You Are Loved

Several years ago, on Good Friday, our pastor announced that our church would be open all day for anyone who would like to spend time in quiet prayer and meditation.  I had not taken advantage of this before and decided that this would be the time to do it.  I wish I could say my prayer life is characterized by strength and consistency, but in fact it is more likely to be weak and sporadic.  So I determined that I would plan to go to the church, spend time in prayer and wait.  More than talking to God I wanted to hear from God.  I planned to wait as long as necessary.

The church was dim, with music playing softly and communion was available to anyone who chose to partake.  There were only a few others there when I arrived.  I found a place by myself and sat quietly to pray.  In my mind I moved through my normal ritual of prayer.  (Do you have that too?  A customary way of beginning and moving through the things you want to say to God.)  As I made my way through this routine, I told God that I wanted to hear from Him.  I was willing to stay as long as necessary and to listen to whatever He wanted to say.  More than ever I just wanted to hear from God.  It wasn’t a matter of proving my faith, but a matter of wanting to hear and experience something from God – something fresh, something reassuring.

I confess that as I sat there — silent, waiting — the voices in my head continued to run on.  (Why are there so many voices in my head?  So many thoughts and ideas running in various directions.)  As each one spoke up I chose to quiet it, to gently sweep it aside for another time.  This was a time for listening only.  As the minutes passed the voices grew fewer and quieter, until finally — silence.  I don’t know how long I sat in the silence of my mind – the time was not important.  The being available and the being open to God is what was important.

And then it happened.  He spoke.  He spoke as clearly to me as though He was sitting in the next chair.  His voice was audible to my heart.  He said, “You are loved.”  Just that quickly.  Just that simply.  Just that beautifully.  You cannot imagine what it was like (or perhaps you can).  “You are loved” He said.  What assurance.  What comfort.  What peace and warmth flowed into my heart.  Here I was, ready to hear anything He had to say.  And He chose to say, “You are loved.”  He didn’t say, “You are a sinner”, though I am.  He didn’t list the areas of my life that need to be worked on, cleaned up or improved.  He didn’t scold me for my weak and inconsistent prayer life.  He could have said all these things and more.  But in my most available moment to hear from Him, He chose to tell me that I am loved.  Even as I write this it brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.

So why do I bring this up now?  In fact, it is the Christmas season, not Easter.  We are hurrying around with all the details we require of ourselves during the holidays while trying to remember the reason for the season.  We can all recite John 3:16 – God gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life.  But don’t forget how that verse begins – For God so loved the world.  Jesus came because God loves me.  I am loved.  Everything He has done is because He loves.  Everything He will do is because He loves.

You are loved.


It seems true that the first year is the most difficult.  The first holidays and the first time you pass those special days are the hardest.  Perhaps because you’re not sure you’ll make it.  Not sure if you’ll be able to get out of bed.  Not sure if you’ll be able to breathe.  But you do.  And then comes the second set of days and milestones and you manage to live through those too.

As I move through the advent season this year – the season of waiting and hoping – I wait and hope as well.  I wait for the coming of Christ and I hope in the promises He made the first time he came.  But my waiting and hoping cannot be done in a vacuum.

John 10:10 tells me that Christ came to give me life and life more abundantly.  I know that Michael is not dead; he lives with Christ.  And so my waiting and my hope is in the coming again of Christ and that I will see Michael (and so many other loved ones) again.  I know that Michael’s life now is so much greater than anything I know and he is experiencing an abundance that I can only imagine.

But I also know that this life of abundance is available to me now.  Not only life, but abundant life.  It’s true that my heart still aches because Michael isn’t here and sometimes the tears still fall.  But I will not go through life wearing black.  I will not isolate myself from the world and spend my days in mourning.  I will not perpetuate sadness to those around me when the world provides more than enough sadness of its own.  I do not visit his grave daily to wait and have long conversations with him there.  To live this way wouldn’t honor the life Michael and I shared.  It wouldn’t be an example to my children of how to live once I am gone.  It wouldn’t be consistent with the life that Christ came and died so that I could have.

For everything there is a season.  And I will not live the rest of my life stuck in one season of sadness.  I miss Michael today and I think I will miss him every day for as long as I live here on earth.  But I will not go through life looking downcast and avoiding the celebrations.  I choose to celebrate and laugh.  I choose to be a part of my family’s milestones and  to pursue the adventures ahead.  I choose life.  I choose the life and the abundance that God has provided through the sacrifice of His Son.  May I never discount all that He came to do for me by being stuck in a season of mourning and sadness.

Good Job Michael!

I had an interesting phone call this week.  It was from a gentleman from whom we have leased a building for over 25 years.  He called about some business matters but the conversation quickly turned to Michael.

He was telling me how sorry he was to hear about Michael’s death and that he couldn’t believe he didn’t know about it until recently.  “I think about Michael every day”, he said.  “Really! Every day!”  I must admit I was a bit surprised.   I know that through the years Michael had befriended the man in addition to doing business with him.  But I didn’t know he would have been that affected in his daily life.  He went on to tell me this story.

“I’m Catholic,” he said.  “I was raised Catholic and go to a Catholic church.  But, like most Catholics, I never read the Bible or had my own copy.  Several years ago Michael gave me a Bible, one of the ones that’s easy to read.  I read a little of it.  Then I thought I should take a class to learn more about it.  I took a ten week class where we met each week and watched a video, then sat around and discussed it.  After that I took a class about the Old Testament and then a class about the New Testament.  For the last two-and-a-half years I’ve been studying and reading my Bible.  The more I read it the more I know that what it says is true.  That’s why I think about Michael every day.”

Now don’t take all of this man’s observations as my own.  But I have to tell you, in that moment, I was so proud.  So proud of Michael who took the initiative to give this man a Bible.  I’m sure he prayed about it, both before and after he gave it to him.  And even though Michael’s not here, that Bible is still here, still leading this man in the word of God, still moving in his heart and in his life to bring him closer to God.  We never know what impact our actions can have on others, even after we’re gone.

I must admit – after I ended my phone call with this gentleman, I looked up and said out loud,  “You did good, Michael. You did real good.”


It’s been over 18 months since Michael died.  There have been so many emotions, up and down and all over the place.  But now comes a new one.

These last weeks I’ve been preparing to speak to a local group of ladies.  Today I sat down to put all my thoughts together.  As I did I came to an unexpected realization.  I am at peace.

Now I don’t know what the different stages of grief are.  I have stubbornly refused to read up on them and have set aside all the books people have so graciously sent to me on the subject.  So I don’t know if this is “normal” or not.  I just know that as I worked through writing today on a different subject I realized that I am now at peace.  It doesn’t change my circumstances.  I still look at his grave marker and the empty side of the bed and wonder how it is possible that I am here and he isn’t.  I still think of him every day and miss him every minute.  And yet God has given me peace.  Surely, this is His peace which surpasses all understanding.