Anyone who knows me well might be wondering why I am uncharacteristically quiet on my blog, other than a couple of posts that took very little thought to write; hastily written posts about shopping and the love of paper and books. The previous two posts could have been written at any point in the last 20+ years. What I write about this evening, however, reflects a growth in grace that I believe began with my mother’s death in 2010.
David was well aware of the gift of faith my mother left me when she died on my birthday. Doors that opened for me and spiritual experiences I had afterward couldn’t be explained away as sheer coincidence. After a particularly vivid spiritual experience that left me reeling with both shock and joy, I turned to my husband. “You do believe me, that this happened, don’t you?”
“I believe you with my whole heart,” he replied, and then added somewhat wistfully, “But I’ve never had that.” I think he saw the changes in me and strived, in his own way, to find something similar. He began watching Joyce Meyer on television and picked up her books at thrift stores, reading them thoroughly. He read, and then re-read, Cecil Murphey and Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven, loaning it to a friend who died a couple of months later. The very last book David asked for at the hospital after his heart attack was their Getting to Heaven.
After David died in March, I had a strong desire for two things; prayer and Bible verses. I didn’t want the rote prayers of my childhood faith, but instead, yearned to hear the kind of praying I had experienced at the two Christian Writer’s conferences I’d attended. That is why, two weeks after my husband died, I rode my bicycle to a Methodist church two blocks away and knocked on the door of a 25-year-old youth leader who my daughter promised was good at “praying out loud.” As tears streamed down my face, I explained why I had come. The young woman pulled me into her office, shut the door, and proceeded to pray out loud for me. Peace washed over me with her words.
When I prayed for Bible verses, I didn’t expect an answer to arrive in the mail a few days later, in the form of several pertinent verses hand-written on notebook paper. “I felt led to write these verses out for you. Maybe they will bring you some comfort,” the young woman who often tutored my youngest wrote. I folded the paper carefully and stuck it in my journal. A month or two later, on the morning of what would have been my 33rd wedding anniversary, the papers fell out of the journal just when I needed them.
Maybe I could find a Bible study, I thought as I prayed for a way to immerse myself in the Bible. I read two different devotion books every morning, with two more devotionals arriving in my inbox every day, but that wasn’t enough. Hungry for God’s word, I wanted more. I filled pages of my journal with God’s promises. I read a dozen Christian books on grief and mourning.
When I was asked if I could write some devotionals for a grief Bible, my initial reaction was uncertainty. I had never written a devotional. Could I do it? As I read the guidelines and sample devotionals, it dawned on me that this was God’s answer to my prayer. I would have to study his word to be able to write the devotions.
That is where I have been; immersed in God’s word, working on devotions that will be featured in a Bible for the grieving. And as I have worked on the devotions, I have experienced something amazing; I have been healing.
During this same time, as I’ve worked on the devotions, things have also been falling into place so that I can attend the Maranatha Christian Writer’s conference where I will be taking workshops on writing devotions as well as learning about writing Christian non-fiction.
I no longer believe in coincidences. It is no coincidence that I was asked to write devotionals for a grief Bible. Neither is it a coincidence that exactly six months to the day after David’s death, I will be sitting in the same room and learning from Cec Murphey, David’s favorite author and the man who gifted me with a scholarship to the Write-to-Publish conference in May.