One of the new features of my Blog is that I will have Guest Bloggers post from time to time. This will usually be when I’ve read something that stirs my heart, and want to share it with you. That’s what I’m doing today.
My brother left his wife and three teenage kids several years ago. (See, I told you I was just like you with messy families and the whole bit.) My sister-in-law has remained one of my best friends and his children are like my own.
Having a father desert them has not been easy; it has been down right hard. But today, they are all three amazing married adults who love God, and who have served or are now serving in some facet of ministry.
The following blog is by Jonathan Edwards…one of those kids now grown.
If you have ever wondered what goes on in the heart of a boy whose dad has left him longing on the front porch, a boy child now grown, here’s a glimpse. May I introduce my guest blogger for today, my nephew Jonathan…A lot of things change when your parents remarry.
Someone else’s house becomes your house. Someone else’s children become your brothers and your sisters. Someone else’s bed becomes your bed. Someone else’s couch becomes your couch. Someone else’s laundry detergent becomes your laundry detergent.
And you don’t use that kind.
And now your clothes smell weird.
Now your clothes smell like someone else.
Someone else’s house. Not yours.
But things change. Environments are different. Homes rearrange and evolve and add and subtract.
It blends together.
You may not have had a basketball goal before.
But now you do.
You may not have had a swing in the yard.
But now you do.
You may not have had your own bedroom.
But now you do.
You may not have had an upstairs.
But now you do.
You may not have had a dog.
But now you do.
You may not have had a cat.
But now you do.
At least, that is my story.
You see, I am not a huge animal person. [That phrase not defending the idea or concept that I am not a very large, tall, hybrid human being that’s also some form of animal]. Sure, I like a cute, chubby puppy. I think elephants are cool. And that BBC show where they put British voices behind animal mannerisms is absolutely hilarious…
Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan! [Confused? Click on Alan]
But that’s a groundhog, not a cat. And I am not fond of cats. They just…get up…I don’t even know how to explain it. They’re just not for me. But the thing is, when my mom and stepdad got married 4 years ago and mom moved into Rusty’s house, Rusty had a cat. Her name was Gracie. And she lived outside. So, nothing really to get used to except for when we sat on the deck there now was a cat rubbing up against our feet and legs purring for some cheese. But still.
For 4 years that was the scene. And really, it was longer than that. Mom and Rusty dated for close to 7 years before getting married so Gracie was all up in our business long before 2009.
Just a few months ago Gracie began to get very weak and lose a lot of weight. She was tired. She slept a lot. She wasn’t asking for much cheese anymore.
She was dying.
Sadness overcame me. I was so confused why I was so sad and emotionally altered by the news because frankly, I never was super fond of her presence. I didn’t understand it.
A few weeks later, she died. Rusty found her on the front porch, curled up, not breathing. And without knowing why, I cried. I cried about a cat. I was upset about a cat. I was emotionally broken because of a cat.
Why a cat?
It’s because death is unsettling. It’s sad. It’s heartbreaking. No matter how you look at it or who or what it is, it’s loss.
It’s out of place.
Death doesn’t belong.
You see, Romans 5 gives a wonderful snapshot of history for us. It tells us that through sin, death entered the world through one man, Adam. Death through sin. This wasn’t how things were supposed to be. This wasn’t God’s picture of life in the garden. God intended life, not the absence of it. But after Genesis 3, death is on the scene.
Death is out of place.
My heart understood this and broke because of this months ago at the death of my stepdad’s cat. I was moved. It was uncomfortable. But let me say, oh how I wish that was the only breaking my heart would do in regards to understanding and dealing with this unwelcome thing.
Right this second, my 27-year old college roommate is dying due to organ complications related to his 18-month battle with leukemia. With his body in a place where it can’t fully recover due to infection and surgery and cancer, there are mere days, maybe weeks, left for his life.
This doesn’t belong.
This doesn’t make sense.
This is out of place.
This situation forces my mind in all sorts of directions. All sorts of doubts and questions and fears and confusion and pleas and demands and cries. It’s frustrating. It’s confusing. It’s gut-wrenching.
And through all of it, I can’t face it. I can’t take it in. I can’t believe it. I can’t process it. I don’t know how to look at the days, weeks, months, years ahead in a way where Jay isn’t around. That’s not a world I can fathom. It’s not a world I can picture.
