Illumine Me

AM Psalm 24, 29; PM Psalm 8, 84
Isa. 42:1-12; Eph. 6:10-20; John 3:16-21

The light came over me, around me, through me. Infiltrating, lustrous, resplendent,“other-worldly” light–brighter, but not blinding; warm, but not a familiar kind of heat; lustrous and vivid, but not overwhelming to the senses. This surprising (but not alarming) light moved me to complete stillness–to an awareness that I needed to stop everything… and pay attention.

After my beloved son, Ian, died in an accidental drowning, the one predominating question above the host of others was this:

Is my son okay?

Parents of teenagers always want to know this. They lose sleep over it, or they fall into fitful slumber when they simply cannot sustain alertness long enough to comply with teenager-ly hours. True rest is impossible to achieve until the child is safely home. How many hundreds of times did I feel Ian’s gentle kiss on my cheek and hear his beautiful voice saying, “Mom, I’m home and I am okay.”  When the teen becomes a young adult–when the check-ins are more courtesy than imperative–the relief is no less comforting. My child is home. He is here with me. He is safely tucked in. Now I can go to sleep.

When your child dies, you still want to know that he is okay. It doesn’t really change that much. Despite your solid belief that he has been translated into the glorious presence of God the Father, there comes the tiniest crack of dubiety which can lead to an all out split in the granite of your faith. You want proof. A sign. Plenty of cement to fill the threatening gap, once and for all. I sorted and re-sorted through the important details of his life. Did he have true faith? Was it enough? Enough to secure a place with God for all eternity? Then, again, that age-old need to know – is he safe?

Complete peace was eluding me. Grief, the foolish predictor of ridiculous wishes and demands, led me to beg God for a chance to talk to Ian “just one more time” so I could find the relief I sought. I felt this was the very least God could give after all he had taken–as if I found him to be a genie who might be compelled to grant me this one reasonable wish. So bequeathed, I would relinquish “all things Ian” into his hands. I would agree to let him go. On my terms, that is.

I wrestled and cajoled and pleaded, but it turns out God wasn’t interested in bargaining with me. After an exhausting several months, the demand melted away and I melted into the heart of God, whom I found to be comfort enough. Sincerely, but reluctantly, I withdrew my question. Besides, practically speaking, there was no way I could ever hope to have such an answer in this life.

I was sitting there, taking care of some correspondence. Once I was wholly attuned to the light permeating the room, I felt a presence behind me. I could feel an embrace. I was being held. Simultaneously, I heard a voice. It was God, but not the voice of God. It is not every day I hear the timbre or tone of God’s true voice. More than likely, I wouldn’t have recognized it.

“Mom, I am okay. I am really okay.” It was Ian’s voice. On loan. From God.

I was not breathing–at least not consciously. I was stunned; transported into one of those precious moments, a remembrance which has come to be eternally infused upon my soul. I was experiencing God–a spiritual landmark which transformed the formerly familiar “God-words” into “God-reality”. God chose to bring comfort to this one, bereaved, desperately grieving mother. I am certain the light I felt was the radiant light of Christ. Light from heaven.

“I AM the Light of the World”, Jesus admonishes. Simple. This I have believed in a cerebral manner for over 40 years–four decades of preparation to lead me to utter belief. Christ’s light, his hope, has come to me on several specific occasions, but none so luminous as when I was at my greatest moment of need. He found me to be significant. The Light begat hope. Hope grew up and became my future.

We believe. He comes to enlighten. We are changed. Emblazoned with the stamp of God.

It is worth the wait.

-Shawn Bailey

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Filed under Advent, Discipleship, Gospels and Acts, Prayer, Saints, The Holy Spirit, Worship

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