John 1:6 God sent a man, John the Baptist, 7 to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. 8 John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. 9 , who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. NLT
I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have more clearly seen the “Light.” I really can’t even understand it myself. As odd as it is to write these words in the midst of grief over my husbands death, I feel the power of love, life, and thankfulness and light more completely than ever before.
This is my important testimony to you: The Light that has broken through the darkness of grief reminds me the “birth that comes from God” does so much more than overcome the darkness of death. You can depend on Jesus’s promise to give light to every circumstance of life…even death…so you can be comforted to continue.
John 1:1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. [NLT]
It’s almost a month since my husband was killed. I have been so blessed and comforted by my family. They have buffered the reality of my loss with their presence. They’ve flown in from around the country to help me navigate the unthinkable reality of death with the basics of life; food, activity and the practical and legal details that are now a part of my life. What was previously “normal” activity has now become a reminder of being alone but they have been the hands-on proof of God’s assurance that is not the case. One by one they’ve returned to their own homes and this week I finally have to face learning to live alone in mine.
It’s scary because I’ve realized I have never actually lived “alone” before. I moved from my parents home to my marital home nearly 63 years ago. I chose this book of John to read and ponder in these next weeks because it was important to my husband and the book of John is where my life of faith began long ago. I wasn’t physically alone then, but it was the place I first read the words that revealed Jesus gives life that spans all time, circumstances and relationships. What was true then is still truth now. “The Word already existed…with God… The Word gave life to everything…and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
2 Samuel 22:31 “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. 32 For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? 33 God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” NLT
Perfect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” NIV
I’m sure you’re familiar with the triangle image of the Godhead where each of the three points represents one of the three persons; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It’s the image of life for those who, by accepting and acting in accordance with Jesus, have been placed securely within that Perfect Triangle. My life is in that triangle. So is yours. Can you be thrilled by what a drawing can show you about how convincingly God can prove to you that your image really is just like His? Yes!
A simple straight line beginning at one of those thee points and stretching across to an opposite line to establish a connection to that Perfect Triangle always results in a brand new triangle. Something visually happened as I drew line after line always staying within the boundary lines of that Perfect Triangle. As long as each straight line began at one of the, now multiple, points to an opposite line, it always became a triangle without my doing anything more. Each triangle was a different size and had a different shape with different angles but every time I drew a straight line to make that connection three new “points” appeared. The triangles were not a perfect duplicate of the original but without a doubt they visually confirmed a likeness to that Perfect Triangle.
The creator of all mankind chose the simplest of all processes to replicate Himself in those who would be bearers of His image. The more I drew straight lines, the more I recognized how reliable that connection was. Every one of those imperfect triangles began as a simple straight line but by God’s good purpose He chose to verify that likeness even further for His image bearers as each connection was completed. I saw those three replicated “points;” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, appear over and over as each line became a new triangle within the Perfect Triangle. That was the visual proof that thrilled me.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them;” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit created within us, every time. Yes!
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for…13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. NIV
Hebrews 11 is called the “By Faith” chapter. Twenty one times it uses that phrase to show the human side of the real life of notable “ancients” elsewhere in the Bible. The intersection of living by faith and the evidence of real life circumstance was just as mysterious for them as it is for me today as a new widow but they were commended for living “by faith.” Oswald Chambers said “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him” so…
I will live by faith believing life is different, but still good
I will live by faith that what I can’t control does not mean I am helpless
I will live by faith that redeems without me knowing all the details
I will live by faith in yet undiscovered reserves of strength
I will “live” by faith that Jesus is nearest to me right now
I Corinthians 13:12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. NLT
These are lyrics to a song I wrote many years ago. I knew they were important to me then. It was a time when my identity with Jesus was just becoming clear to me and I was so aware, even embarrassed, about what I didn’t know. All these years later, events have turned those old words into a treasure to remind me God is still “looking” out for me. I am a new widow. Jesus has provided an explosion of love through family and friends to help me see myself in this puzzling new role. There is a new reality in that mirror that is critical for me to see right now.
In the mirror I see
Two eyes looking back at me.
Two eyes trying to see
A picture of what I can be.
That is the “flesh” part of life. I’m trying to see a “picture of what I can be” without Ken in that mirror but my reflection is clouded with tears…thank God the song goes on…
Won’t you picture God for me my friend?
Won’t you be my mirror when I pretend?
Won’t you help me to see?
There truly is something more than “flesh.” There is a Spirit of Life that knows I can’t see myself clearly since the death of my husband. I need someone to “help me to see.” That is very real right now. In the midst of unmeasurable pain and grief I have family and friends who are here when my tears distort almost everything I see. Their physical help, prayers and tenderness are helping me begin to glimpse a new “picture of what I can be.” I may never remember all they’ve said and done but I will certainly never forget their willingness to “picture God for me,” sometimes unbeknownst to them. They are showing me the Spirit of Life that assures me there is enough strength, even in grief, to honor the two most important men in my life, Jesus and my husband Ken.” I’ve spoken that phrase many times in the last few days. One friend responded with “one gave His life FOR you and one gave his life TO you.” That’s a God-given truth I can “live” with. Alleluia!
