This is not at all
How we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you
(If you are listening to the music player right now, you know that the verse above is from the Steven Curtis Chapman song, "With Hope." And by the way, I hope you were able to see the Chapmans on Larry King Live last night - 08/07/08. We did and were greatly encouraged. What a family. What a story. What a God.)
This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. If I'm being honest with you, I have to admit that it took not more than a split second when Nicol found Luke that horrible night for this thought to enter my mind and then spill out of my mouth. Right there, in our bedroom. Right then, as I did CPR.
This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. This. Losing our son. At ten weeks. Not our plan. Not our idea of a good thing. Not... at all the way things are supposed to be. No! No! No!
This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. I remember thinking... Have we done something? Are we being punished? Is this the chastening hand of God? What is happening? Has God turned away from us, removed His protection? I mean, come on, the very hour Luke was taking his last breaths I was praying with Nicol and Summer, as we were putting her to bed, that God would protect our children all the days of their lives. Literally. That very hour. And now this? Where were You? Why didn't You do something. Why didn't You fix it? You could have. You could have made him breathe again, God. We believed that you were going to. Where were You? Oh, God, why?
This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. This happens to other people. This is someone else's nightmare. This is someone else's story. Not ours'. Not our baby. Not our Luke. No! No! No! Oh, Luke, buddy!
This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. I'm told this thought is quite normal. I'm told it's okay to ask all these questions. God is big enough to handle it. And besides, He knows what's going on inside of my head and my heart, so don't stuff it. Let it out. Let it all out.
I've found that this is true. It's all very normal and there's nothing wrong with it. Go and talk - no, listen - to people who've been shattered, whose lives have been turned upside-down and inside-out by some senseless, impossible-to-understand, radically-life-changing event. We all have the same thoughts. Read some of the books that are out there. You'll find these and similar thoughts in all of them. And it is okay to ask the Why? questions. Just read the psalms. David did it all the time. God is big enough to handle them and, more importantly, He's right there with us. He's near to the broken hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. He cleans out our wounds and binds them up... and repeats the process as often as we need Him to... as often as we allow Him to.
I've found something else to be true as well: This is not at all how God intended it to be. His plan never called for anything like this to happen. Ever. The Bible says that God looked over everything He had made; it was so good, so very good! (Gen. 1:31, The Message) Perfection. That was His plan. Death was never, in the words of Nicholas Wolterstorff, "...a normal instrument of God's dealing with us." It's not as though God says, "You there have lived out the years I've planned for you, so I'll just shake the mountain a bit. All of you there, I'll send some starlings into the engine of your plane. And as for you there, a stroke while running will do nicely." No way. His plan was good, so very good. Says Wolterstorff, "God is appalled by death" and "my pain over my son's death is shared by his pain over my son's death." Appalled. Shared pain. That's my God.
This is not at all how we thought that it was supposed to be.
We miss our boy. We don't understand this and we never will, not in this life at least. We had our plans. We had our dreams. We're sad that he and Summer won't be able to grow up together. I'm sad that Nicol is going to miss out on the special relationship that only moms and sons can have. I'm sad that I won't be able to play golf with him, or watch The Final Four with him, or see him play basketball, or sweat it out the first time he's on a bicycle without training wheels, or see what God would do in his life, or see him at the same fun stage of life as Summer is in right now. I'm sad that we won't have family vacations together, that his great-grandparents, and all of his aunts and uncles and cousins didn't get to meet him. I'm just sad. But I take comfort in knowing that...
This is not at all how God intended it to be.
Despite the sin and brokenness of this world, God has made hope possible. He's overcome. He's made a way. Jesus is making everything new again. The Chapman song doesn't just draw out the theme I've talked about so far. It tells me that
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
We can breathe with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll your face again
We'll see your face again
There is hope. God's ways are good and even though our world has been rocked by the awful effects sin and death and brokenness, We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us. (Hebrews 6:18-20, The Message)
Hold on with both hands and never let go. It's the only chance we've got of surviving this thing.
(If you're interested, I would highly recommend Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff, whom I quoted in this post. The book reveals his journey thru the grief of losing his son, Eric, in a mountain climbing accident. Our counselor gave us a copy about a month after Luke died, and it was a great help to us. It's an excellent resource for everyone to have.)