An Unexpected Celebration
April 15, 2015
By Laura DiFatta
Two weeks before Easter, I was driving down a street one afternoon that is not a part of my normal route. I had told my four-year-old about my favorite cherry tree and I was driving him to see it, hoping to catch it blooming. I had intended to go that morning, but a series of things happened that had delayed our little sight-seeing excursion. Now it was afternoon. We drove closer to where the beautiful tree was growing and I looked and saw… nothing. No blooms yet. But then something else caught my eye.
Up ahead in a nearby yard, I saw a woman on her knees with her back to the street. As I drove closer, I saw she was kneeling in front of a cross and she was carefully decorating the cross with greenery and a small flower-covered wreath. I had never met this woman, but I knew that she had been through deep sorrow. She had lost a son tragically sometime ago and I had prayed for her since the time her deep suffering began. In that moment, I felt compelled to tell her. So, I pulled my car over, stopped and rolled down my window. By that time, she had glanced up and was looking at me. I told her that I just wanted her to know that I had been praying for her and that I was so sorry for her pain. She stepped closer and said a quiet, “Thank you so much.” What she said next just really blew me away: “This is the anniversary of his death.”
I put my car in “Park,” got out and walked around to her and hugged her. We both cried.
During the time that we talked, she told me about her beautiful son who died. She told me about a man who had spent time with her son before he died and who was able to give them the assurance that their son knew and trusted Christ as his personal Savior. We praised God for that incomparable gift! She told me stories of people who had shared how much her son had meant to them, how he had been an encourager to many. We honored his life. She told me that her heart would never be fully healed here on earth, but we both agreed that one day, God will heal her heart fully in His Presence and that she will be with her precious boy again! I was able to marvel over this woman, who’s eyes told of such experienced pain, but who’s words from her heart told of her faith in the Christ who will make all things new! I said, “Thank God for the cross and what it represents: Jesus conquered death so that we could experience the Truth that the sting of it is truly gone, because death no longer has the last word or the ultimate victory! Jesus did and Jesus does! His words, “It is finished,” sealed that victory, so that our grief will turn to rejoicing.”
And for this one, her grief is already being transformed into victory. She said, “my faith is stronger now than it was before his death.” And I knew that, once again…
I was witnessing a miracle.
We both agreed that our meeting was no accident. We believed that God meant for her to know that He sees, He hears her. He sent an encourager in the faith at that time and place on the anniversary of her son’s death to put arms around her, to pray over her and to encourage her. And I left changed. Changed by her witness, her testimony, her personal experience of the surety of Jesus’ provision and Presence in the times of our deepest need as well as all our moments. Light shines brightest in darkness. Darkness will never overcome the Light!
We celebrated our Savior and Overcomer at the cross in her yard. And we honored the life of her son. I will never forget that moment in time with this fellow believer. Grace was not given to us at a cheap price. The greatest cost was paid so that victory over our sin and death problem was overcome on our behalf, so that we could stand in victory even in deep grief. That is not the final word of her son’s story or hers. You see, God writes the script. Always.
A little aside: while she and I were talking that afternoon, a man who has his own lawn service drove up and got out of his truck and walked over to us. He was jolly. I mean effervescent. We were teary and really into our conversation so his presence honestly felt intrusive. While we were both nice to him, I was relieved when he had to go. Before he walked away, he handed me one of his cards and handed one to her as well. We held them as we continued our conversation after he left. When I left her and got in my car, I tossed the lawn service card on the passenger seat and didn’t think of it again… That is, until later when I got in the car to pick up my teen son from school and I saw the card out of the corner of my eye.
I had been marveling all afternoon over the holy moment of God intersecting my path with that mom’s and over feeling God’s Presence with us there and over the hope that is ours as believers in Christ. When I saw that card again, I said out loud, “Lord, you were so all over that whole time this afternoon, I fully expect that you are all over the lawn service card, too. I fully expect that you have something to say on there.” I picked up the card and my eyes fell on these words:
“RELAX… GOD IS IN CONTROL”
What if we lived and thought like we believed that? In all our moments, in all our relationships, for ourselves, for our loved ones? Our world would be a very different place.
You can. Because He is.
The words of Jesus: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“For God, who said,’Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6