Since Levi's death, I have had this recurring day-mare (what else should we call a nightmare one has during waking hours?): some unknown someone takes a high-powered handgun and blasts a huge, gaping hole -- not in my son, but in my family.
The truth is out: Karen and I have confessed to each other we both told God, independently, in June of this year to please do whatever He needed in our lives to make us fully, completely HIS.
Whatever He needed, that is, short of taking one of our kids.
We both had visualized, in our most private, unspoken quiet times, how unimaginably unbearable it would be if the day ever came when we would have to bury one of our sweet, adorable scrumplings.
What we never, ever imagined was how the loss of "just one" would mean the irreversible transformation of all. Like a row of dominoes, or like the "ripple effect" of chucking a rock into a placid body of water; the effects seem to just go on and on without end. At times I have felt like I was fighting with all my might (which has been so ridiculously puny as to be almost comical, in a tragic sort of way) for the sheer survival of "the Richards clan that was."
But this week, thank God! there have been brilliant flashes of light on that dark horizon. As I've stood by and watched in kind of a lazy, sleepy lethargy, God has wonderfully answered prayer. People who hurt us apologized; folks we've been praying for had breakthroughs, and, almost unbelievably, my kids actually seem to be looking forward to our Christmas together -- the much-feared, much-dreaded FIRST Christmas without our "Wivs" (Levi's childhood nickname that stuck).
I can't actually even say specifically what all the "brilliant flashes" are; it would give away items of prayer that must remain confidential. But trust me, they are there -- side by side with all the grim realities that STILL darken that same horizon. And for that, I breathe an enormous sigh of relief, and remember to thank my faithful God.
And I would like to say, please, for the record, that HE WAS STILL "MY FAITHFUL GOD" when the horizon appeared ALL DARK AND CLOUDY, with nary a flash to be seen!
We can often give the impression that God is faithful and good BECAUSE He has just come through for us the way we wanted Him to. But He is EVER the same God (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8), whether we get the outcome we desired or not! I thank God that enough of His "quick and powerful" Word has somehow found its way into the crevices of my thick skull and lodged there that I have not seriously doubted His sovereignty, His justice, or His love for little old unworthy Ern for even a fleeting moment.
He was still "my faithful God" all throughout that one sole, solitary, twenty-four hour window when we were out of cell phone range and couldn't receive the call from Levi's manager informing us he had not shown up for work.
And He was STILL "my faithful God" at the very moment my son's 19-year old heart stopped cold, and our beloved Wivs passed from our grasp into His everlasting Arms.
Thank you, my dear LORD God, for your unending, unfailing and uninterrupted Goodness!