter a moment would be to imperil some holy interest. Other lives would be harmed by your pausing, holy interests would suffer, should your hands be folded. You must not linger even to indulge your grief.

A distinguished general related this pathetic incident of his own experience in time of war. The general’s son was a lieutenant of battery. An assault was in progress. The father was leading his division in a charge; as he pressed on in the field, suddenly his eye was caught by the sight of a dead battery-officer lying just before him. One glance showed him it was his own son. His fatherly impulse was to stop beside the loved form and give vent to his grief, but the duty of the moment demanded that he should press on in the charge; so quickly snatching one hot kiss from the dead lips, he hastened away, leading his command in the assault.

Weeping inconsolably beside a grave can never give back love’s banished treasure, nor can any blessing come out of such sadness. Sorrow makes deep scars; it writes its record ineffaceably on the heart which suffers. We really never get over our great griefs; we are never altogether the same after we have passed through them as we were before. Yet there is a humanizing and fertilizing influence in sorrow which has been rightly accepted and cheerfully borne. Indeed, they are poor who have never suffered, and have none of sorrow’s marks upon them. The joy set before us should shine upon our grief as the sun shines through the clouds, glorifying them. God has so ordered, that in pressing on in a duty we shall find the truest, richest comfort for ourselves. Sitting down to brood over our sorrows, the darkness deepens about us and creeps into our hearts, our strength changes to weakness. But if we turn away from the gloom, and take up the tasks and duties to which God calls us, the light will come again and we shall grow stronger.” -- J.R. Miller

I hope this reflection is an encouragement to each of your hearts, those of you who have prayed for us, grieved with us, and cared for us in so many ways. Let us continue to encourage one another to run our individual races with strength, courage, and faith and when our earthly journeys are over, to arrive in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and hear the precious words, Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

Blessings now and forever…Leslie McCullough

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