One day last week I put a Veggies Tales video on for Toby. It was one he had never seen before and I couldn’t remember the last time Isaiah had watched it. It really had been awhile. Jack was napping and so I went about taking care of things around the house while Bob and Larry entertained my toddler.
As I worked I could hear he songs on the DVD…and my stomach started to turn. A lump gathered in my throat and I felt like I wanted to cry. What were these animated vegetables doing to me?!
Stopping for a moment, my senses brought me back to when Isaiah was a toddler and used to watch that same DVD often. Suddenly I was transported in time. And I remembered.
I’ve had this experience before, after all. It was nothing new. It happened when I got hand-me-downs out of Isaiah’s tub of 2T clothes. I saw those tiny garments and felt the material in my hands and I ended up in a weepy pile on the utility room floor. Memories of the season of life we were in when Isaiah wore those outfits came flooding back like a tsunami. And I remembered.
It’s happened when I hear a certain worship song or smell a certain type of flower. It happens when I taste specific foods from specific restaurants or when I catch a whiff of the smell of the doctor’s office.
My senses transport my heart back to a particular time. And I remember.
This week 4 years ago, our 2nd child was due to be born. The child who’s heart stopped beating before 17 weeks gestation. The child who I, over 4 years ago, delivered and held his lifeless body. Today there’s a greater awareness that something is missing…and a greater longing for our family to be restored.
And as much as I’ve healed, as long as time has marched on, as blessed as we’ve been, and as much as my head thinks it’s not on my mind or on my heart, grief often sneaks up and pounces on me. Senses and experiences take me back to that so very sorrowful autumn and that painfully difficult spring.
I suddenly remember. And it feels like yesterday.
It’s not that I’ve ever forgotten. I always carry it with me daily. We even planted a tree in our front yard in Martinsburg so that we always would remember. But some days my senses cause me to feel it more deeply and respond more fully.
I don’t remember in an effort to be melodramatic. I don’t remember so I can be pitied or get attention. I don’t remember to be gruesome or dark or joyless.
In fact, I’ve started to welcome the remembering. Because it also leads me to remember the richness of the grace.
In the remembering of that physical and emotional pain, I’m humbled by the grace I was shown. How I was carried by the God of all comfort. How closely I eventually felt His presence and how desperately Scripture became my food and drink. How deep the realization of my own depravity grew to be and how real the hope of Heaven became. How much the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ brought such peace and the gospel transformed my self-rigteous and entitled heart. How the taking away of something I wanted so badly led to the receiving of the only One Who could truly satisfy.
And I rejoice.
It’s good for me to remember.
As I’ve wrestled today with the emotions my senses have brought me to back to, it made me appreciate this Lenten season we’re in in a new way.
“Likewise, Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate the death (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter Sunday) of Jesus. It is this very preparation and repentance – aimed at grasping the intense significance of the crucifixion – that gives us a deep and powerful longing for the resurrection, the joy of Easter.”
– from Journey to the Cross
Lent is for remembering. For stripping away distractions. For denying ourselves familiar comforts so that we might remember the depth of our weakness and our need for a Savior. For the taking away of something else so that we can be reminded of the only One Who can truly satisfy. For remembering our Good Friday sorrow that gave birth to Easter Sunday shouts of joy. For the awareness that something is still missing that will one day be restored.
“And that is what Lent is for, to reflect on our lives as they are and as they could be…
The point of giving things up is not to be reminded of how much we miss them, but rather to be awakened to how much we miss God and long for his life-giving Spirit.”
– from Journey to the Cross
It’s not done in an effort to be melodramatic. I don’t remember so I can be pitied or get attention. I don’t remember to be gruesome or dark or joyless.
Even Jesus himself calls us to remember…
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
– Luke 22:19-20
When you eat. When you drink. Remember.
Isn’t this what communion calls us to do? Engaging our senses to bring back Truth to the forefront of our minds.
When I hear those songs. When I feel that bread. When I taste of that cup. If allow myself, I am taken back there. To the depths of my depravity. To my intense need for mercy. To the foot of the cross. To that tree where Jesus took the punishment for my sin, carrying my sorrow, and ensuring my standing with the Father.
I welcome the remembering. Because it also leads me to remember the richness of the grace.
And I long to be reunited with the One Who saved my soul. I long to be free from this broken world. To be restored. And I rejoice that the grave was defeated and the work has been done!
It’s not that I’ve ever forgotten. I always carry it with me daily. But some days my senses cause me to feel it more deeply and respond more fully.
And I rejoice.
“…always carrying in the the body the death of Jesus, so that the LIFE of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:10-12
So today as I grieve the carrying of my baby’s lifeless body 4 1/2 years ago, I will rejoice in how God used that adversity to humble and refine and bring LIFE to my heart. Not only that, but I rejoice in the hope of heaven when I know I will see that baby again.
Likewise, as I grieve the weight of my sin and the substitutionary death of my Lord on that cross – that tree that is most worth remembering, I will rejoice in the resurrection that brought grace and LIFE to this undeserving mortal flesh! And even more than being reunited with my child, how I long to see HIM face to face in glory. Oh, what grace!
And I will remember.
…See His body, His blood
Know that He has overcome every trial we will face
None too lost to be saved
None too broken or ashamed, all are welcome in this place
By Your mercy, we come to Your table
By Your grace, You are making us faithful
Lord, we remember You
And remembrance leads us to worship
And as we worship You
Our worship leads to communion
We respond to Your invitation, we remember You
Dying You destroyed our death
Rising You restored our life
Lord Jesus, come in glory…
– Matt Maher (“Remembrance”)