As so many of you know, this has been a difficult week. Last Friday I was called to my best friend's side to spend what would be our final hours of this earthly life together, for by Saturday morning before 1am she would dance from her earthly body right into the arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While I have experienced more emotions than I thought humanly possible, life still goes on, and I am still here. In the moments after her passing, I turned to a friend and said, "I am so jealous of her! She is in GLORY! and we are... well... here."
I am certain the road ahead is unlike any I have traveled. Yet I am not shaken to the core. Yes, I am grieving, sad, have questions, and oh how my heart aches to tell my best friend all about it! In the first hours I asked the Lord, to protect my faith. It went something like this.
My heart is broken, yet I am still numb. I know as the numbness wears off, I am going to need you and not want you all at the same time. PLEASE guard my faith! Let this be a place where, though it is so hard and my heart feels it may explode, I want to stand firmly on your rock! I want to experience all I must to go to the other side of this storm still in your boat! PLEASE PROTECT MY FAITH." Amen
Soon that prayer changed to something like this.
I know you are faithful. I just can't see it right now. I know you are healer, I just can't see it right now. PLEASE SHOW ME YOUR FAITHFULNESS! Don't let my eyes be blind to your goodness....please Jesus, oh please let me see your faithfulness. Amen
Grief is a weird place. You feel things, say things, do things, that you never imagined doing. You are constantly told there is no "right" or "wrong" way to feel or grieve. Yet, when you feel sad, you are desperate to feel joy, begging at times for the pain of sadness to subside. On the rare occasion you feel joyful, guilt invades and doubt tries to sneak in. For me, the last week has been a fog. At some point I am sure I will share about those trying first 7 days. Today I want to share about, today.
Sunday April 28, 2013
Another thought came to mind that brought on the dull ache that seems to engulf all the air in your lungs. I would never again find a little Laura surprise by my front door. She was queen of passing by my house and leaving some love on my doorstep. Never ringing, the doorbell. She would stealthily sneak and place it on a empty plant stand I have sitting out there. Once she was in her car and well on her way she would call or text and let me know she had left something out there. That way I couldn't refuse her gift!
She left so many of these sweet gifts I could never remember them all. There are a few that stand out. Like the time I had told her that Michael and I had not had a date night in a while. She left a basket with sparkling grape juice, a candle, chocolates, a sweet card encouraging us to have a date after the kiddo's went to bed.
Then there were the signs she gave me, signs of her love of life!
Obviously I am mourning my loss. She is in amazing glory like none I've ever imagined. Last night my heart was broken as I thought about the little things I would never exchange with my friend at my doorstep. See sometimes I would leave her things to pick up there also. In my emotional place today, I decided to sort my scrapbook paper into colors. Yes, you know I'm barely hanging in there when I am cleaning/organizing ANYTHING! Then I heard a sound at my front door.
I couldn't stop them. Tears, big, ugly shoulder shaking tears as I opened the storm door to see my sweet friend Karen. She was standing there with flowers and two real sugar coke's in the old fashion glass bottles. Faithfulness. Plain and simple faithfulness. All day I had been struggling with God, talking with Him honestly about my need to see it, tangibly! He spoke my love language in incredible detail.
Fascinating, that the flower my sweet friend Karen just happen to drop off today were native flowers of the very land where God humbled himself and walked right along side humanity and sacrificed his life and spilt his blood for us to be reconciled to him! (Greek Mythology says that this flower was named after a young Greek boy two God's were fighting over and one accidentally killed him. Out of her grief the other grew this flower out of his spilt blood)
The phrase "sweet aroma" stood out to me as I read about this flower. As I researched this phrase in the bible I came upon something interesting. The phrase " sweet aroma to God" is repeated in the bible often. (trust me or do a simple search.) Every time it is being referred to a burnt offering, drink offering, or an offering of some kind. Here are a couple of the scriptures, but I encourage you to press in and do a search of your own.
Numbers 28:23-25 (NKJV)
23 You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular burnt offering. 24 In this manner you shall offer the food of the offering made by fire daily for seven days, as a sweet aroma to the Lord; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 25 And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work.
Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Nehemiah 8:9-11 (NKJV)
9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”
So when we offer a sacrifice to the Lord, and bring our true feelings to Him, allow Him to intervene on our behalf, our hearts start to line up with His will. He is about to bless the sacrifice even in that broken place and it is a sweet aroma to Him! Not our pain, but our willingness to follow Him, chase Him, trust Him, love Him, and pursue Him despite our pain! For the Joy of the Lord is my strength. That even when I am all but defeatedand it looks hopeless. Even when it looks as if He has NOTHING prepared for me. THIS DAY IS HOLY TO OUR LORD. So I will not sorrow, for I have made a choice that the JOY of the Lord will be my strength.
So what happens on the days I wake up overcome with sadness and the tears flow. I turn over press play on my worship play list and I bring him a sacrifice of praise, through my ugly tears and feelings asking Him to heal and change my heart. Asking Him to show me His faithfulness this day. For even when my eyes cant see it or my fingers can't touch it, and I am crying out GOD ARE YOU EVEN HERE? He is real, He is worthy, HE IS GOOD, He is for me! He is love! He says, I am Jehovah Shammah "God is there."
So she wasn't perfect. Because only Jesus is. But she was the perfect best friend for me. Our friendship was like none I have known before. I believe it was because it was Christ centered. I am forever changed because I never knew friendship could be so covering and encouraging. But now I know. She would say, WE taught each other how to have God centered sister in Christ relationship with the Holy Spirit showing us each step to take. Even right up until her very last earthly breath. Now I must continue Christ's legacy. A legacy that Laura had an amazing revelation about. We spent hours talking about our amazing Lord and His heart for His people. Right now I feel a bit like the Israelites when they were mourning Moses. Because in my everyday she was very much like a Moses to me. I feel God is or has already given her a glimpse into the promise land from the edge. And much like He did with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration, I believe He has redeemed her earthly disappointment when ultimate physically healing didn't come on April 20, 2013. He allowed her to lay hands on me, to pass the mantle. I am not my sweet friend. She was built in a way I never will be. But I am Jamie Cuffia. Exactly the way He intended me to be. Yes, He is refining me by the fire, and yes sometimes it is painful. BUT He loves me and He will go with me just as He walked Laura into her promise land, He so will walk me when my time has come. Until then, I will do my best to listen to His voice and walk in His ways, that even if one may come to know Him in true intimate relationship I can say it was worth it.
No she wasn't perfect, but Jesus was and is. He wants to be my best friend now. He gave me a great human best friend with an awesome heart for Him. Yet He keeps whispering to me that my relationship with Him can be just as tangible and fulfilling as my friendship with Laura. Nothing will replace the Laura size hole in my life. But Jesus can heal my heart whole!