Monday, July 2, 2012

truth in death

here's a fun fact you may not know about me...

i fainted at my wedding.
i recovered quickly but it still makes for a good story.
my uncle bill took those pictures.  he also captured our wedding day on video and when i received the finished copy of the dvd there was a chapter on the menu entitled 'elizabeth's joy' was the entire fainting episode...i loved that.  i loved my uncle bill.
last week uncle bill died unexpectedly of a heart attack.  

he was 54 years old.  he was a devoted husband to my aunt kathy.  he was a loving father to my cousins rebecca, mary beth and tim.  he was a joyous grandfather to his first grandson, luke.  those are all bits of information that you could read in his obituary but there is a much greater story that God has written with his life and the lives of those he influenced during his time with us on this side of heaven.  that story could fill volumes because my uncle bill lived a full abundant life.  
i sat behind my aunt and my cousins at the funeral on saturday.  i listened to bill's youngest child - my cousin tim - lead worship during a service honoring the life of his father.  i sat in awe as he sang out these words of praise...

...blessed be Your name, when i'm found in the desert place
though i walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name
every blessing You pour out i'll turn back to praise
when the darkness closes in, Lord, still i will say...
blessed be the name of the Lord... 

it was so significant to me to watch someone whose heart was clearly broken and grieving open his lips to praise the God who gives and takes away.  it was a beautiful picture of unshakable faith...a faith that he had seen lived out by his father...a gift left behind.

i wiped tears from my cheeks as my voice joined the voices of a room full of family and friends who took my cousin's lead in giving glory and honor to the One we can trust in life and in death...

in my weakness would You come?  help me stand up, help me run
to the shadow of Your wings and the comfort that it brings.
and i'll wait and be still.
and i'll know You are God, You are God.
i will love You and adore You.
i will trust You God.
i will sing in times of trouble
and i will trust You God.

i saw my aunt lift her arms in a gesture of surrender to the God who brings comfort to even the deepest pain.  i imagined her own fragile heart shattered into a million pieces as she faced the reality of life without her best friend...and i watched as she laid out all those tiny pieces on the altar of a God who promises to put them back together.  it was a beautiful picture of trust...the kind of trust that she and bill had lived out in their lives together...another precious gift left behind.

when i hugged my cousin tim after the service i looked at him and said - 'well done'.  he looked back and said - 'it wasn't me'...and i know that is true.

if we let him, God steps into our weakness...into our sorrow...into our darkness and pours out his Spirit full of strength and hope and light.  there is still pain.  there is still grieving to be done.  but i am so grateful to live in the legacy of a family who knows God's truth in death.  it is the same as His truth in life because He never changes...His promises remain the same {no matter how different we may be feeling}.

uncle bill's pastor said this of him...

he spent his life making and preserving memories with those he loved...but he always kept his eyes on eternity...

holding the memories of you, uncle bill...and looking ahead to our eternal reunion.