I’m going to school on you!

That was something my late husband said when we were first dating. It sounded kind of corny, yet sweet. We had a whirlwind romance, but not the typical one. We sat and talked for hours, saw each other every day the moment he got out of work. He asked relentless questions, wanting to know everything about me. After about a month of dating, he asked me to marry him over the phone (I was on a business trip). This wasn’t just girl/boy pursuit, this was a man loving a woman, not worried about getting her to love him as much as he was just loving her.

Why do I bring up my late husband when I’m married again? Many reasons. I want my kids to know always what a neat man he was. But mainly I want them to know that when a man loves a woman, the way the Bible speaks of it, we are able to believe that Christ loves us and is personally interested in us. He showed us by giving His life for us. Sometimes it seems abstract, but when a human shows us something similar, we can grasp it a little easier.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Ephesians 5:25-29

He definitely loved me. And nourished and cherished me. There is something about that which I am know helped my love for the Lord to begin to spring up again. And the things he said and did were never just something impersonal, but something deeply personal. He made me feel like I was the most special person in the world, all while keeping me grounded with his humor and wit. He would do anything and everything he could to get my attention. I was very busy at work (I worked at home) and he kept interrupting one day. Almost felt like he was poking me over and over and getting me grumpy. I looked up and asked him finally, “Don’t you like it better when I am at peace, or are you trying to rile me up?” His answer was that whether I was peaceful, or riled up, he did not care, as long as I paid attention to him.

Jesus wants a relationship with us too. All the time. Not just a familial one, where we’re related by marriage. But an intimate one. All the time. Let’s face it, we fail moment by moment. If I open my eyes to see all around me, the Lord is always trying to get my attention >because He loves me. Sometimes it has come through hardships and sorrows. But there He is beside me, never leaving me — a man of grief, acquainted with sorrows (Isaiah 53).

See also: You Cry, God Hears

His Marvelous Creation

Sometimes He tries to woo me through the beauty and marvel of creation. From the ever-changing canvas of a sun setting on the water, to the simplicity of a ripening tomato on a vine, or a tendril of a flower opening up towards the sun. He makes me smile when a herd of geese go stampeding across the sky (Yes, I know… they aren’t called herds. But that is what I always think of when they decide to take off in a flurry, trumpeting their departure, making a big ruckus as they go on their way).

In times of fear, just like a scared little girl reaches for her daddy’s hand to feel secure, we have the same ability to reach up to our Abba Father in these times.

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15                                                                                                                          

One of the parts of His Word that really gets to me, is that He says He wrote the Word ahead of time for our learning, and those Scriptures give us comfort and hope. Now that is love. 

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

When my husband, the father of 7 of my 8 children became sick terminally, my life felt like it was over, I did not know how I could go on. I had so much grief, I didn’t know how to conceal it from the kids, but had to try for all their sakes. By the time he went to be with the Lord, we had 7 kids from 18 years old, down to 7. I remember I’d escape to cry in the bathroom or shower, so that I did not discourage my husband or make my kids fear. I prayed for more time with him. They said he had no more time when our last child was just born, and he was diagnosed. And yet the Lord gave us seven more years, and for that I’m really grateful. He got to spend some more quality time with the kids since he couldn’t work. (And of course, this gave him more time to pester me). It wasn’t enough time, but teach us to number our days (Psalm 90:12). But we all need to think on the truth — that life as we know it here, will end (Hebrews 9:27). Loving someone doesn’t guarantee you won’t lose them too early. And there is no guarantee you will not feel like you too are dying, like your very soul is clinging to the dust on the ground. This described it perfectly for me.

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

Psalm 119:25,28

When it got near the end, Gilbert just wanted to make it to 50, and the Lord gave him an additional year. He prayed Isaiah 40:31 basically one day. He told the Lord he was so tired. That he wanted to be strong again. That he wanted to run like we used to when we played soccer together, and just be able to walk without being out of breath. My inside was crying out, No! No! No! I knew what this prayer meant and I was unwilling to agree with it. I went into the bathroom and silently wept and told the Lord I did not want to agree. There was a moment. Nothing I can put into words or explain and do it justice. But suddenly I knew I had to agree with it if it was God’s will, so I told the Lord so.

Shortly thereafter, I was getting ready to go out. He came into the room and looked funny. I asked him what was wrong, he just shook his head. I don’t want to go into details, but I prayed for him right then, hugging him as we waited. And they took to the hospital, but I believe he had already gone on with the Lord.