All I can do is sit in front of my computer and look through photo albums on Facebook. I look at pictures of us in the Domican Republic in 2006. I look at us at his wedding in 2008. I look at us at Hunter’s wedding in 2009. I look at us singing songs in our apartment in 2007. I look at us at football games. I look at us playing Apples to Apples. I look at us at my Grandma’s house in South Carolina.
I look back.
I look back and think, “Who in their right mind would’ve thought we’d be here?”
My heart breaks. My eyes leak. My nose runs.
And my mind roams to 2004 when I first saw Jay in our freshman Poly-Sci class as he was dozing off, wearing a Young Life shirt that looked like the Price Is Right logo. We studied our tails off that semester in what would become one long foundational hilarious memory for our friendship.
Tinsley Yarborough’s Freshman Political Science – Fall 2004.
And now this.
The story doesn’t end where we left off in Romans 5.
There’s good news.
There’s Great News.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous…so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Thank you Jesus.
Earlier Paul writes that while we were still weak Jesus died for the ungodly at just the right time.
No, death doesn’t belong. But the great news is that we were not left to that. God knew death didn’t belong and so he came and did what needed to be done.
He himself came to defeat death by dying.
But the grand nature of it all is that death was not the end of it. He died and 72 hours later He, Jesus, arose. He punched death in the face.
And so while we mourn during times and seasons of death, we rejoice, for it is by death we are brought to life. It is in the death and resurrection of Jesus we hope. We rejoice that because of Jesus, as the Scriptures tell us, we share in his death but we also share in his resurrection.
May the Spirit grant us strength and hope to cling to the truth of the sacrifice of Christ.
May we be grateful for all that Christ has done on our behalf to defeat death and declare freedom and life for those who trust in His name and believe He is who He says He is and that He did what He said He would do.
Jay – I love you very much and so thankful for you and your life lived for the glory of Jesus. For His fame. And His name. Best roommate ever.
Thank you Jesus for yourself and how you make broken people whole again and give us life.
If you would like to join Jonathan in giving thanks, leave a comment and thank Jesus for how He makes broken people whole again and gives us life.
Thank You Jonathon for sharing not only wisdom but the journey and the truth. You reminded us that you are always with us and we can make it with you from Glory to Glory even in the mist of sut wrenching change & death.
So true, so touching. Thank you.
This is so timely. Thank you Jonathan for sharing your heart. I am leaving in a few hours, to see my uncle who is in a cancer hospital with leukemia. He is on life support and life is slowly slipping away. Many family members there do not know Christ. I will be sharing your beautiful words and heart with them. I am sorry your dear friend is losing his fight and your heart is breaking. God is near. He never leaves us and He never wastes our pain. I will be praying for your friend and his family, and for you.
Jonathan, I grew up in a divorced home and know full well what you experienced. I also have lost friends and famiily to death; but it does not end there. Death is the vehicle to get us to the other side where our Heavenly Father is! Praise The Lord! Thank you Jonathan for sharing your heart with us. May our Heavnly Father give you his peace in dealing with the loss of your friend this side of heaven. However, you will see him again and spend eternity with him! Lord bless you and keep you!
That was amazing. Thank you for sharing that. It has given me a whole new perspective on life and death. It also shows me that we (ourselves) have to die on order to enjoy the abundant life that God has promised.
Thank you, Jonathan and Sharon!
Thank you so much for your inspirational words. In this life on Earth, there are circumstances that we encounter that don’t seem fair, but we have hope in knowing that this is not our permanent home. God bless you!
thank you for sharing that! It was so good and helpful.
I am praying the Lord continues to encourage your heart. a powerful peice of writing and what a name to have! From a sunny Wales, Uk
So blessed this morning! Thanks Jonathan! Last night we had family devotions and my kids and I discussed death! We talked about Victory through Jesus Christ! I will share your blog with them!! Praying for Jay and his family/friends who love him!!!
As a divorced mother who has remarried, I found your reality as a child of divorce compelling. My husband & I have a ministry with couples called ‘Considering Divorce’. I will share your blog with those who are parents. Many times over the years since my parents divorced I have sobbed at losses not really sure why with such depth. You have shared much that will touch other such children. Thank you for this important message about grieving and death. Bless you for this budding ministry. Pauline
This moves me beyond words. As women, we regularly dive into and dissect and discuss the meaning and emotions of life. It can be easy to forget that men are just as perplexed and challenged emotionally. For that reason your writing was profound and fresh. Thank you for your honesty and for the humility it took to expose your heart.
