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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Holy Moments

Holy moments, slices of our time on earth when we glimpse behind the veil to what is more real. One of those occurred yesterday when I read a comment on the post “But the Kingdom Comes”. Look for it. It is signed “Cindy”, as in Cindy the mother of Jessica, the 21 year old woman who died in a car accident while at our pre-field missionary orientation on her way to join WHM’s Spain team. As a mother she could be bitter, angry, bewildered, hopeless. And if those emotions are part of her grief in this fallen world, then she could find plenty of psalms, laments, and Biblical cries to reflect her protest. But instead she wrote to connect with and encourage us, a holy bond of grief and common cause. I held my breath reading her words, unworthy to be included in her burial-day thoughts. The closest I can come to imagining her loss were three babies of ours dying by miscarriage in 1991 and 1992, starting the month we joined WHM. An unseen baby nearly broke my heart; how much more a 21 year old daughter. So I can only thank this woman for expressing her faith on this blog, and choosing to hold on to God in the midst of her storm. A friend and fellow-missionary in Prague put an excellent book on grief into my hands Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff, which I’ve been reading. Whether we infer that there is an Enemy working against the Kingdom by murdering new recruits, or just that following a call from God does not serve as a ticket to a long and easy life untouched by the chaotic evil of illness and injury, Jessica’s death sobers us all. The Kingdom is, once again, confirmed to be serious business. People get hurt. A few other holy moments this week:
  • Annelise and I both got sick, and at about the same time took the uncharacteristic decision that we needed to go to bed in the middle of the day . . . When I got up I found that (unbeknownst to either of us) her kids had had been dropped off at our house. . . And they had a holy afternoon of great play, allowing both of us to rest and recover, entertaining each other harmoniously. Whenever kids of disparate ages who have spent months apart from each other are able to be happy and independent for three hours, there is a sense of God’s presence.
  • Friday, Luke’s birthday, the three friends he had invited did not show up all afternoon, and at nearly 7 pm we had almost finished cooking his “feast” and were searching for ways to soften the blow of disappointment in this season of disappointments for him, when they at last arrived. When my kids can spend a weekend with friends who are 3 to 4 years older, and of a completely different life background, and yet laugh and watch a video and hike through the forest and play cards and read books and eat . . .I sense the holiness of God’s presence with us.
  • Also on Friday, Kevin was finally able to share with the CSB staff the Bartkovich family’s plan to leave Bundibugyo after their long service to CSB. Though most probably realized that a trip to the US was in their near future for one of the Home Ministry Assignments (HMAs) we all take, they were appropriately distressed and shocked by the news that he would not return to CSB after this break. I’m thankful that Scott and David could be present to witness that moment, and Annelise and I were able to be together at home praying for Kevin’s words and heart as he spoke. This is a huge turning point for the school, and the team, and a bit more like Jessica’s death in that we glimpse behind the veil here to believe God is present and at work, but the rending of the veil is painful.


Cindy Nore said...

This is Cindy Nore, Jessica Pety's mom. Jess is the 21 year old WHM missionary who died in a car accident on her way to church last Sunday with a group of fellow missionaries who were finishing up their training at MTI. This morning I received an encouraging email from Lee, whose daughter used to serve in Bundibugyo. I had written him back and originally intended my note to be a personal one to him. But Jennifer, if you are reading this,I wanted you to see it too. You are such a big part of how I am coping, and I thought it might encourage you to read of the impact your family and your faith have had on me, so I am posting my response to Lee below. I added a few things I did not send to Lee that I felt impressed to write as well. God bless - Cindy

Hi Lee - your note came at a perfect, God-ordained time. My husband has just gone back to work today, and I am spending this week writing emails of appreciation, taking care of some loose ends, and asking God to cement in me deeply those truths that will carry me in days ahead.

I had no idea at the time why I was so emotionally involved in the Myhres blog these last few months. Even Jessica was a little concerned about the depths of my sadness as I followed all the events that were unfolding. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night to read the blogs. What was so meaningful to me was the fact that Jennifer could just pour from the heart all those emotions that are so real - sorrow and frustration and fear, and not apologize for feeling them; but she kept reminding me through the posts of the hope and joy and peace and contentment that are so supernatural. She reminded me over and over again that God is in control, even when the darkness seems great. She told of countless small mercies that God provided to sustain them in the midst of what seemed like insurmountable darkenss.

Though I did not know it at the time. Jennifer's processing of the grief they have been through laid a framework that is enabling me to walk this road. It's okay that I feel sad, and that I miss Jess with all my heart, but Jennifer has reminded me daily through her blogs that there are bigger purposes at work, that God is all powerful and all good, and that the evil and darkness we see are not Satan being victorious, but rather the evidence of sin in a fallen world, and that God is still omnipotent, all powerful, and fully able to take anything life brings and use it to His glory.

I see the small mercies God was already providing the days before she died; that Jess and I talked every day on the phone the week prior to her death; that I called her on that last Friday night and heard the joy in her voice as she and two friends from MTI were on their way to visit New Mexico, a two and half hour drive, but one they wanted to make because it sounded fun to visit another state; that she and I told each other again, as we always did, how much we loved each other. In the last few days, His mercies have truly been new every morning. I just got from MTI a coffee mug Jess had bought me the day before she died; the journal she was using, and the writings reflect a heart that loved Jesus so fully. She even said in her journal these words the day before she died:

"Lord, here I am. Take me as I am. Keep me close to you, Lord Jesus. I don’t want to leave Father for fear of what I don’t know. But I thank you Lord for opening my heart to a new level. May we be united in you, Lord, and never lose our passion for what all of this is about. Father, thank you – for beauty and hobbies and rest and people and smiles and blogs and home and adventures and so many other things.

Be with me Lord – I can ask nothing more."

What a blessing to know that my child knew her heavenly Father was all sufficient, and what a challenge to me to find Him to be the same.

I have been spending a great deal of time lately in the Old Testament. I recently read again about Joseph's horrible ordeal - hated by his jealous brothers, who even would have killed him had Reuben not intervened; sold into slavery; unjustly accused of a crime and thrown into prison. Even after Joseph interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker and asked them to remember him to Pharoah, hoping he would get out of prison, he had to wait two full years before either of them even remembered him. How could this man not be bitter? How could he ever forgive his brothers?

Yet years later, when the very brothers who tried to kill Joseph now needed the food Joseph had to literally not starve to death, Joseph's response was this: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." The pain I feel is real, and the loss I feel is great, but I feel confident that God can use the accident that claimed Jessica's life to save many others as they contemplate what it means to die for a Saviour who first died for us.

Jennifer, I had no idea that you had even read my post. After I got Lee's note, I went back on the website and was overwhelmed that not only had you read my post, but that my precious Jess was the subject of a post as well. That a family like yours would honor Jess by posting about her is a gift greater than any I could receive.

I covet your prayers and will keep all of you in mine as we continue to live for Holy Moments. God bless - Cindy

Carol M said...

Wow! what a prayer. What insight of a young woman. Reading the post at the left. The journal posting of Jess shortly before her going to be in the loving arms of Jesus.. What a comfort that must be to you Cindy. My love and prayers to you and those grieving. I pray you find joy in your tears. Comfort in your faith. And that you feel the love that flows to you.
Prayers, Carol

Carol M said...

Wow! what a prayer. What insight of a young woman. Reading the post at the left. The journal posting of Jess shortly before her going to be in the loving arms of Jesus.. What a comfort that must be to you Cindy. My love and prayers to you and those grieving. I pray you find joy in your tears. Comfort in your faith. And that you feel the love that flows to you.
Prayers, Carol