That day I had somehow been reading Psalm 63, and in a version I had not used really (NASB95). Not sure why. And I remembered the first and last of the passage (vs. 1 and 8), as I prayed this more than once while I was outside the room as they worked on him.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me. 

Psalm 63:1,8 NASB95

They finally let me back in the room after telling me they had tried everything and he was gone. He laid there on the table and the nurses looked down at their shoes, seeming unable to look at me, busied themselves turning everything off. And before they scurried off, I blurted out, “this was a great man — father of 10 kids, the best husband a woman could want, and the best friend I had ever had besides Jesus.” They smiled, said they were sorry, hugged me, and left me alone with him. Except I knew it was no longer Gilbert I was with. I held his hand though for a moment, and I looked at him, he looked so different now that it was his shell left behind. But a little tuft of his black and silver hair was flowing up and down, almost as if he was walking at a fast pace. But it reminded me that moment of a feather, it just blew back and forth very easily. I wondered was blowing that lock of hair, no fan, no machines on, and I ran my hand over and under that piece, and felt nothing. And then it came to mind, that feather reminded me of the wings of an eagle. And I knew at that moment Gilbert’s prayer had been answered and I went home to tell the kids.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

In the days to come, His love and comfort was abundant. After making arrangements with the mortuary (a couple of things happened there which I won’t get into the details) but one was, the man helping us grew up at the same time in my husband’s small town of Oxnard, CA.

When we were done with all the arrangements, my friend wanted to feed me. I wasn’t really interested, but she pushed. I guess she had it planned to meet many of our friends, some from the restaurant we always went to, some from bowling, some from various times in our life. An agnostic or two, an atheist, a Buddhist, a Jewish man, a couple of Roman Catholics and a Christian all went to a bar (no, teasing as if it were one of those bar jokes). We went to a Cowboy restaurant with an outdoor patio. At some point, I told them the story of the tuft of hair like a feather, and after I quoted Isaiah 40:31, right then a huge dark shadow fell over us, and they looked up and almost simultaneously they yelled, “AN EAGLE.” It landed on the flagpole and several jumped up and took pictures. One cynic said, “We don’t have eagles here, only hawks.” So for that moment, the temporary awe was suspended.

Several months later one of my friends was going through her phone and showed me her pictures. It was huge, and so we determined to look up the bird. It wasn’t a hawk as previously thought but turned out to be a Golden Eagle. God had shown Himself to those people in a pretty amazing way, but as we know it tends to be that people do not pay attention. Several of those friends have come to know the Lord since then. Two sadly, not till their death bed, but better late wages than never (Matt 20:1-16).

The Lord did many other things to comfort me during this time. The why’s or how’s aren’t so important as the Words of His that began to bind me back up like the Good Samaritan did with the beaten and unconscious man (Luke 10:29-37). But one verse He brought to me in a very special way was this:

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

God loves each one of us so much. He has a future planned with us, not just in the here and now. He does care about this life now, the details, the worries, the fears of our hearts. And He wants us to talk to Him about it, but we tend to feel more comfortable or more satiated reaching out to a real body, an audible voice for comfort. But He is always there for us, waiting patiently. He gave His life for you and suffered some horrible things, solely so that you could live with Him forever. We sometimes (or oftentimes), put everything and everyone before the Lord. Or maybe we think we’re doing the Lord’s work, and all of that stuff might just end up being hay and stubble that gets burnt up. One thing I do know is, that you cannot go wrong just choosing to sit at His feet and listening to His Word. Talk to Him. You may not ‘hear’ His voice yet, but you will as you get to know Him more through His Word. Our love letter really. And you will hear Him speak to you, in His Word, many times if you will just spend some time in it.

Jesus knows everything about us, are we ‘going to school on Him?’ Because Gilbert loved me like he did, he enabled me to trust the love of Jesus for me. He loves you too.

Don’t distracted with ‘much serving’. We all need time with Him, that good part, which will never be taken from us.

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

P.S. – 7 years after Gilbert went to be with the Lord, I married the former atheist in that group who declared it was a hawk, not an eagle (he was wrong, but you know how that goes) 🙂
And we have been married seven years as of a few days ago.

If you are at all unsure in the slightest of where you are going when you die, or you would like to have a simple way to share, consider watching this short video.

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