I was very blessed to read this blog. My heart was moved and softened and I laughed and cried.
Thank you for sharing… Praying for you!
Wow, what an amazing blog, it is always great to me reminded what we already know in our mind and hearts, but sometimes put on the back burner. Did my heart good to read this and be reminded what Christ did for us.
Jonathan, Thanks for this, just what my heart needed. BTW, My eyes leak all the time 🙂
Blessings to you as you keep walking by faith, with a tender heart leading the way.
We will rejoice in Heaven one day with our loved ones and there will be no more tears,
so enjoy them now while you can.
Yeah, that monster is not the final hoorah! Thanks be to Jesus my lord., Death is swallowed up in victory! Tears come now as i reflect on those loved ones who’ve gone on before me! I wasnt ready to let my husband or my Dad go but ‘God has given me beauty for my ashes, strength for my fears. I love you God and i trust your love, comes what may!
Thank you for that. I needed that.
Thank you Jonathan!
I love the Lord, and thank him for mercy. He makes all things new.
Sending some songs ur way Johnathan, The second one is for your friend Jay
God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind, when you dont understand, when you cant see his,plan, trust his heart. ( words of a song that i am dedicating to you).
His strength is perfect, when our strength is gone, he’ll carry us when we cant carry on, grace in his power tho weak become strong. His stength is perfect, his strength is perfect.
We can only know, the power that he holds, when we truly see, how deep our weakness. No great success to show, no glory of my own, yet in my weakness he is there to let me know… His stength when our……….(chorus)
Thank you Johnathan, I needed that!
My Dad passed away a little over 2 months ago…There are many days when I need to remind myself that he is in a better place and free from pain. Your blog helped me do that today!
Awesome! Blessed me!
Jonathan, thankyou so much for your post. You put into words exactly how I feel….death doesn’t belong. And it hurts so much watching someone you love slowly leaving. And no matter low long we have to mentally and emotionly prepare for it, it hurts so much daily. And you also reminded me, we’re not the only ones going thu this. There are days when it hurts so much I feel like i’m gonna go crazy. And then days where i’m at peace with it. I think when my son is happy, im happy, but when he’s sick, I feel like I can’t take another of it. But I do know God is here with us because He shows Himself in so many ways, like reading your post. Thankyou again and God Bless You!
Thank you God for allowing Jonathon to share this beautiful story with us. Thank you Lord for your daily dose of grace and mercy!
Jonathan, I am excited! I get to leave a comment. Poignant. Stirred my heart again. My ministry partner, Gwen Smith, said that you “kicked death to the curb.” Love you.
WOW! What a beautiful picture of our Lord’s mercy and grace and peace and life that He gives us everyday in the good and bad(what doesn’t belong) of our days. Thank you for sharing your heart!
Thank you so much for sharing Jonathan, Jay it will be much better soon. Thank You Jesus for Blessed Assurance.
Thank you Jonathan for sharing your blog, your journey, and the truth. Death can be a glorious thing to those who know and love Christ and have accepted His salvation. And we, who are left behind by those who go on before us, should celebrate their new lives in Christ! Thank you again for sharing. God bless you!
Jonathan: Thank for you for the poignant remember that death and its grieving is only one path on the highway of life. That we are on a highway leading to a glorious family reunion with Jesus Christ our Savior.
My step dad just passed away 11/10 & we are now planning his memorial. Thanks for your message & having so much in common with me.
WOW….This was great. Thank you Jesus for making us whole again and thank you Jonathan for your obedience.
Jonathan, thanks for the inspiring message. God has NEVER failed us. He will keep your friend in perfect peace and will grant you peace that passeth ALL understanding. Be blessed!
Oh my! I soooooo enjoyed your blog Jonathan!! I can see that writing runs in your family!! 🙂 Please keep up the “God” work. I will be praying that God will bless you with His peace as your friend Jay transforms into his new life.
Thank you Jesus for taking my brokenness and making me whole.
