Thursday, November 3, 2016

Blessed Assurance [A Father's Loss] 11/3/2016

"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thought with me..."  Psalm 23:4


Many of you may know that about a month ago, Michelle and I lost a daughter, our kids lost a sister, my parents lost a granddaughter, my sister lost a niece, her kids lost a cousin, Erik lost a girlfriend, a fine crew at Enterprise Car Share lost a teammate and the world lost Taylor Patrice D'Orsey Lewis.  She was just 26 years old.  We only discovered six months ago that she suffered from bipolar disorder.  This surely was a cause of her untimely and tragic death.

As a minister, I am often the person that ministers to the family, provides words of encouragement, assists with the arrangements and conducts the funeral or memorial service in situations such as this.  This time, it was necessary to do those things for my own and myself.  The experience has been both surreal and heartbreaking.  Only those who have lost a child truly know and understand what it is like to lose a child.  It is an unfortunate and sad fraternity.

I'd like to focus, however, on two things.  First, the overwhelming presence and love of God.  As you will hear later (if you indulge me), His comfort was extended to me immediately upon learning of our loss.  He was and is my "go to" and made a way for me not to panic an entire airplane full of passengers, to breathe and pray through my immediate grief reaction and to have the presence of mind to take care of the things that needed to be done.  All that He has equipped me to do for others was made available to me.  It has not been nor is it presently "easy" but He makes me able and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Secondly, the response from those who love us has been the most humbling thing I've ever experienced.  When I say "those who love us," it is times like these that reveal who some of those folks really are and I do not mind telling you that I did not realize how many, which ones and how deeply they do love.  Many times, others were more emotional than we were and for some of us, that is not an easy thing to accomplish.  People came to our aid from all over.  And those who could not come, sent.  And to tie these two things together, know that God shows up in my day every single day in the form of someone different.  Be it a text, email, phone call, card or visit, someone provides God's comfort and blessed assurance to me every single day.

I have always said, "You never realize how much God is all you need until God is all you have."  These honest and heartfelt words, always believed, have taken on a 3D quality.  It is difficult to understand how such pain can bring one even closer to God (who draws near us when we draw near to Him) but I am a living witness that it is true in my life and in the lives of my family.

Lastly, I'd like to share my testimony with you.  There are those who commented after the memorial that they "admire my strength."  Let me assure you that there is nothing in me to admire except the God who lives in me.  It is in Him that I live and move and have my very being (Acts 17:28).  Rather than subjecting you to more reading, I invite you to listen to a father's farewell to his daughter.  It is my prayer that you will find encouragement from these words for whatever trials life may bring to your door.  The God that strengthens and comforts me will strengthen and comfort you come what may.

On behalf of Michelle and our entire family, thank you for your kind support, love and prayers.


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