On this day last year 11/12/13…

On this day last year (11/12/13), God moved in my heart and spoke very clearly to me about the kind of leader I was and needed to be. I wrote a blog about it later that week, which I have re-posted below.

I have been reflecting on all that God has done this year though, and I praise Him for His faithfulness to me and my family. It’s hard to be a grieving leader, but as A.W. Tower has said, “Before God can use you mightily, He has to wound you deeply.” Well, I have been wounded and now I pray God continues to use me for His glory…however He sees fit. Here was my post from last year:

Tuesday’s date was 11/12/13…an unique date for sure. It was a date some people found interesting or perhaps didn’t even notice, and a date many will probably forget. For me, 11/12/13 took on a new meaning though. For me 11/12/13 is a date I won’t forget. I won’t forget it, not because of its unique sequence, but rather because of some things God spoke to my heart.

It’s been a little over 2 months since Trey went to be with the Lord. Things have not gotten easier or harder…things have just changed. Emily and I and our children are learning to live with a broken heart. We are all trying to figure out the new normal. I know some people think I’m healing nicely, and I’m sure there are others who think I should heal faster, but the Lord is healing us in His time. Emily and I know things will never be the same, but we know that God will keep strengthening us and helping us move forward.

Our faith has never been stronger!!! I say it again, our faith is strong. Yes, we have wrestled with living what we know to be true at times, and getting the mind and the heart on the same page can be a challenge, but all in all, I think we are doing as well as can be expected. God continues to show Himself faithful to us and teach us what it means to truly trust Him. We are learning to trust Him deeply with our pain.

I have had some difficult, but meaningful conversations this week though. What’s interesting is that as a result of some of the conversations I have had, God really began moving in my heart. It’s hard to describe, but Tuesday was a turning point for me…a turning point that is difficult to even describe. I’m just learning daily how to live through the pain. One thing I’m realizing is that it is hard having a broken heart, but still having to be a spiritual leader. It’s hard to help people with their grief, when I still have a mountain of my own to deal with…but God has called and equipped me to pastor and shepherd people, and He is showing and teaching me how to do this more faithfully. I’m very grateful for God’s overwhelming, carrying grace. He reminded me this week that I am in the palm of His hand and He will see me through. I’m just discovering that God often uses hard things to speak to and change me…and I guess in a strange way, I am even learning to appreciate the hard things.

The challenge for me will be balancing it all…balancing my emotions; attitude; responses; thoughts; goals; desires; etc. I have to lead my wife…my children…my extended family…the church God has called me to…and on and on. The only way I will be able to do that effectively is by letting the Lord lead me. I know He is walking me! I know that all I really have to do is please Him! I know that no matter what, He is in control and He will provide all I need, in order for me to be who I need to be.

So…He spoke all that into my heart this Tuesday…that and much more. I needed it. I needed to be reminded that while others don’t know my heart, He does. He is walking with me. He is so good and so faithful. He understand my pain. He weeps and rejoices with me. He truly is the shepherd of MY soul. As the Psalmist said, “I love you oh Lord my strength!” And boy do I love the Lord.

One final thing…when Trey breathed his last breath and stepped into eternity with His Savior, I thought I was somewhat prepared for that. Emily and I had talked about the reality and possibility of his death many times. We talked to our kids about it. We wanted no one blind-sided. Well, all I can tell you is this: NOTHING, absolutely nothing can prepare you for such an event. Watching your precious child breathe their final breaths, even with the hope of heaven in your heart, may be the most heart wrenching experience in the world. While those moments shook our family to the core, what we have discovered is that God is everything He says He is and provides everything He said He would provide. He was with us in those moments…and most importantly, He was with Trey and carried Trey safely into His arms. Emily and I have been weak at times, and perhaps that is all you have seen of us…but in those moments of weakness, GOD HAS BEEN STRONG!!! When we struggle to breathe, He breathes for us. When we don’t want to get up, He lifts our head. When pressure and stress rises, He gives peace. So, we may not have handled everything perfectly…in fact, I know we haven’t, but I know this, in the midst of our darkest hours, our God has been 100% faithful to us. He has been perfect, because He is perfect. He has been patient with us and carried us along…and He will see us ALL THE WAY HOME!

We hope our journey has been nothing but an encouragement to you. We have tried to be real and honest and always point to the Lord. As I said though, I know we’ve messed up at times along the way, and if our journey and the way we have handled our journey has caused you to stumble in any way, I am sorry. We have only always ever wanted to point to Jesus through this journey…and I pray we have.

Keep praying for our family. We are healing. We are learning and adjusting to the new normal. And most importantly, we are experiencing a closeness to the Lord and each other like never before.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him.” -Nahum 1:7

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