It's been a while. A lot has changed since I last visited this space in 2019. Some of those things have been incredibly hard and painful. Some have been sweet. Lately, I've been feeling a stir to write again. I came here expecting to write about the Amish Preacher and apple pie, but I think that story will wait.
When I came to this space today I found half a dozen unpublished posts from when I wanted to write out things but didn't want them to be public. Reading through those left me with an incredible sense of gratitude to the Lord. He has been so good. It seems right today to publish those old drafts even some that are unfinished and leave this small reintroduction of sorts.
This was our last family photo. Tim passed away in August, August 4th, four years ago today. It is surreal still at times.
So much has changed in those four years. Naturally, the kids have grown like crazy. They've matured in many ways. I think Tim would be tickled with how Kellen has grown to love the great outdoors and Lydia's budding love of backpacking. He would be pleased with Nolan's growing sense of responsibility and work ethic. He would enjoy Vivian's get it done attitude. And we would talk about how we raised them to be independent and responsible and how maybe we did too good of job with that independence part.
I think Tim would have enjoyed living back in Ohio, living a more "normal" life without the farm, and I know he would have cherished the fellowship we have here.
So much has changed in my heart in regards to the Lord in this time. There is a much greater dependency on Him, a much more real knowing of Him, and a lot less of me in all that. That has changed and continues to change things not only deep in my heart, but also the outer things. Tim's heart was always tender toward the Lord and I so wish he was here to talk with, to walk with, to seek the Lord with.
I don't like it, and I don't fully understand why it had to be this way, but there is truth in "We know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) When things are difficult even unbearable, when we are broken and turn to the Lord that is for our good. "Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up." (Hosea 6:1) The Lord is good. He is always good even when we don't like or understand the things that are happening around us.
I miss Tim everyday. Though very painful, I can see the love of God and the good that has come out of this difficult thing. Four years.
Two and a half years. . . I guess it is like this with most major life events. It seems like yesterday. It seems like another lifetime ago. I am not sure what I expected two and a half years later to look like. I am not sure I thought it out that far, but I am pretty certain I thought it would feel more normal. Life doesn't feel "normal."
Sure we have found a new normal, a routine to our days, a functioning. Our life in many ways now is easier, less stressful, less busy, but there is that constant underlying emptiness, that loneliness, huge gaping holes that can't be filled by anything on this earth. I've tried. At best my attempts are momentary distractions. At worst they have only led to more frustration and pain.
In what seems to be an excruciatingly slow process I am learning to stand there in that emptiness and loneliness, look to Him for all things, to wait, and to be led by Him. And in small moments I can feel that light, peace, and joy, and what is real, true, and lasting.
For months now I keep coming back to Psalm 23. I am sure it is familiar to you. You've probably heard it at a funeral at some point where it is applied to our physical death.
The Narrow Path - August 3
Feeling desirous at all times you may do well, I cannot but endeavor to revive in your remembrance the necessity of attending with all diligence to the small, gentle intimations and reproofs of the Holy Spirit of Truth in your own minds. Keep near to its blessed instructions at all times and it will preserve you in every season of trial and difficulty, and as an inexhaustible fountain, sustain your little minds when depressed with anxious thoughts or discouraging fears. This alone is the way to happiness here or blessedness hereafter. For in obedience to this light in our minds, we are brought to love the Lord our most gracious Redeemer above all, and by Him are regarded as his children, which is treasure indeed, that raises the spirit above earthly pleasures to a sense of the unspeakable comforts in the regions of immortal bliss. Here in this state the fear of death is taken away, because we know that in the presence of the Lord there is life, and as we are kept near him, nothing can hurt us. Now, my dear children, let me earnestly entreat you, to mind the reproofs which you feel for doing wrong; this is the Spirit of Truth I have been speaking of, and as you carefully attend to it, it will lead into all truth—you will fear to offend by a repetition of those things, for which you have been reproved. It penetrates through every covering, and no dissimulation can possibly escape its all-searching power. Whenever through unwatchfulness you have given way to temptation, and by the merciful calls of this holy teacher you become sensible of it, retire alone, and endeavor to get your minds drawn from every outward thing, to a reverential waiting upon your Holy Creator for a renewal of his light and grace upon you, that you may be strengthened to resist the enemy of all good in his future attempts; and be sure to avoid those things that have thus beguiled you and brought distress upon the tender mind; for in this watchful state your minds will often be tendered, and at times sincere petitions will ascend for preservation and support in this world of vanity and trouble.
Your affectionate father,
- J. Evans
Today is the second anniversary of Tim's death. I truly try to tell myself these dates on a calendar don't mean anything, but they do. They are reminders. They bring up memories, and it hit me hard this week. The coming of it was worse than the actual day. The Lord also uses these times to bring me back to Him. I've been unwatchfull. I've allowed my heart to stray toward the hope of something here in the earth without following the Lord.
I am concerned that we have come to Christ, to show that Christ in heaven is our Life, Christ in heaven is our All, and appointed to be so by God, and nothing here can take the place of Christ. God will bring everything to an end that takes the place of Christ. He has determined from eternity that in all things Christ should have the preeminence, and have the fullness, and that nothing shall glory before Him or take His place. The Lord bring us into a larger measure of Christ, and a larger measure of Christ into us. -T. Austin Sparks
O how safe, how quiet is that state, where the soul stands in pure obedience to the voice of Christ, and a watchful care is maintained, not to follow the voice of the stranger! Here, Christ is felt to be our Shepherd; and under his leading people are brought to a stability; and where he does not lead forward, we are bound in the bonds of pure love, to stand still and wait upon him. - J. Woolman
These two excerpts came in daily emails I receive. Perhaps on the surface they seem unrelated, but in my heart and combined with conversation at group last night about bringing all our relationships, all our thoughts about ourselves and others to the light and allowing Him prune and sanctify these things they go hand in hand.
I've been shaken. I've had many difficult circumstances in my life, but none compare to the loss of Tim. In this shaking many things have come to the surface. Old hurts, old insecurities, and lacks which I thought I was past have once again risen to the surface. I realize now Tim and our life was the balm that soothed them. It was the place I found my life. The loss of Tim leaves a huge gaping hole and room for these things to show their ugly faces again.
The past year and a half has been very much about filling empty spaces and figuring out who I am without Tim. My head knows the right answer is Christ should fill those empty space. He will heal and cover the old wounds and the new. He should be larger. I should stay small and get smaller. But my heart is impatient. It reaches for things that can't satisfy. I try to fill those empty places with things that let me ignore the hurts for a moment, and think I know how to fix me and my life. I don't.
I have had moments of great peace, love, rest and hope. The Lord has been so good to me through this process, but there are also times of wilderness. In these times the loneliness is unbearable and I feel unable to "stand still and wait upon him," and my heart wanders to my version of golden calves and idols.
In this last week or so I've been feeling like the conversations from group, like the T. Austin Sparks quote, that all must be found in Christ. It isn't just about the bad things or the distractions, though I certainly struggle with those. It really is about all things, even those we would call good here on earth. I need a very loose grip (or none at all) on those things to let Him show me them in His light, to allow things to happen (or not) in His timing and to be content regardless. I need to know that last orders are standing orders and when I don't know what to do or where to turn the only thing is to "stand still and wait upon him."
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