My optimism surprised even me as I pulled myself out of the cardboard box. Even in the early morning, the summer heat was motivating me to get up and search for something more, something deeper.
This past Christmas I reached the lowest rung in my ladder of my life. Like it was yesterday, I recall the words of the emergency room doctor: “I’m sorry Mr. Brown, they’re gone.” His words play over and over in my head like an old record with a nasty scratch, I’m sorry, they’re gone, I’m sorry, they’re gone, I’m sorry…”
My beautiful wife Jennifer and our 7 year-old son Jason had been delivering cookies to the retirement home that Christmas Eve afternoon. We were all to meet for an early dinner before going to her Mom’s house to exchange gifts. On my way home I got a call from the hospital – there had been an accident. “Please come immediately Mr. Brown.”
I’ll never get that picture out of my head, seeing my precious wife and son, laid out on a hospital bed, lifeless, pale…angelic.
The drunk driver was in the waiting room - sobbing. His overwhelming sorrow and grief touched me a little…but I had nothing to give him, no energy for compassion and no motivation for hatred. When my family died, the life poured out of me as well.
Four days later, after a service that summed up two extraordinary lives in a mere 45 minute memorial, I passed through the doors of the church and my feet took on a mind of their own. They forced me to leave everything behind and carried me to the land of the downcast and brokenhearted. Despondency liberated me from the expectations of life. I was free to grieve, free to bask in my misery, free to answer to no one. I offered my life to my Lord and hoped He would see fit to take me as well, but I was not surprised that He rejected the offer. In my despair, I was no good to anyone, especially not to God.
But today is different. Exactly six months to the day after the memorial service, something happened inside of me. I squeezed my arms and legs – the numbness was gone. The sun’s rays wrapped around me and transformed my frown to a smile.
My step was light as I made my way to the lavatory at the train station. Joe, the morning custodian, was sweeping the front deck. For the first time in as many months, I chanted my greeting: “Good morning, Joe!”
He looked at me as though I had risen from the dead, and I sensed the miracle was as true in me that day as it had been in Lazarus 2000 years earlier.
As I returned to the front steps, cleansed and shaven, I realized that the Son had risen in me. The blue sky was a shade thus far unrevealed, a color reserved for Heaven itself. My senses were awakened by the sweet aroma of lilac blossoms, accompanied by a chorus of yellow warblers. The weary weight of grief was lifted, replaced by a new zeal for life that I hadn’t felt in months. I had been released from the bondage of depression into the dawn of a new morning. A new song resonated through my head: “I am free!”
A summer breeze carried away the colorlessness of winter while warmth magnified the new growth of spring. I discovered hope in the duration of the prolonged daylight. I glimpsed a future beyond the pain of sorrow and the root of unhappiness. I heard God’s voice in the rustling of leaves and the call of the cricket. Life converted back to a thing worth living and not one to dread.
In the midst of summer, God’s light reveals His nature, His heart, His love. If we couldn’t recognize Him before, we surely can’t miss Him now. All things are not perfect, but neither are they hidden or blurred as in previous seasons.
Father, thank You for a season where Your light shines brightest, where your warmth sustains, where Your love prevails. Thank You for allowing Your Son to rise in me. Indeed, I have been set free.
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