I can remember the moment like it was yesterday.
Sitting in my bathtub, of all places, and hearing someone calling from my front door,
I recognized Cheri’s voice immediately; and from my bathroom called back,
“Come on in.”
When your son has cancer and you’ve been told there’s nothing else the doctors can do,
you stop caring about the condition you’re in when someone stops by to see you.
Cheri walked right into my house and then right into my bathroom in search of me,
and there I sat in bubbles…………..
completely exposed emotionally and physically……………
and equally unconcerned about either one.
As she stood there in front of me,
I looked up in tears to see her holding a book.
“You have to read this,”
she passionately said as she placed it on the side of my tub.
I knew from the look in her eyes that this was more than a token,
“I hope this helps.”
She didn’t stay long (How long can you look at a friend who has nothing to hide?)
I picked up the book as I heard my front door shut.
If I’m honest, fiction was the furthest thing from what I thought I needed on that August day.
My son in a wheelchair, his days with us quickly passing.
My heart breaking in two.
How could I plow through something made up by an author when so much of my real life was falling apart?
I’m not sure how I found the strength to begin reading,
but I did.
Quickly, I found myself carried away into the life of a man who, much like me,
and doubting everything about his faith.
Tears ran down my face as I encountered a totally different version of Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit than I had ever encountered before;
and while I knew all along that this was just one author’s way of moving a character through his grief and pain,
he was also moving me through mine.
The Bible was my anchor through Nick’s entire journey and continues to be today,
but on that summer day in 2008,
The Shack was a life preserver.
I wept through so many of the chapters and found myself hiking through the woods and climbing over branches right along with Mack.
I’m not sure what happened as I turned the pages,
but I do know this.
My anger and fear somehow washed away enough for me to survive the next four horrific months.
Nick went Home on November 29th of that year,
and like Mack,
I have had to journey again and again to a place where I can see Nick running into the arms of Jesus……….
not my own.
Eight and a half years have passed since we said goodbye to our precious brown-eyed boy.
So much has happened since then.
And yet so much is still very much the same.
My heart still aches.
Tears still come.
Grief ambushes me at auctions, grocery stores, and all kinds of places I never dreamed possible.
I never want to stop missing my sweet Nick.
I never want to stop seeing his smile when I close my eyes.
I also never want to get so far from my own loss that I can’t feel pain when others are hurting.
Maybe that’s why God has led me to our county jail.
There’s something about the women I talk to there every week that reminds me…………………..
life is incredibly hard but God is in the midst of every single struggle.
I’ve shared about The Shack with the girls several times over the past few years,
but when they began to see the trailer for the movie from their cell,
it became even more real to them.
Ruthie, one of my friends from church who also ministers to these hurting ladies,
asked our church to order ten copies for each pod of women and we took them to the girls two weeks ago.
I’ve been back several times since the night we took this photograph,
and it’s been amazing to hear the women talk about how the book has spoken to them so personally.
There are plenty of things about The Shack that are controversial as far as doctrine goes,
but there’s enough in the book about wrestling with life’s deepest questions that makes it worth the read.
If you’re struggling with grief or heartache,
go to the Bible first……………..
But consider reading The Shack sometime too.
I have no idea what I’ll think of the movie next week,
but I’m taking Kleenex………………..
I know that for sure.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Thank you, RW, for allowing us to take the love of God to hurting women in Carter County every week.