Justin’s words filtered gently across the darkened room. I had just turned in for the night, but my son now stood quietly at my door, calling softly.
“Mom? I know you’ve gone to bed, but I just wanted to ask you to pray for me.”
“Is it school again? You wanted to talk about it?”
“No, I don’t need to talk about it. God already knows. But…it’s….the kids….it’s just….really hard sometimes! I just need you to pray for me! Just, keep praying for me, Mom….that I have the strength ....”
So we prayed together, like we had so many other times recently, just the two of us. Me, without details, just an aching awareness of my son’s pain. And as Justin returned to his own room, I wondered, once more, what it was his heart could not share. This child who had always shared everything with me. But there was a struggle he was enduring now; not alone, for prayer was his constant companion, but a struggle he did not want me carrying.
A glimpse of its depths came from his older sister, a senior attending the same school. Several times she came home really upset, having witnessing situations involving Justin. But when I asked her what was going on, the response was always evasive.
“They’re just so MEAN to him, Mom! I don’t know how he takes it.”
Any effort to get more information always got the same response, “He wants to handle it himself.”
So I continued to pray, in the dark, knowing that where God walked there was always light. And He walked right by my son’s side throughout each of those days.
It wasn’t until nearly the end of the summer, three weeks before his junior year was to begin, I would learn just how closely God and Justin had been walking together that last year of school.
Insight came after a knock on my door. After the policeman, who was standing there so solemnly, shared news that meant Justin would never again walk through my bedroom door. He had walked through another door, eternity’s door, and left me waiting on the this side for the sound of his voice.
But his quiet voice, asking me to pray for him, would now only be heard in my memories. His laughter, that made the walls of my home ring with life, now shook the rafters in another realm.
Needing my son, I was drawn to his room, desperate to find some remnant of his heart. Some understanding of his life. But the room was all that was left to me. And it was there I discovered the Light he walked in. The wisdom that carried him homeward.
Crumpled in a corner of his sanctuary, a room scattered with pieces of Justin’s life, I discovered the story of his journey these past months. They were written on a page bearing more than his own handwriting. They bore his heart.
"Who knows why they do what they do.
They obviously don’t understand.
Mocking and jeering they think they’ll get through
But my strength, it’s but by God’s hand.
I truly forgive them, but it still hurts –
Not body, but pride,
But I see myself as blessed because
I have a glimpse of what Christ felt like
When He died.
The things that they throw are not just of paper
But stab like daggers in my heart.
To live like Jesus, forgiving them,
Is merely just a start.
To truly be upright and just
I need to do something more.
Pray for them daily and love them the same.
I’ll be even closer to the Lord.
So as they mock and as they throw
There is one thing that I know.
Jesus forgave them and so should I,
Even if they mock me until I die."
My heart broke over what my son had borne these many, many months, though the wonder of the answer Justin discovered overwhelmed me. Not just in his head. But in his heart! Words left not solely to paper, but worn as the shoe-leather of his steps each and every day. Words leaving footprints in heart-soil, as people listening at his funeral knew the powerful love and forgiveness he poured upon them from his poem. Words becoming the very steps that walked him right into the presence of his Father!
“...wisdom...seek her...search for her as for hidden treasure...for the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding...” (Prov. 2:4, 6)