I hope you find this blog to be a place where you can find encouragement and hope in Christ in the midst of everyday life.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grief, Grace, and Gratitude

Today is August 1. The date has rolled around in my head all day.  It has caused me to to cry big tears today and has slightly reopened a huge wound in my heart. Today should have been my daddy's birthday.  And it was a big one.  He would have been sixty years old today.  My family should have gotten together this weekend, poked fun at him, and given him some corny gifts.  We should have eaten strawberry cake. I should have heard him say, like he had over the last several years, "Well, you are over half my age, you know." A running joke between us.
None of it happened.  Most of you who know me know that daddy left us last year on December 19th. A gaping hole was left in our family just in time for Christmas and grief was an undiscussed part of our holidays.  For me, grief held its power over me for several weeks. I spent a great amount of time in my Bible and on my knees. I held on to the truth found in the lyrics of Christian music.  All of those things showed me and reminded me of the grace of our Lord and Savior and that grace was the balm that began to seal the wound that cut me to the core.
The reality of God's grace is what began to bring on peace.  The grace that my dad accepted as a young man in a small church where he attended a revival is the same grace that I accepted in a small church as a young woman. It's the grace that saves us. It's the grace that Christ is able to offer because of his death on the cross. It's the grace that assures us of our eternity. A verse from Ephesians 6 jumped out and grabbed me one day. It's verse 24.  It simply says "May God's grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ." (NLT) It is the closing sentence in the book of Ephesians. It can be the closing sentence on a life well lived here on this earth. God's grace extends beyond this life.  Realizing that my dad (and all of us who follow) is living eternally in God's grace began to bring on a new gratitude. Realizing that eternity belongs to our Lord made me more aware of his role in our present and how he marks our paths for us, making me even more grateful.
Most days I can think about my dad and talk about him without tears.  A grateful heart overflows with memories of things we did and words that he said to me.  I am even grateful for the difficult things he made me do and the challenges he gave me.  Most of all I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who gave us to each other and sculpted our family, who offered us the same grace, and promises us the same eternity. It makes the grief seem to fade away even on the big days.