Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gretchen's Journey...Part 3.. Love Without Measure...

With every journey, we travel over are twist, turns and sometimes our direction goes in ways we never anticipated.  Below is the 3rd part of this story... if you missed Part 1 or 2, go back and start from the beginning!

Love Without Measure~
(part 3)

It was the beginning of summer 2009 when I learned news that would change my life again. I got home from work, to find my husband waiting for me, and I knew right away that something was wrong. Gently, he held me and told me that Derek had been in a car accident and did not make it. He told me Derek’s parents wanted to talk to me. What? Why, God? How could this be? The questions flooded my heart and mind. The pain I felt was so intense I didn’t know what to do, but I did what I knew to do and tried to figure out a way to “be strong”. I felt the arms of my husband holding me, but nothing could ease the sting of this pain. There were no answers, only more questions. I knew in my head that God’s love was still there, but I couldn’t feel it. I just felt brokenhearted and alone.

That night I picked up the phone, and dialed the number to Derek’s parent’s house. It felt so strange. I wasn’t supposed to have that number, or be able to talk to them. This wasn’t the way I wanted to “meet” them. Maybe this was all just a bad dream. But no, it wasn’t a dream. As I held the phone, being as brave as I could be, I heard a man’s voice. It hadn’t changed a bit since the day I heard it when I told them that they would be receiving a baby. But today, there was no joy, only sadness. He told me about the car accident, and asked me to pray for them, and commented that maybe I shouldn’t have chosen them after all. I tried to stay strong for them, but inside I was dying. I knew that if my pain was this deep, they had to be hurting even more.

The days that followed seemed like years. I tried to pull myself together enough to go to work, and continue on, but I couldn’t. Once again, the staff at the adoption agency began to pour out God’s love to me without measure. They supported me as I chose to go to Derek’s funeral as well as in the months ahead. Numbed by the reality that my son was dead, and I would never hug him again in this life, I needed to know answers to my questions. Was he a Christian? Would I see him again in eternity? What was he like?

Nuggets of truth became gifts of love from the Lord along the journey to Derek’s funeral. He was 16 when he died, and I remember thinking that the Lord may have spared him from the heartache associated with lessons teenagers learn. I remembered how proud Derek was of the Firebird that he was driving when he went off the road. He told me about it for the first time when he was 8. I was comforted by the words at the top of his list of things he was thankful for… “I’m thankful for my birthmother”. And I was anxious to see the town that he grew up in, yet hoped that I could remain anonymous for the adoptive family’s sake.

At the funeral, I sat in the back with my mother, who traveled with me. I was glad she was there with me, but it was very strange all the same. We watched and listened, and tried to blend in. I was scared that I would cry too hard, but I had cried so many tears, that I think there weren’t any left for that hour. We watched as students, friends, and family gathered to honor Derek’s life. We listened to the testimony that was shared by his pastors, assuring me that he had a real relationship with Christ, and that one day I would see him again. I saw the pain in his parent’s eyes, and shared their pain in my own heart.

Again, in the middle of my pain, the Lord met me with comfort from His Word. The pastor at the funeral reminded us that it was because of God’s grace that we could have salvation and eternal joy and hope. Over the next several weeks, the Lord brought me back to that truth over and over. In Ephesians 2, I was reminded of God’s love that is given freely without measure. I treasured the verses I read, as they brought comfort….real comfort. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” vs 4; I knew those words were true, but they began to take on more meaning. Now I knew what “great love” was, love without measure. I read on to verse five, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”. This verse had much different meaning to me now… because of Christ who gave love, grace and salvation… I would one day be alive together again in eternity with my son and others who had passed into eternity.

I counted many blessings as I heard the stories about Derek’s life. How he brought joy to those around him, and how he always smiled. It made me smile inside when they described his laughter and energy, because I knew that was something that came from me. One of his teachers sat behind me, and commented about what a “good boy” Derek was, and how he always did a great job, even if he was having fun while he was doing it. I was proud of him.

Before we left that little town, we stopped by Derek’s grave. The questions had been answered… It was not a dream. He was really dead. He was a Christian. I would see him again, someday. As we walked up to his grave, the grave digger was there, and asked how we knew Derek. “Friends of the family”, I said, hoping he would not ask questions I could not answer without giving out information that I was not supposed to. “Well, he was a really great boy”, he said, “we’ll all miss him”. As I took a flower from the grave to put in my Bible,  I turned to get back in the car and return to my husband and children who were waiting for me at home. I knew that somehow, I had to find the strength to continue on as a wife and mom to these people, in spite of the loss I felt. I wondered if time would ease the pain.

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