I wanted to send a quick thank you to all of you who have said a prayer for me today, April 03, 2014, six years to the day since Justin’s faith was made sight. On this day I could have never have imagined that God would allow me to remember such a beautiful soul, my late husband Justin, while hearing my new daughter sing at her Honor Choir performance. The words she sang… ”I gotta tell everybody I feel GOOOOD!” And that is what I plan to do…I feel grateful and blessed to have been holding Justin’s memory in my heart standing next to my new husband Corbett as we watched our daughter Katy sing her little heart out. Upon reflecting over the past six years…God has been faithful. God has been good. That doesn’t mean that sorrow doesn’t exist, that longing doesn’t persist, that grief is not part of our lives, but in the most basic framework of my faith, I believe that HE IS A GOOD GOD.
It was a morning exactly like this one six years ago. It is funny, but I don’t seem to miss Justin more today than I did yesterday, and tomorrow I think I will simply miss him the same. I have an aching miss for him on a daily basis, so dates coming and going- while significant in time and marking miles in the journey- do not seem to ravage my heart like one might think. I believe God has brought me to a place of gratefulness for simply knowing Justin. I pray you might find comfort in the simple blessing of knowing your loved ones as part of your life’s journey as well. I will stand and say as I have so many times before….we serve a God of redemption. He has promised us beauty for our ashes, and because he never breaks his promises we can hold him to it!
Some years ago, my co-worker (I will call Sally to maintain her privacy) from the Sheldon Middle School came in to my classroom after school. I could tell Sally was on edge and a bit jittery to say the least. She said that she had a dream that seemed so vivid to her, and she needed to tell me. After considerable prayer for weeks on end she got up the courage to tell me what she had encountered in this dream which she believed to be from the Lord. She had never met Justin but started out by saying, “Gosh…he was just a kind man wasn’t he? He was just a friendly, warm guy…and his laugh. I just loved his nature…”
I’ll never forget that conversation with Sally in my classroom, because what she said next seared me. She said that she had a dream where she met Justin face to face. She knew she might sound crazy for saying it, but she believed she was supposed to tell me anyway. A little backdrop to my prayer life prior to this conversation with Sally is that at that time in my widowhood I was praying a daily prayer that was a secret little prayer between me and God…sometimes multiple times a day. The prayer I prayed was for God to bring my future husband into my life, to grow his character in faith…a man who loved Jesus more than he could ever love me…and that he would be a worshiper involved in the same ministry passions as I was…and last but not least to give me babies! A big list I know…but none the less I prayed it! As you know, God answered that prayer 2 months ago when I actually married my worship pastor husband Corbett Reeves and committed my life to him and our children. Another secret part to this prayer was for God to tell Justin that I loved him. Why? I don’t know…it was just an ache in my heart that Justin would hear the words from God or maybe one of God’s messengers…”Bep just spoke with God, and wants you to know that she hasn’t forgotten about you. She wants you to know that she still loves you even though she longs for her new husband.” Loyalty…loss…grief…maybe a little bit of guilt I supposed oozed in those prayers, but God is bigger than that!
As if Justin actually needed my love anymore since he had experienced the agape love of Jesus, but never the less in my grief stricken prayers that is what I prayed…but back to Sally-
Sally said, “Justin wants me to tell you something. In the dream he told me to tell you that He KNOWS you love him. He knows. It is okay for you to fall in love again. He knows. He knows. He knows you love him! He also said that in Heaven he has a mansion picked out. He wants you to you know that someday soon you are going to meet someone, and that man will be what you need and who God has chosen for you. And when you find him don’t be scared. Justin said that in Heaven there are many mansions and they are big enough for you, him, and your next husband. And you will all live there together…there is room enough for you all! It’s okay.”
Now, if you know Sally, she is incredibly wise, humble, NO DRAMA-seriously. She is about as low key as they come. This message coming from her gave me permission to love again. To pray that prayer for the man of who Corbett Reeves would someday be with an even deeper belief that he existed! My personal take is that God works through his Spirit in mysterious ways that I will never understand. For me to judge who or what spoke that message to Sally is NOT the point or my concern, but rather, I do believe that as I prayed through that conversation I felt the warmth of a community of people both in heaven and on earth who cared and wanted the best for me. Like Sally, many of you have loved me well…you have spoken truth, cried with and for me, encouraged me in evangelism and my speaking platform through my life story. You have supported the Ebenezer Benevolent Fund Ministry and in doing so have been part of the greater community of Christ to 44 families that the fund has ministered to. You have affirmed me in giving up real health insurance and a stable paycheck to pursue my MDiv which is crazy in the world’s standards, and you have helped usher me into a new season of life- standing behind me with tears of joy as I walked down the aisle a second time. You have embraced my new family while allowing me to cherish those of my past! Yes. You are my Christian community. I am grateful. I am grateful. I am so very grateful.
Today, six years later, I have met the man who I call husband. The message that the Spirit spoke through Sally’s dream was to me, prophetic and affirming. As Justin was called to love me for a season of my life…Corbett is exactly the man that God chose to love me in this season of life. He loves me well-I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful. I’m so very grateful. I recalled to Sheri, my mother-in-law today that the first time I took Corb to Justin’s grave he wrapped his arms around me and held me as I cried. He said, “I didn’t know Justin, but I love him. I love who he was to you…I know he was a good man who loved Jesus. I love you, Bep.” To be loved twice is something that I can’t fully show my gratitude for! And the best part is that in our eternal future through Jesus Christ we’ve all got a mansion waiting for us, and there is room for all of us together. I hope all of you, my Christian community, will be under our roof! Amen for that!
I’m not sure if you hold a spirit of gratefulness or not, but my prayer is that God would bring you to that point in the grief process of whatever it is you grieve in this life. The 11 months we walked together as a community of believers during Justin’s illness are a season in which we ought not to forget…for some of us we are not able to forget, for we are who we are in the name of Jesus because of seeing his faithfulness in the midst of the ash. Hopefully, six years later we can pick out a few beauty marks from the healing redemption of Jesus…only scars remain. I do pray that God will grant you what you stand in need of today as you remember your beloved ones in your life-Today I remember a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, a pastor, a friend, a faithful servant of Christ. I love you all.