“I have a really bad feeling about today,” I told Garrett the last few minutes I got to spend with him on this earth. I had woken up that morning with a dark cloud hanging over me; an incredible heaviness I just couldn’t shake. “What exactly are you going to be doing today?” I inquired about his third and final day of water survival training. As he explained the events of what would be happening, never did he say he wouldn’t be coming back to me. He assured me it was a safe, routine course, and no sharks were going to get him, as he knew I worried about sea creatures. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling.
“Well, give me a long hug…just in case,” I breathed out as I leaned into him; my arms folding around his narrow waist. He wrapped his arms around me, tucking his chin over my head, and held me like a familiar, cozy blanket. My cheek rested on the patches of his flight suit and I breathed in the moment. We were together. We were safe.
But I had no idea. No idea that this hug really would be my last embrace with him here on earth. No idea that my sacred love would be ripped from my hands. If only I had known, I would’ve held longer. I would’ve held tighter. I wouldn’t have let go. But I had no idea. And I had to let go. We have to let go. So we said our goodbyes…and he was gone.
I had no idea God was going to give me this cup in life. This lose-your-amazing-God-loving-husband-with-two-young-boys-under-the-age-of-three cup. No idea that life was going to look like this for me. I can’t quite wrap my mind around all the whys of my life predicament. I really have tried to figure out the mind of God on this one. God continually hears my grievances and questions…
Why? I think Garrett had such incredible potential; so much he had and could have offered this world. Why would He allow this?? It just doesn’t make sense to me when I think of all Garrett could’ve done with his time here compared to the average Joe that’s still walking around on this earth.
God continues to remind me of one word when I start to go down this realm of thinking….Jesus.
Jesus, who died at the age of 33, could have done so much more had God allowed Him to live longer. But God had a specific plan in mind and who wants to thwart the plans of a Holy God? I surely don’t. That plan ended up being the most beautiful love story we will ever know. It changed the world forever. Yet as Jesus’ followers watched Him carrying the cross up to Calvary’s hill to His impending horrific death, they had no idea how this was going to work itself out. I’m sure they thought to themselves, God what the heck are you thinking?!? How could any good come from this? It must have been the worst day of their lives; watching the hope that they clung to and the Savior they believed in being crucified before their very eyes.
But we have the benefit of knowing the whole story. They had no idea. If we could time travel back, we could have confidently whispered in their ears, “Do not fear. This is a perfect plan. God knows what He’s doing. You’ll rejoice when you find out what He is up to here today.”
I recently heard something in a sermon from Tim Keller that really resonated with me: God answers our prayers the way we would want Him to, had we been able to see the whole picture that He sees. You thank God before you make the request because you are saying whatever you do in response to this request is good.
I prayed fervently for Garrett’s life to remain unharmed; for my precious family of four to be kept safe. God’s response to those prayers was to take Garrett away from us. This is not the way I wanted our story to go; a line I share with God almost every single day. But, I liked Tim’s point that had I been able to see everything that God sees, I would have asked God for this. That’s a really hard pill to swallow. In fact, my mind cannot wrap itself around it. But it gives me an unsurpassable peace and joy that one day I’ll say that this is well with my soul. Like Martin Luther said, "These pains and troubles here are like the type that printers set. When we look at them, we see them backwards, and they seem to make no sense and have no meaning. But up there, when the Lord God prints out our life to come, we will find they make splendid reading."
I have no idea what God is up to in my story, or in yours. I have no idea what tomorrow holds. I look forward to getting all the answers on the other side of this life. But until then, I am clinging to the hope that God is up to something bigger and better than we can imagine.
And could people time travel back to me on the day I gave Garrett that final long hug, I know they would’ve confidently whispered into my ear, “Do not fear. This is a perfect plan. God knows what He’s doing. You’ll rejoice when you find out what He is up to here today.”