I have been planning a post for a while now. A post all about the progress I have made over the past year. I was going to write all about how I now host a home group in my house, attend a weekly bible study, and have done a lot of good work in my journey back to faith. This is not that post. Or at least not the way I ever thought this post would go.
For the past four years I would get a phone call around late September to early October. When I saw who was calling, I knew exactly what it was about. If I couldn’t answer, I knew almost exactly how the message would go, “Hey Lacey, this is Janet. When you get a chance give me a call back. I want to talk to you about something.” That something was going to be helping with the church Christmas play and even though I had already said I wasn’t going to do it anymore, I would say yes once again. My aunt Janet was one of the few people I could never say no to. I used to be slightly annoyed by those calls, but I would give anything to get one right now.
On 9/11/17, my aunt Janet and uncle Leon were killed in a car accident. Tomorrow will be one month, four weeks, 28 days, since they left this world. It still doesn’t feel real. There are moments when it hits me like a tons of bricks and others when I have to ask myself if it all really happened. They were two people who I respected, admired, and loved even more than I ever realized. I idolized my aunt and I cherished my uncle’s infectious laughter. I miss them, dearly.
All through this terrible ordeal, though, I have seen God at work. He has allowed relationships to be mended, bringing us together as a family. He has shown us love and compassion through the never-ending line of friends bringing food, donations, and words of comfort. He has given us peace in our certainty of where their hearts were and where they are headed. Most beautifully, He brought us together in a church service that next Sunday where we witnessed one of their sons rededicate his life to Him. It is impossible to deny that God has been working in this dreadful circumstance.
Of course, God has been working for a lot longer than just this past month. Janet and Leon loved to sing and spent many, many years traveling with their gospel music group. They visited countless churches to spread their love of God through song. As I pulled music for a funeral video, I couldn’t help but be comforted by the many songs they sang about going home to heaven or wanting to see Jesus. There were also a lot of songs about grace. One of my favorites that Janet used to sing was called Trophy of Grace. I can’t think of a better way to describe them now. They were trophies of grace for our family. Ones we will proudly put on display and attempt to continue their legacies of sharing God’s love with all who will listen.
“I’m a trophy of grace. A display of his love. I’m part of the result from the old rugged cross that was made with his precious love. I’ll never understand why he died in my place. Just look at me today because I can say, I’m a trophy of grace.”
I don’t know why they had to die in the way they did, but I do know going together was an answered prayer for them. They were together for more than 55 years and I don’t think either of them would have known what to do without the other. For years, they both cared for ailing parents and I am sure they never wanted to put that burden on their own kids. So, though I don’t yet have an answer for why they went the way they did, I take comfort in knowing some of their prayers were answered the instant they left this world together.
I recently read a devotional about Enoch from the book of Genesis. Enoch walked faithfully with God. One day God took him away to heaven. He found such favor with God that he never had to experience death. What if that’s the way it happened with them? They walked faithfully with the Lord and literally sang His praises all their days. I like to think God found favor with them and called them home. They died, yes, but in the way they died, they didn’t suffer. They didn’t succumb to debilitating illness. They weren’t burdened with experiencing their bodies slowly shutting down. They were gone in an instant. God called them home to glory.
My heart is broken over the loss of my precious aunt and uncle. I’m devastated that we won’t have one more Thanksgiving or Christmas at their house. My 30th birthday girls trip will not be the same without Janet. A good joke or gag gift won’t be as fun without sharing it with Leon. Yet, there is a peace that passes my understanding. My faith has been shaken, but it’s still standing. I will do my best to praise Him in this storm and rejoice for the beautiful lives of two people I was blessed to know.