A week ago Friday morning I woke up angry.
Actually I had gone to bed angry the night before. Shep and I were in a disagreement about a particular issue. In my selfishness and anger~ I had shut down any and all conversation.
My phone had been silenced. It had been placed across the house in the kitchen and out of my sight.
Friday morning Shep woke me up with coffee and kind words. I was still irritated and I wanted him to know it. So I gave him the proverbial cold shoulder.
Once he left for work I got up and starting doing our usual morning routine.
I think I heard my phone vibrating on the counter. As I pulled up the messages I couldn't believe how many texts I had missed since the previous night.
It was an unusually large number for 6:00 in the morning.
As I started scrolling down I stopped mid text and my mind began to race....
There were several texts that I had missed from my friend Chelsey.
(Chelsey and I met 5 years ago on a mission trip. Our lives intersected at an ordained time by God. We could not be more different. She is a gorgeous tom boy...awesome at sports. I am very girly and would rather steer clear of a ball of any sort. She is also 12 years younger than I am. We are in different seasons of life. She is single. I am married with 3 kids. However we both love Jesus and we are both passionate in our pursuit. Somehow we settled into a mentoring type of relationship.)
As I read through the missed texts from her I soon learned that something beyond terrible had happened.
Chelsey's older sister, Kyra, had been killed in a horrible car incident.
I had to read the words out loud to even make sure that I was reading the text correctly.
As I read the text out loud I was hit with sudden and strangling fear.
Fear that these words were real. Fear that this wasn't a dream. Fear that my friend and her family were in mind-blowing shock and grief.
I was saddened and sick to my stomach.
I had gone to bed angry with my husband for ridiculous reasons. As I laid there stewing in my bed the previous night my friend was experiencing a horrible tragedy.
She had sent text after text trying to reach me...needing me.
I immediately called my husband and through sobs I began to explain to him what Chelsey's text had revealed. I asked his forgiveness for my anger and selfishness from the night before. All of a sudden a shrill perspective had shown light on my shallowness.
After that call I immediately began trying to get in touch with my Chelsey.
In the shock of the previous night's events she had broken her phone and needed me to help her get it fixed.
After dropping my kids off at school I headed straight to her parent's house to get her.
The whole way there I prayed for God's comfort and peace to overwhelm this family.
I prayed that I would know what to say and what NOT to say.
I asked God to help me not fall apart. I begged him for strength that I knew I did not have.
Kyra was the oldest of 3 girls. She was a missionary serving in Rome, Italy along with her husband, Reid. They were raising three of the cutest little girls you have ever seen. They were home for a 6 week break and were scheduled to fly back to Rome just 2 days after the accident.
As I pulled into the driveway, Chelsey came out the front door. We locked eyes and ran to each other.
That sweet gorgeous tall tom boy friend of mine melted in my arms. I melted with her. There was nothing else to do more appropriate at that moment than to cry, wail, and embrace.
This encounter would set the tone for the following week.
A person's grief is their own privilege to have. Witnessing that grief is also a privilege.
Chelsey spent her next days surrounded at her home by family and friends. The outpouring of love and support from their home church and community of believers was something to behold.
She would come to my house in the evenings and sleep here.
Night after night there was nothing to do but simply be a witness to the grace that was so obviously carrying her.
It was brutal.
Waves of grief would overtake her. Memories would flood. Reality remained in tact.
Shock and numbness took turns.
There was nothing to do but weather it with her. Sit. Listen. Cry.
I was somewhat braced for the brutality of this. I give God the credit for that. I believe He prepares and equips us for what He calls us to do.
But I was not braced for the beauty of it as well.
Several nights we would venture out onto the back deck. It would be close to midnight and all would be dark and still. Chelsey would play the guitar. I would sing. As she played songs of worship to God, a worship flowed forth that was the most beautiful thing I may have ever seen.
Words didn't come. Tears didn't even come. Just a melody from aching helpless hands strumming a guitar.
It was what she could do.
She couldn't pray. She was cried out. She couldn't plan. She couldn't answer the why's of it all.
She couldn't grasp. She couldn't change the outcome.
But she COULD play a song of praise to her God.
I almost felt like an intruder. This worship was other-worldly. It was her offering. Her sacrifice.
I just stared and watched the ministry of the Holy Spirit comfort in a way that is not humanly possible.
For children of God this should encourage and console us deeply.
Whenever our brutal moment of life occurs there will be One that is unseen but strongly felt. One that will sing beautiful songs of deliverance in the midst of our living hell.
This IS the essence of hope my friends.
These eyes have seen it.
Day after day I have beheld a smothering grief that was matched only by a surpassing grace.
Don't we need to know it?
Don't we need to know that the Spirit really does help us in our weakness? (Romans 8:26)
Don't we really need to know that grace is sufficiently given to us according to our need? (2 Corinthians 12:9)
As I think about the words brutal and beautiful they seem like polar extremes.
Death IS brutal.
The death of a vibrant young missionary wife and mother of three goes beyond even that.....unthinkable.
Only God could bring beauty in any of it.
Shattered dreams and broken pieces of this current pain will eventually make a gorgeous mosaic of His glory.
I don't know about you but I need to know that.
The same God that allowed Kyra to be taken from this world also watched His precious Son die a brutal death on a brutal cross.
The outcome brought us grace. Beautiful, life-giving, life-changing GRACE.
Those words~ brutal and beautiful. Brutal makes us want to turn our heads and run away, Beautiful beckons our eyes to look and take it in. One repels and one attracts. One incites fear and one brings peace. One makes us squirm and one appeals to our senses.
No one knows the length of time they have on this earth.
Kyra's time was brief.
Her impact was huge.
Her life spurs me on to imitate Jesus more. She served Jesus well by serving others well.
I still ache for the family.
I still have questions that will probably never get answered this side of heaven.
But I am also still entrusted with a misison.
Grief and lack of understanding do not give me a free pass to not exercise my faith.
I am very much alive.
One day my time will come and God will call me home.
But until then life is to be lived. God is to be glorified.
We move forward and become what is beautiful in a brutal and broken world.
Just as Kyra was...
"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ."
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
For anyone that would like to view the celebration of Kyra's life and ministry please click the link below.