This morning my family and a back yard full of friends prepare to celebrate the first year of John Luther’s life. He was actually born the morning of August 28th. My strong willed daughter perhaps holding out so that her child be born on the same day as her beloved maternal grandmother, Atha Setzer and his great aunt, Brenda Coker! Now he is the third birthday celebrated, a Trinitarian!

He is such a special young man, always smiling, stealing our hearts. Though I must say of late, he has learned much about the art of manipulation. He is brilliant, for at the age of one, he knows how to move from a radiant smile, a gentle hug, to a face that stops half way between inner joy and a frown. You guessed it, just at the moment that he senses potential denial of whatever he might desire!

This kid has a future that is amazing, though he may at times tax God! Hey, so did his grandpa! Enough of the doting grandfather stuff, but it was so real in my heart this morning as I was praying.

I am reading a book, that has stared at me for about three months, since first receiving it at our local City-wide prayer meeting in May of this year. The book by Jan Harrison is entitled, Life After the Storm. Built around the tragic loss of a son, she is able to minister to those stuck in grief, and seems to have a grip on the reality and necessity of mourning.

How does that relate to my life and why would I begin a post on grief with paragraphs describing celebration? Already I suspect that you are experiencing my inner turmoil. It seems to be my gifting! My devotional time this a.m. seemed a set up! The book’s message so timely, as so often seems to be the case in my life. Someone drops a book into my hands; I take it home and place it beside my morning reading chair. Eventually I pick it up and it begins to read me!

How could I be grieving at such a wonderful moment in our lives? What would I have to mourn, being so blessed?

In Harrison’s words, “Greif is defined as mental distress. It’s the factual knowledge that we possess intellectually of an intense loss we have suffered.” She then goes on, “Mourning is the physical and emotional activity that helps me process my pain and loss and learn to accept them.” Those two sentences articulated such valuable insight.

Life is about struggle, if your life is making a difference. However, it often seems to take a death, the loss of a marriage, a wayward child to bring this struggle to the fore in a way, that our emotional façade is no longer able to cover it. Fortunately for me, and for you, God always provides a way of escape that we might be able to bear it.

For me, in this most difficult season, when everything my life has been about seems at times in question, a child was born. John Luther’s birth has been a Bethlehem moment for me, now six years into a message about foreclosure, to the institution that I so love, the Church. As well, almost 20 years into my calling to this city, so perhaps what you hear is my tiring?

When I cry out to God in my distress and anguish, He reminds me of the gifts he has given me, the “just in time” provision he always brings, and the fact, that I am a friend of The “I Am.”

That is enough, and suddenly my weeping turns into dancing, and my heart finds new strength for the struggle!

“He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5

Joyfully, I follow my friend!

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