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The Saddest Day Ever…

Recently, I was speaking with a friend who told me about a paper their son wrote for a school project. The child was about fourteen when he wrote this and it was a recollection of a day, five years earlier, that his parents were divorced. The title of the paper was, ‘The Saddest Day Ever.’ I do not know that feeling nor will I ever. My parents stayed together in spite of all the trouble life could bring.

When I think about family and being committed to that value over everything else, I remember sitting on a hill made of debris and rock, in Mandeville, Jamaica, when I was 27 years old, and discussing my family with my good friend, Chuck Quinley. Chuck and I go way Northside Church in Atlanta, Georgia, when we were preschoolers and rolling down the embankment in the church yard. Both families moved – his to LaGrange and then to Lilburn, mine to Lithia Springs. We saw each other growing up, at camps and such, and then attended college together at Lee University.

That day on the hill, I had been married six years and was desperate to find some connection, some equilibrium, some consolation. We talked about his amazing partnership with Sherry, his wife and how they had such a similar vision and heart for life. We talked about how we wanted to sit in a similar place when we were sixty and be able to tell our children the great stories of faithfulness and love that sustained us. We wanted to talk about the value of purity in relationship and to attend our children’s weddings with a sense of accomplishment that we had invested the right stuff into their lives. I’ll not forget those days together in Jamaica and how, upon returning to Chuck and Sherry’s home, just down the street, one of the first things I saw was my daughter playing in the carport with Chuck’s son. Those were our children, respectively, and we had our work cut out for us. I was inspired.

Now, here I am, twenty-one years removed from that moment. That daughter who played on the porch that day as a four-year old is now twenty-six. She has a heart of gold that has been refined by a fire of trouble and disappointment. She is passionate about things that really matter rather than the material and mundane. I have never had a value in my life that celebrated money and possessions over people. She possesses that same sense and then accentuated that value to a new level in her life pursuit as an advocate for marginalized humanity. I have two more daughters emerging into adulthood who are gifted and resonant, if not yet focused and guided toward their destiny.

That vision on the hill is flourishing in Chuck and floundering in me past that first daughter. Why? I think it all comes down to me. When confronted with the disparity of life I chose to fix myself instead of trust God. Maybe fixing myself is not an appropriate term. I chose to medicate myself. I saw no vision of change or hopefulness, so I resigned myself to futility and just looked for temporary fixes (that actually were anything but a fix.) I look at people who were/are in similar places as Chuck – a marriage with shared vision, passion, enjoyment and commonality. All those things are naturally possessed yet energetically guarded and cultivated by the parties involved.

A garden, no matter how rich and fertile the soil, will degenerate into a field of weeds without care. I see Chuck and Sherry as that fertile field that was worked, tilled, guarded and celebrated (Check it out – The Quinley Tribe.) I, on the other hand had different ground to work with. As in the parable of the seed, taught by Jesus, all ground is capable of sustaining life IF it is paid attention to. Dry and rocky ground CAN become a fertile field IF there is a shared vision. Vision is the key to EVERYTHING. Without vision people perish.

Chuck & Sherry had a vision that included every part and parcel and person of their home and family. That did not just happen, it was intentional. I, on the other hand, (and it seems I am only talking about me here, but it is because I take full responsibility for my actions and I cannot assign blame to my mate) had entered into marriage without the emotional health and balance to understand what I was doing, to succeed and to give a legacy of virtue to my children. That is sad, but I am not hopeless!

In every human lament and failure, if we find ourself breathing and able, there is hope. I do have a vision for and with my daughters as a family. I have a vision for their mom. I have a vision for myself. How can I have a vision on a day that I admit my failure? Because I have a God of promise.

In the historic book of Joel, in Scripture, God promises to restore what the predatory effects of life have stolen. Look at this poetic response of God’s love toward people who were devastated:

21-24 Fear not, Earth! Be glad and celebrate! God has done great things. Fear not, wild animals! The fields and meadows are greening up. The trees are bearing fruit again: a bumper crop of fig trees and vines! Children of Zion, celebrate! Be glad in your God. He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right— Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do. And plenty of food for your body—silos full of grain, casks of wine and barrels of olive oil.

25-27 “I’ll make up for the years of the locust, the great locust devastation— Locusts savage, locusts deadly, fierce locusts, locusts of doom, That great locust invasion I sent your way. You’ll eat your fill of good food. You’ll be full of praises to your God, The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder. Never again will my people be despised. You’ll know without question that I’m in the thick of life with Israel, That I’m your God, yes, your God, the one and only real God. Never again will my people be despised.

Recently, my life looked like it had been stolen (I may have been the predator myself.) My children have had to endure their ‘saddest day ever’ and my twenty-eight year marriage became a statistic. However, the story has not ended…with God every day gives new mercy, new hope, new possibilities and new provision. Will God make all things new or will he simple re-new what was?

It matters not. What matters is that God sees the saddest days…those with darkness and storms and

destructive winds and he penetrates, at an angle, the clouds and fog, and then, with his bright sunlight beams a multi-colored rainbow of promise that writes itself across the sky for all to see. There will be another day and it will be a day of promise, not sadness.

How do I know? The Bible tells me so….

“Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” (Revelation 21)

Sad days? Yes. The saddest day ever? Yes. The end? NO!

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