At the time of my writing this closing epilogue, it’s almost been six years since the life of my oldest daughter Elizabeth was stolen by suicide. Looking back now, I know it’s the grace, love, and power of God that has not only sustained us but propelled us into continued healing and blessings. So many divine connections have been made, and doors opened. God’s favor is continually shown in ways that have transcended human logic and wisdom, and time, chance, and random processes. I can tell story after story of Eternity intersecting with time and stepping in to heal and lead us. Trust me, it’s not been an easy road to walk; I can tell you that. I think about Elizabeth every day, and look forward to when I’ll see her again, along with my dad, little brother, and others who have passed on. But not until I’ve lived a long life and accomplished everything God has purposed in me.
When I first embarked on this journey of growth and healing, I had a blunt and honest conversation with God. “God, you said in the Bible that you work everything together for good – well, let’s see you use all this.” For me, it had come down to only two options – option one: hold onto the grief, trying to compartmentalize it all, which would have led me down a dark road of anger, depression, and eventually destruction. Then there was option two: close my eyes, take a deep breath, lift my leg over the side of the boat, and step on the water. I took an eternal risk and placed my life-bet on God. I said to Him, “alright God, I’M ALL IN!. You’re my only option – let’s see what you’ve got”. I followed through with my wager in God’s Promises by leveraging resources He’d already put in front of me.
In addition to praying to my Father in Heaven and reading His Word, I leaned on the pillars of holistic counseling and strong mentorship. I immersed myself in the rehabilitation of my heart, which in turn helped sharpen and refine the vision in my mind. I discovered a lot in the process, not the least of which is what I’ve come to call a “Divine Golden Thread” that has been woven into the fabric of my life before I was even born. Once I knew where to look, I could see those golden stitches on every corner and square of my life’s tapestry – encounters, relationships, and circumstances that had been so perfectly timed, they seemed to laugh at the words’ coincidence’ and ‘luck.’ The more I looked, the more could see God’s master craftsmanship. That’s not to say everything I’ve experienced was good, though. Throughout this book, I’ve shared a steady drumbeat of disaster that defies comprehension for most people. Yet, despite it all, I have what has proved to be an unmovable anchor to my soul in an Eternal Hope who has held me steady and provided me safe harbor in the worst of storms and heaviest of seas.
Unmovable Hope is the only thing that can withstand such unimaginable tragedy. Anything less simply will not do. Violent storms and massive waves will forcibly push against everything in their path. The only thing that’ll keep us secure is an anchor stronger than the tempest. In the middle of the maelstrom, I clung to Hope until my knuckles turned white; surviving, healing, and then growing through these storms would have been impossible without an unmovable anchor and the safe harbor of a loving God. I embraced this perspective through the open-minded faith of a child. I had to press the ‘I believe’ button, regardless of what my natural eyes saw or what my mortal heart felt. Daily, I intentionally chose to say out loud, “ok God, I believe you. We both know this stuff sucks, but I’m trusting you to keep your promises – no matter what, you’re still GOD and you’re still GOOD.”
My perspective on everything changed. I saw what I’d walked through, not as a burden to carry, but as an opportunity to steward. I was reminded of a parable told by Jesus who was explaining the God’s Kingdom economy. Jesus told about three employees who, based on their abilities, were each entrusted with a certain amount of money by their wealthy boss. Many of us have heard this story preached in church, but it took on a whole new perspective for me. When the boss returned; he asked his employees for an account of the money. The first and second employees explained that they’d strategically invested what they’d been entrusted with, successfully doubling the original value. The boss was pleased and rewarded them for their excellent work.
Meanwhile, the third employee handed back the same amount of money he was entrusted with, without ever investing it. Instead, he’d grudgingly buried it in the ground, waiting to simply hand it back when the boss returned. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out well for the third guy. In fact, it took more effort for the third employee to dig the hole and bury the money than at least take to take it to the bank so it could gain some type of interest while it sat there.
Some would say that trials and tribulations I’ve walked through aren’t a valuable currency worth investing. If anything, they might even say God actually shortchanged me, especially compared to how other people have been blessed. I mean, what good could possibly come from all the terrible things that happened? That’s when I had an ah-ha moment, and the lightbulb came on. All of a sudden, this story of stewardship, which I’ve heard so many times before, took on an added layer of meaning. Our life experiences – pleasant and unpleasant, joyful and painful – are all forms of currency that we’re stewarded with. The commonly held myth is that only the good ones are worth investing in. Still, reality shows good things are all too often squandered by those who don’t appreciate what they’ve been entrusted with. Likewise, many people would say that tragedy, trials, and trauma are just best buried in a hole. I realized that how we employ our ability to steward is what makes the difference – the leveraging of ability comes down to our choice. Will we invest or will we bury?
For me, the choice was clear. Just like the third employee in the story Jesus told, burying what I was entrusted with would have actually been more work, but with no return. Burying what I’d been through in a hole symbolized staying wounded, wallowing in misery, turning bitter, and getting sucked into a victim mindset. That’s a lot of work – and there is no positive return on that investment. And so, I chose to use those abilities and gifts that God has given me and approached Him with His Kingdom’s economy attitude of stewardship. God said He uses “”“all things”, well here’s a bunch of “all things” that I chose to strategically invest in faith, trusting God that it’ll bring massive compound interest of profound benefit to others; so that people who are searching for answers and feel like they’ve run out of options can look and see that there is an unmovable HOPE.
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When my mission on the high seas of life is over, and I sail into Homeport, come along pier side, and set the mooring lines for the last time, I’ll say “Request permission to go ashore”. I want to hear my Lord and Captain say to me, “Permission granted – well done good and faithful servant…”