I had a moment of truth in my life many years ago. I was lost in a different kind of wilderness – not a wilderness of grief and sorrow but a dark wilderness just the same. The path before my feet was shrouded in a deep fog and for a while I didn't know if God even lived. I understand what atheists think and feel and I have explored their arguments and logic, none of it is lost on me. And, for a season, I suppose I was counted among them. But then I made a choice to truly open my heart, mind, and soul to the possibilities and something remarkable happened.
So while I was wandering in the wilderness of doubt and darkness I remember searching for peace and understanding and for light. After months of study, soul-searching and preparation I remember kneeling at the side of my bed as a young college student and asking my Father if He was there if He even existed in the first place. That very moment I was overcome with an impression I cannot describe. It was at once distinctly spiritual and at the same time deeply emotional. I knew the difference between the two. One thing’s for sure, it was undeniable and not of me. There I knelt as a young, broken and once-confused 18-year-old and I was given eyes to see and a mind to comprehend. I wept. And I wept. I came to know with a certain knowledge that day we have a Father who lives and loves us … and all that happens in this mortal place is for a greater purpose. That experience and a few others that followed prepared me for darker woods yet to come. Darker, in fact, than I had a mind to imagine. Only the next time I journeyed in the wilderness I had a candle that I might see.
Fast forward more than two decades and I found myself on the edge of my son’s bed as he folded his tender arms and said a prayer of his own to his Father … our Father. He had a week to live and despite the heavy burdens he shouldered, this little boy carried a heart overflowing with love and gratitude. I remember watching little Mitch humbly fold his arms and close his eyes as he spoke with his Father in a spirit of deep thanks. He asked for nothing. Once again Mitch reminded me of one of my favorite sayings, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” For Mitch, he always had enough.
I realize that I speak of my personal faith in God often. It is never my intent to sound preachy, fanatical or pretentious; I am only sharing my experience and feelings as they truly are. Why I do this publically, I still do not know. One of the reasons I write of God is I think it’s difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to peer into the deep abyss of death and not contemplate what’s on the other side if anything at all. In my estimation, the reality of God is either child’s play or it is the only play that really matters.
So, as I knelt at my son’s bed, hearing his soft voice and even softer sentiments, I wondered in my mind and heart how my little boy so broken could be so put together. This little 10-year-old was a towering example to me that I can smile even when all seems lost. He showed me that though broken, I needn't fall apart. Suddenly I remembered that experience kneeling at my other bed so many years before and I felt an echo of those same heavenly impressions again.
In what seemed the blink of an eye from this little moment, I found myself broken-hearted and struggling to breathe at my son’s funeral. While preparing for the funeral I asked a dear friend of mine, Kenneth Cope, a talented musician and man of faith to sing one of his songs at Mitchie’s funeral. He was so kind and gracious and performed, “Broken.” Here are the first 3 verses:
Broken clouds give rain
Broken soil grows grain
Broken bread feeds man for one more day
Broken storms yield light
The break of day heals night
Broken pride turns blindness into sight
Broken souls that need His mending
Broken hearts for offering
Could it be that God loves broken things
I loved that song when I first heard it. I loved it even more when my friend sang this song at my dear son’s funeral. As I listened to his inspired words through song, I couldn't help but think about why we break and what comes of it. Although my son’s broken heart touched mine –in truth, Mitchell’s broken heart broke mine.
I am grateful my friend Kenneth gently reminded me broken things can give way to better things. I am grateful Mitch taught me though we may break, we needn't break apart. And I am thankful for my Father who has shown me time and again, broken things can indeed mend ... and often, to a much greater end.