Finding God in Death

Four months ago, my brother-in-law passed away suddenly.  He decided to go out for a run before going to get a haircut and his heart gave out on him.  He was only 35 years old and he was the closest thing I had to a brother.

I don’t want to say I feel lost without him, but it still hurts.  My wife is devastated as she practically raised him.   His three kids are trying to learn how to deal with their emotions at the loss and figure out how their lives will now go.  His widow is basically engaged to a man who doesn’t pay child support or have a job.

I judged her pretty harshly when I first found out, but that has past.  God has shown me some of her damages so I understand why she is doing what she is doing.  It doesn’t excuse the damage she is doing to her kids or the hurt she is causing others, but I understand it more and I have sympathy.

So many things have gone through my mind once I found out.  That is the first time in a long time that I have felt shock.  I had no clue what to do, but I knew I had to be strong for the family.  I am not sure if I had to be strong, but that is what I felt like I needed to do.  I have cried so many tears in private, but I sucked it up for the family.

I questioned my relationship with God while trying to process it.  Not if God was real, but why didn’t he warn me that this was going to happen.  What if it could have been prevented and I was just too busy to hear the warning.  I thought about Jesus and wondered if I should have tried to pray for him to awake and walk.  That one kind of sounds silly, but if we are supposed to do what Jesus did then why not?

I am thankful for the time I have had with him but I regret the missed opportunities.  he wasn’t a Christian but he really wanted to believe.  I understand why he struggled and I know God did too.  I am not sure if that means he is saved, but I sure hope so.

What if I wasn’t too busy and I could have shared more with him?  I could have talked to him more and maybe he would have believed.  I think it is human nature to blame ourselves to some degree, but as a Christian I still feel some guilt for not doing more.  I know salvation was between him and God, but our words and actions will play a bearing on how people will react.  We are warned not to have idle words as we are responsible, in part, for what comes of them.

The loss came on the heels of struggling with my relationship as I pursued my degree in religion.  I didn’t think that studying the thing I loved would be so detrimental, but I love God and not the religion.  You cant really study God.  Either you get to know Him or you don’t.  Studying Christianity without walking it out is probably why so many people lose their faith when they think they are pursuing God.

I am not sure where I will go from here, but I know God has been waiting for me.  He talks to me and the prophecy is starting to come back.  He has helped me through this grief.  This grief is like none that I have ever experienced before, but now I can better relate to those who have suddenly lost someone .  I don’t think God took him so that I would learn this lesson, but it is something I will take out of it.

I know I cannot do what makes me happy without God.  I try, but I am always miserable.  My wife can spot it immediately, even though I try and deny it.  I know God is real because He has changed me.  I know He is real because He never left me.  I know He is real because He is always with me.  I think my brother-in-law knew He was real, because of my relationship with Him.

Encountering God at a Funeral

When my grandmother passed away earlier this year, all of the male grandchildren and great grandchildren were asked to be pallbearers.  This was my first time as a pallbearer so I was not sure what to expect.  What if the casket is too heavy or if it drops.  I think these are normal thoughts that go through a person’s mind, but maybe not.

Well, all of the pallbearers were sitting together and you could see various stages of emotions cross their faces.  I often wonder what other people are thinking.  I could blindly assume we all think the same way, but that is ignorant and being that I am not very close to that side of my family, I am never really sure what they think.

The service was really nice.  There had been tension between the children on how everything should go, so there ended up being two pastors who spoke.  The first one was my father’s pastor, whom I knew, and the other one was the pastor at the church where my grandmother attended.  I say it like that as most of my family is Baptist, but they are going through a common stage where they are looking for something “more” spiritually.

I liked the Baptist pastor a lot.  I have never met the man before, but he was passionate and had a connection to God.  It was during his speech that I heard him talk about my grandmother’s faith.  She was devoted to church, but she had prayed everyday for her family.  I knew she had prayed, but no clue about the extent of her prayer life.  While I was sitting there, I was pulled out of my thoughts when I heard the young pastor talk about how she prayed for family and specifically one of them who never believed in God but had since turned their life over and was now saved.

That hit home with me as that is my story, but I had never talked to the pastor before so I figured he was talking about my uncle.  It was odd to hear that, but it reaffirmed that God works through prayer.

After the funeral, family and friends went to the local community center and ate and had fellowship with each other.  I questioned to my dad about what was said and he did not recall hearing that.  When I was able to speak to the young pastor about that portion of his sermon, he denied having said anything like that.

I was positive that I heard that being said, but with the pastor denying saying it, I knew it was the work of the Holy Spirit.    What I heard was meant for me and spoken by God.  Now it came through the voice of the pastor, at least as far I could tell, but I know God was letting me know that He had been present in my life since the beginning and that others have been praying for salvation since birth.

The feeling I got from that was and is still overwhelming.