For just over a year now I have been walking out an assignment from God. This is not an assignment I wanted, and to be honest I would give back parts of it if I could. It was not an expected assignment or one I prayed for before laying my head down at night, yet here I am in the midst of it. Now just because I didn't want it doesn't mean I could not have refused it, I could have been disobedient. The assignment I have been given came to me on the 1st of August 2020, just two days after I stood in a hospital room and consented to removing my 37 year old husband from life support. As I begun the steps of planning my husband's funeral God spoke to me. He did not speak to me audibly, but He answered the question I was crying out to Him. My question was "What do I do now?" I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I wanted to climb inside of the casket and lay down next to my husband and pretend that his heart was still beating. I wanted to ignore the earthly reality that my husband was dead. But, that is not the answer God gave me. Instead, He told me that I was going to glorify Him. He answered the question of why I was still living on earth when my beautiful, strong, miracle husband was going to be buried underground. I was still living simply to bring Him glory, bring Him praise, to show the world that my God has conquered death, and that He is bigger than my pain, and I was told to do it through telling my husband's story, and soon after mine.
He started by telling me that I needed to give the eulogy at Mark's funeral, that I needed to share his testimony. Mark's eulogy was somehow the easiest thing to write, it came straight from my heart to my fingers. I cried as I wrote and I cried as I rehearsed. I chose songs and verses that confirmed the truth I knew in my heart, that Mark had been raised from death to life, that he was reaping the reward of being a good and faithful servant, that he had received his rightful inheritance as a child of the King. I woke up the morning of his funeral and got dressed, got the kids ready, and drove the 15 miles from home to the church. I remember feeling nauseous. I remember thinking that I should have planned the funeral for later in the day because mornings were the hardest. I remember getting stuck in receiving lines I wasn't trying to create. I remember holding my two year old above the casket to hear her ask "My daddy sleeping? Wake him up." And I remember sitting in a chair in the conference room unable to move when the service was about to begin. The thought of going through the motions to bury my husband was greater than my body could bear, but when God gives you an assignment He gives you the strength to complete it. When the time came I stood and walked to the stage and I shared what God had put on my heart. You can read my first blog post if you haven't heard the full text. I shared who Mark was, the man I had fallen in love with, how he served the Lord, the redemption story he had been blessed with, and how grateful that I was to know he was with Christ. I knew that day that it wouldn't be the last time I would share Mark's testimony, because his story truly is a miracle. We walked out of the sanctuary during the procession to one of Mark's favorite songs, "Made Alive." I have linked it below but the lyrics go like this:
"You have bought me back with the riches of
Your amazing grace and relentless love
I'm made alive forever with You, life forever
By Your grace I'm saved, by Your grace I'm saved"
It is a summary of Mark's testimony, and truly the testimony of every Christ follower on earth, saved by the mighty grace of God.
Since Mark's funeral I have been given many opportunities to share his story, and many to share about my journey. How our stories glorify God are different, but both so beautiful. I know that when Mark died the devil hoped to use my pain to take me far from God, to turn my face away and deny His goodness. I also know that my relentless hope and faith that God still has a plan for me is how I will continue to glorify Him. I know that the devil hates this enough to bring persecution against me. He has brought accusations, attacks on my character, theft, illness, broken bones, teenage hormones, and requests to stop sharing Mark's testimony. Its interesting to think that any one could be mad at me for repeating a story that my husband told me, but people have. I have been accused of tarnishing his name, speaking ill of the dead, and bringing disgrace to his family. To this I have a few words of response: Mark's slate was washed entirely clean when he found Jesus, his past doesn't define him, if anything it just makes him even more incredible. Even if the story Mark told me and so many more of his life is not entirely true, something still bound him. Something still had a grip so tight on his heart that he chose to chase it rather than chase God, and it really doesn't matter what that thing was; gangs, drugs, women, alcohol, violence, etc. So many things keep people from seeking fulfillment in God, and it is always a celebration in heaven when they choose to put God on the throne and release their heart from bondage. Lastly, Mark never gave me a reason to doubt that his story was true, so I will choose to believe him. Attacks and persecution will continue, but the perseverance will only be an opportunity to trust that God will continue to sustain me.
As I continue to walk out this assignment from God I know there will be days I am ready to quit, days when I reach my breaking point, days where I have to call for back up, and days where I still ask God to take it all away and bring me back my husband, but one thing is certain, I cannot deny the assignment has been placed on my life. I am grateful for those who have chosen to walk beside me, by giving me opportunities to share, by praying for my daily strength, who cook me meals and watch my children, I know these are gifts given to me by God.
"I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do."