i can't imagine all the people that you know and the places that you go

I was sitting in Church this morning being challenged by a visiting pastor to think differently at the story found in John 4:43-54.  It’s a story of a father, grasping at straws for the healing of his son.  He goes to Jesus because he’s tried everything, he thinks his son is going to die so in a last ditch kind of effort he goes to Jesus and begs for Jesus to come with him to his son’s bedside and heal him.  The pastor was asking us to imagine with him what its like to be a parent trying to hold onto hope out of love for a child.  That the love for your child brings about a hope that requires you to have.  That’s a bit about what he was talking about, but that’s not what this post is about…
The pastor was calling on moments in his families life that help him relate to this story.  He showed pictures of his beautiful daughter and told stories of her struggles and achievements.  It was as if he was asking all the parents in the room to imagine with him what the father of this child was feeling in John.  Now, I’m all about relating the bible to stories in your own life to be able to identify (well most of the time), but I struggle with this at times being “that girl” whose childhood wasn’t all roses and butterflies.  So I’ll be a little honest, I was getting a tad bit grumpy.
Then I remembered this one memory of my childhood.  In all honesty, it was probably one of the most defining moments of my pre-adolescence.  I was in the 7th grade and was getting ready for this “teen night” at my school that was called Teen Canteen.  There’s dancing, sports, refreshments, games…it was the best night of the month to any 6-8th grader at Eric S Smith Middle School.  I remember this one particular night as I got ready there was a weird feeling in my house.  Something wasn’t quite right.  But being the 12-year-old girl that I was – I was more interested in how I looked for my night than to ask what was up with my family.  So I left for my night without concern.  I came home later that night to my dad sitting alone, in the dark, in our living room.  I walked in and saw that he had been crying.  I sat on the couch opposite of him and asked him what was wrong.  To this day I can almost see the two of us sitting there as he told me that one of my uncles, his brother-in-law, had committed suicide.
I remember thinking to myself “why hadn’t he told me before I left?”  I remember instantly feeling guilty for my night of fun because he had been at home, crying.  But as I grew up I realized that he knew this news was going to change me.  That my childhood would be shifted with this news and that he wanted one more night of normalcy for me before we had to talk about funerals, flights to Colorado, missing a school field trip.  I remember having to tell my choir teacher that I couldn’t go see Phantom of the Opera in the city because we were flying to Colorado for a funeral.  I remember all the looks of pity my teachers gave me as I got my homework to do on the plane.
I remember seeing the brokenness of my family in real and astonishingly new ways.  It was the first funeral I remember attending for someone I was close to.  I remember asking really hard questions about why and not getting answers.  But mostly I remember that was the last time I remember my dad having strength.  Something changed in him too, I can see it now all these years later.
I see this moment in my life as the first time I felt true pain, true brokenness.  It wouldn’t be for another few years that I would find Christ and understand for myself how hope and faith flow out of a love that is incomprehensible.
Which I think is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three: but the greatest of these is love.” (ESV).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *