I’m sitting here getting ready to go to bed. Then, this song starts playing. And it all comes back to me. It all started with a call…
…A call that changed my world. July 31, 2009. I remember it as if had happened last night. I was hanging out with Emily Beth upstairs in the lobby of New Mexico Hall in Glorieta, NM. My grandmother calls. “Your Aunt Elaine is dead. We found her about half an hour ago.” Instantly, I was speechless. It was like someone had punched me in the stomach numerous times. I got up and left. I remember talking to my grandmother on the phone that afternoon. I was hurting. She was hurting. I was trying to comfort her while, at the same time, trying to comfort myself somehow. All I could do was cry.
Of course I knew that she was in a better place; I knew that God would be there to comfort me. But when I initially found out, none of that mattered. It hurts when somebody that you deeply care about suddenly vanishes from your life. I remember getting off the phone with my grandmother and walking to the only place where I knew I could be completely alone with just me and God – the prayer garden. I walked around the beautiful prayer garden at the Glorieta Conference Center and all I could do was cry. I couldn’t speak at all. After a while, I finally came to the point where I could speak. I got on my knees and had a very long talk with God in that garden. Later on that night, I found out that she had been murdered. That just added to the pain. To know that someone would murder her!? Why!?
That week would be a long one. I was very grateful that Chef Danny, my supervisor, allowed me to have a couple days off. Those days were a struggle, but I had friends to help me through them. I spent much of those days in the prayer garden.
Danielle, one of my friends, had been helping me to memorize Scripture over the summer. The Scripture that I had memorized was 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” It was like God was preparing me for what was to come. And they helped me get through many days of work.
Even crazier, God had reminded me of a testimony that my friend, Chris, had shared during Noonday at our Baptist Student Union one day – the week right before I had found out about Elaine’s death. I even talked to Kyle about this on the phone the weekend before. Chris’s grandpa had died while he was in Hawaii two summers ago. He really wanted to go home. But God reminded him of a passage – Luke 14:26-27. “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” He stayed instead of going to his grandpa’s funeral. And God used him in a mighty way. I wanted to leave – trust me. But his testimony of that helped remind me that I needed to serve the remainder of my time. Yes, I was hurt. I was grieving. But this wasn’t about me. It was about God. (Thank you Chris for your testimony – it has stuck with me since. I hope I remembered the details right.)
And that brings me to this point. I’ve been through the grieving process. God has given me a peace about the matter. There are still some moments where something strikes that memory, and reminds me of the great moments I had with Elaine. And how I will not have anymore moments with her – until I get to Heaven. The thing that really sticks out to me is time. Right before I left for Glorieta this summer, I had stayed a week here in Alabama visiting my grandmother. My aunt was right across the yard from her. I visited her once. And she really enjoyed that time and told me she couldn’t wait until I came back from New Mexico to visit with her again. That time would not arrive.
If this Truth could just stick to my memory… If I could just remind myself of this every minute of every day.. that our life is but a vapor! We aren’t promised tomorrow! We aren’t guaranteed the rest of today! Why can’t I just grasp this!? Why do I forsake so much time with my family, the people that I love? This could be the very last time I speak with them. My grandmother could die in her sleep tonight. Why am I not doing everything I can to make the most of the moments that I am given with her and the rest of my family RIGHT NOW!?
Yet, through my pain. Through my sorrow, God was and still is here with me, comforting me. Let me encourage you – make the most of every moment with the people that you love. They may not be in your life tomorrow. If you’ve lost a loved one, don’t be afraid to grieve and be real with people. It’s not an easy thing to go through. God will heal you, in time. He will take your broken heart and mend it back together. The grieving process is also a growing process. It’s in that moment that you will seek God or you will push Him away. Seek Him.
The last verse of this song gives peace along with God’s promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. “And as you cried, I cried with you. I’ll never leave. I’ll carry you through. Can’t you see that I was always there? These ashes of pain will fade.”
Read the lyrics below and listen to the song.
by Seventh Day Slumber
Saturdays have never been the same
And I still can’t believe you’re gone
So many things I wish that I could say
I guess the hardest part of moving on
Are these memories that have overtaken me
Once again I’m right here on my knees
I’m barely hanging on
With all these empty feelings
I’m hurting in so many ways
And though I can’t begin to understand the reason
I still believe that you’re GOD
Saturdays have never been the same
That moment keeps repeating in my mind
The ringing phone
A call that changed my world
An emptiness that words cannot define
All these memories have overtaken me
So once again I fall upon my knees
And as you cried I cried with you
I’ll never leave
I’ll carry you through
Can’t you see that I was always there?
These ashes of pain will fade