2 Corinthians 5:10 & 17
10 for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
One of the mental images I believe the Holy Spirit gave me years ago was about finally meeting Christ face to face before that judgment seat. I’ve only shared it a few times and no one seems as wowed by it as I am. It was certainly meant for me. But I think it speaks of what the reality of anyone entering into eternal life with Christ will be like. As believers in Jesus we’re prepared but we’re not perfect. That moment of meeting is more than a pat on the head with a “well-done,” because life-saving reality requires absolute reality.
This is my vision of absolute reality, I am wrapped in Jesus’s arms, prepared for eternity…but first…I see my life for the first time through Christ’s eyes, like a movie. Frankly some of what I have to see makes me weep tears of sadness that I missed the mark so many times. But they are not tears of guilt or punishment, they are the final cleansing. They are the tears of purification. There in Christ’s arms, preparation turns into perfection; the purification of the heart, soul, mind and strength that knows the absolute reality of life and love that will last all of eternity.
In my own grief since Ken’s unexpected death, only last Friday morning that image comforts me in a new way. This time it was my husband wrapped in Jesus’s arms being loved and assured that his preparation in life is now the absolute reality of the purification of his heart, soul, mind and strength. He is loved by Jesus and perfect, forever. There’s a newer memory that comforts me too, something Ken repeated only last Thursday evening, Jesus Loves Me, This I know. I can easily imagine Ken singing that simple song he believed was the essence of his Faith, that next morning wrapped in Jesus’s arms, knowing he was right all along.
At about 9 a.m. Friday, April 9, my beloved husband of 62 years, Conrad [Ken] Bedient was killed in a motorcycle accident. At the end of those 62 years with tear filled eyes I can testify that instead of time diminishing our love, we understood the reality of our love more than ever before. I was still his bride. He loved me with a love that allowed me to become the woman I am today. Not even death can take that away. I can imagine him standing beside Jesus right now and urging Him to comfort me. I believe that because that’s how Ken lived his life of faith.
I am leaning harder on Jesus that I ever knew possible. I’m trapped by the desperation to avoid any familiar routine because that seems like a denial that my world has caved in and yet sitting here in the midst of no familiar routine is just as bad. Even a simple thing like making the bed, alone, has reduced me to tears. Every familiar part of life is going to be a reminder that I am now alone. I just don’t know how to do life right now.
I find myself sitting with my eyes closed a lot, like I’m trying to shut out the world. I’m heartbroken and shaken to the core. I’m never far from tears and my body is shaking most of the time. Those are the details of my need for your prayers. Friends and our two daughters are here with me. Their presence is the one blessing that reminds me there is still constancy I can count on. I am thankful for them. Please pray for all of us who knew and loved Ken as we try to cope with this unthinkable loss of husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.
John 19:28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ words “It is finished” are an important reality of our life in Christ. I thought about their importance to the personal drama of my own “first” Easter with Jesus. It felt so big, so dramatic, so epic…and so complete…but it had just barely begun.
I wonder why it’s so easy to look at epic moments in our life of faith as finales when beginning right there on that cross, our hope lies in exactly the opposite being true. That’s the truth of Jesus words “It is finished.” Easter was not an epic finale but The Crescendo of a New Beginning.
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
Preparation has been completed
Jesus is Risen!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is earthshakingly dramatic. It’s the most critical part of our life of faith. That’s BIG! Our hearts are filled all those BIG things today; Praise, Gratitude and Alleluia’s. This is the Day the Lord has made! This is the day that ends weeks of participating in self-directed “remembering” to focus on celebrating Easter 2021. Jesus described Himself as the way, the truth and the life. That was a bold declaration for a man who knew death was ahead of Him. The resurrection was God’s bold declaration that Jesus’s description was truth.
There is another quiet part of the resurrection of Jesus that we need to remember and celebrate too: Jesus’s post-resurrection encounters with His friends. They were revelations of Himself speaking peace to calm their fears, reassurance to dispel their doubts, guidance to direct their futures and giving them His trust that would empower them to live IN their faith. It’s the quiet part of the resurrection that continues beyond this Easter celebration. The Way of crucifixion is Jesus quietly providing access to a new beginning as they ”walk along.” The Truth of “discussing” healed scars is testimony of resurrecting love that can quiet hurting hearts. The Life “together” with Jesus is the quiet part of trust; He is alive IN every part of faith for every day of every week AND this Easter morning. That’s BIG! Alleluia!
Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life has the final word this Easter…
“What are you discussing “together” as you walk along?”