Grieving feels a lot like navigating through hostile territory without a map, or any defenses. There are moments I am grounded and solid in my acceptance of what transpired these past few weeks, and then out of nowhere I step on a grenade and my emotional leg gets blown off. Not being able to anticipate the landmines of sadness is unnerving at best, devastating at worst. I always need a plan. I want to know what happens next. I hate surprises. Grief is a jerk. It doesn’t care what I need. But God definitely does, and has shown His Hand at work in this circumstance long before it became a reality to me.
Early this past December I was having an incredibly bad day. Add to that the cold weather and the recent rain and my mood was almost as low as it had ever been. I needed hope, so as I drove east I turned on the radio to my favorite Christian station, and soaked in words I knew to BE true but I could not FEEL their truth. I needed something concrete from God. I wanted a tangible reminder that I had made the right decision and that He had my best interests at heart. I was vulnerable, exposed and desperate for reassurance.
As I rounded the corner, I looked to my left and arced perfectly over the cross on the steeple of a little white country church was the most brilliant rainbow I had ever seen. The scene struck me so profoundly that I pulled into the parking lot and took a picture and afterward prayed and thanked God. That rainbow was explicitly for me that day and I could not have felt more at peace. Just knowing He loved me was enough to quell the monster of insecurity from winning that day.
Fast forward almost 6 months later…God’s mighty hand has placed beauty and peace in every part of my being, building me up and creating in my life a foundation for my ultimate purpose. But suddenly there is no mom with whom to share my joy, leaving an empty place in my heart once again.
It was my job to coordinate mom’s memorial in West Virginia. I began looking for churches to host her memorial the day after she passed and got met with closed door after closed door. I had 5 days left until the actual memorial and less than 5 hours before my self-imposed deadline so I could let everyone know the location and give them time to plan accordingly. On my way back home from a meeting, I saw a car and stopped at the little church where my grandparents are buried. I knocked on every door, but got no response. As I got into my vehicle that day I prayed, “God, this is all you. I have no idea where else to look.”
As I drove, I listened to music and happened upon the same church that served as a backdrop of God’s promise that cold December day. There was a car in the parking lot and a fluffy white dog happily wagging his tail as I pulled in, ready to beg. There was no need for begging, however, as I talked with this couple and realized they were the parents of a wonderful friend of mine. Quickly we all came to the conclusion that God had predestined this meeting and the location for mom’s memorial was discovered.
Before my mom was even sick, God was setting the stage, preparing the prequel, laying the foundation…isn’t that just like Him? I can see it play out in so many aspects of my life when I allow Him to lead me. The path is not always easy, but when it’s His will, the doors open and hearts are prepared in ways only the creator of the universe can orchestrate. He didn’t have to send me a rainbow that day, and I had absolutely no idea the depth of that promise of peace at the time. Looking back on life, I see the ways He’s prepared me for what is next. Mom was an integral part of that preparation, as she helped make me the person I am today.
I’m ready to take on whatever it is God has planned for me, because I know He has gone before me and prepared the path, as He has for all of us who believe.