Thankyou. Thankyou for your wisdom, insight, honesty and frankness. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that life is like a woven tapestry. We see the tangles and knots underneath; God sees the beautiful masterpiece that He is weaving from above and sees the finished article in His mind’s eye. Often it is the darkest colours that showcase the glimpses of pure beauty eg. like pearls set in a black velvet display case, diamond stars in an inky sky or golden embers in the fireplace of a dark room. God truly does work all things together for good, for those that love Him. When my Gran died back in 2007, it was especially painful for my Mum, because my Gran had led a troubled life, plagued by hurts of a tormented childhood, and this had had a knock-on affect on my Mum, her brother and her Dad. But her Dad was a godly and compassionate man & he daily prayed for his family. After he died (indeed before), Mum continued to pray for, love and support her Mum and brother through thick and thin; good and bad. And there were bad times, and troubled times too. When Gran finally went to be with her maker, Mum grieved that despite everything, she had never been as close to her, as she herself was/is to myself and my siblings. All this had left an even deeper scar on her brother, my uncle, as he had no Heavenly Father to run to and seek refuge in. But God…! God had plans for my uncle-even though he had absolutely no idea about it!! God had heard the prayers of my Mum and her father before her. For the 20 years that Grandad had on this earth with my uncle, he prayed for him. For the forty years that followed, Mum prayed for him. And last month, at the tender age of 60, my uncle finally found God as his Lord and Saviour; his Abba Father! Heaven had a party…and my Grandparents were there! So God does indeed hear the deep cries of our hearts and, in His pperfect time, He moves and works miracles; works all the threads of our lives, together for our good.
Thank you, Sharon, for allowing us to read your nephew’s inspiring devotional today, and thank you Jonathan, for sharing your insight. Thank you most of all to our Heavenly Father for reaching out to us and teaching us understanding and compassion through the purring of a cat and the courage of a good friend with grace. God uses all His creatures – each and every one of us is a part of His Grand Design…including His 2-legged ones! : > }
Very meaningful and poignant. Again, thank you!
God is always there to put us back together when death tears us apart and leaves us ravished, doubting and broken……if we ask, if we pray….peace will come to our broken hearts and peace will make them whole again…..
A beautiful devotional that has touched me as well as your reader’s responses. Thank you!
Thank you Jesus for healing broken people likemyself, you see 15 years ago before i knew Jesus as my Savior He helped me out of the darkness that i was in, i wanted to take my life and in His perfect time He restored me.Thank you Jesus,my children are now grown,when i see what awesome adults they are i can only see the grace the Lord has for me.THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN JESUS
Thank you Jesus…for healing a broken person like me…I give you all the praise..Thank you God
Thank you LORD JESUS CHRIST because of YOUR death and resurrection I am born again and righteous!!!!
In JESUS’ name
Hi there. I just read your blog now. Im thankful for Jesus too. He is my everything. See im a daughter of divorced parents. I suffered. And then I married a man who had a son of a previous marriage. He leaves with us and our two own sons. There are very hard times. Sometimes I make it harder, sometimes he makes it harder. Overall it is hard. But Jesus is my hope. Sorry for your loss. My husband is losing his father also from cancer. But Jesus is our hope. Thank you.
Just had a chance to read this! AMAZING! God bless both these young men! We need more “examples of Christ” like these fellas!
Praying for peace, purpose & power in this situation – for all!
God Bless YOU!!
Inspiring. So much so that I checked out Jonathan’s blog and read several of his posts. His insight encourages and gives hope to the struggling.
thank you Jonathan, it is so true, God is really amazing. So far He has been carrying me and my children trough our difficult time Also a husband and father that abandoned his family after 27 years. God is supplying our daily needs. He has been and still is my Comforter, Friend , Husband and my daily Food. Your story is so inspiring.
Thank you, Jonathan, for sharing your story in such a tender and God fearing way. You have such insight and I pray you will find His perfect peace as you support and love your friend during this time. God bless you always.
Thank you, Jonathan, for sharing this tender and encouraging story. God bless you and God bless Jay. I love it that our lives are enriched, blessed and comforted by the people we connect to in this life. I’m sure Jay’s journey has been a bit easier because of you. Thank you, Jesus.
Jonathan, thanks for your encouraging words about death. I know that this is in very, very late, but I have daughters who go to High School and they have experience death through there friends. ( suicide) Our town is small so we know a lot of people and if we don’t know them we know of them. My oldest daughter can’t grasp the understanding of death. I am going to show her this and I pray that she will understand. Please pray for her because she has a lot of question about the bible and God. She believes in God, but she is having trouble understanding the trinity. I tried to explain it but I am just her mom. I don’t think she listens. Please pray that she will find a great church when she leave to college. Thanks again Jonathan and thank your Auntie Sharon in doing this blog.
In Jesus name!
Jonathan and I am very sorry about your friend. It does hurt but I understand all to well.