The Second Year – “With water you can do anything”

Last night I had the privilege of having dinner with friends and visiting with Pastor Jephthe Lucien and his family who are from Haiti.

Jephthe is the lead pastor of the Jerusalem Baptist Ministries in Pignon, Haiti. His wife, Mitou, oversees the finances of JBM’s micro-loan program and the Del la Grace Christian School. The Luciens have two young boys, Dominick and Abdel. Our church (Groton Bible Chapel) has partnered with JBM’s evangelical and humanitarian outreach for the past three years. It is through JBM that we feed school children, support orphanages, build wells, construct buildings, provide health services, host conferences, and attempt to help JBM where help is needed.

I will remember last night for a long time. The impact our time together had on me was life altering. In fact I am having a hard time finding words to describe what I am thinking and feeling. But I will do my best.

I wrote about a well in my previous blog, “The Second Year – Living Water Well Update“. The Thomonde well is in quite a remote area. And Jephthe described this newly constructed well as “lonely”, sitting in the middle of a large field. Why would you construct a well in the middle of a field? So you can build a community around it. The water from this well will enable construction of a church building to start in March.  I had never thought about the need for water in order to build buildings. Of course, Mike would have understood that! As Jephthe said,

“With water, you can do anything.”

I was overwhelmed as Jephthe described day to day life and just how much this well will improve the lives of those in the community.  The need for water is critical for so many reasons.

And just as critical is the need for hope.

When Jephthe came to visit two years ago, Mike was moved deeply by the needs of the people of Haiti. In the inside cover of his Bible, Mike wrote these words from Jephthe’s message:

“Needs are an opportunity for God to do great things.”

How true. As I take a broad look at the events of the last two years, I am in awe. Mike had such a strong desire to go to Haiti.  I have great sorrow in my heart that he did not get that opportunity and yet I cannot deny the great joy that has come to others out of our loss. If Mike was alive today, would the well in Thomonde exist? Would any of the wells have been built? I don’t know. But I do know that the people of Jerusalem Baptist Ministries have more access to water than they did when Mike was alive. In his death, more people have access to life giving water. And this water gives them hope. One kind of hope. But there is another kind too, and that involves living water of another source:

“Jesus shouted to the crowds, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me.’” John 7:37,38

It is this type of Living Water that carried us through Mike’s illness and continues to carry me still. I daily drink of his Words and hold onto his promises in the Scriptures. Promises that I am never alone, that my mourning will be replaced with joy, and that God has a plan for my life – for good, for a future. I realized that my sorrow has made me thirsty for hope for the future and just as Jephthe said,

“With Water you can do anything.”

I deeply thank everyone who gave to the Wells for Haiti at Groton Bible Chapel and through the Mike G Living Waters Golf tournament. You responded to the needs of the people of Haiti and God has done great things. My hope is that everyone who has given money for these wells will experience, at some point, the Living Water that gives me hope as I continue to face the uncertainties of this life.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13,14

The Second Year – More loss, more challenge, more growth

On Monday, I attended the memorial service for our dear friend, Josh. It was held in the auditorium in the high school where he taught for the past ten years. It was packed. It was a wonderful time for faculty, students, friends, and family of Josh’s to honor him and to recognize Josh’s faithful personal relationship with God publicly. Usually there are custodians to pay, doors to unlock, security to deal with, and other hoops to jump through when trying to access public school spaces during break. Not so yesterday. Bravo to Josh’s Waterford High School for giving us all the opportunity to come together, in a space that was big enough, to laugh and weep and thank God for the privilege of knowing Josh.

To be honest, it was a challenge for me to attend Josh’s memorial service. There were aspects of his courageous battle with cancer that were so very similar to Mike’s. His selflessness, kindness, care for others in the midst of his own trials, and incredible courage. As I walked into the auditorium I was overcome with sadness, my knees were shaking, and I had to concentrate on taking one step at a time. Memories flooded my mind and heart. It was a very intense “I still can’t believe this is my life” moment. And then I saw Josh’s beautiful young wife and quickly my thoughts became, “I can’t believe this is now her life as well.” My heart broke. Again. For Josh’s wife. For his family, his friends, students, co-workers, his community.

And then we sang.

Nothing can separate
Even if I ran away
Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes
But You have new mercies for me everyday
Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There maybe pain in the night but joy comes in the morning.

And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me

Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water’s deep
But I’m not alone in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails

The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I’d reach the other side
But Your love never fails.

And my heart was comforted. The tears came. The God who Mike and Josh loved while they were with us is the same God whose love never fails. When the waves of emotion hit. Or the winds of change blow. Or the deep sense of loss tempts me to pull the covers over my head. When I get stuck wondering what the future holds, I am reminded that I do not have to be afraid. Because the God of the universe loves me. And His love never fails.  Sometimes I wonder how I will get through the next day, week, month, year. And then I remember, His love never fails.

And here we are. The first day of the New Year. As I reflect on 2013 – my first full year without my dear Mike – I stand in awe of how fast the year passed. I guess this is what happens when you focus on living one day at a time.  I am so thankful for the family and friends who have walked with me through this past year. And continue to do so. Even the other day, more than a couple of people after the service reminded me that they pray for me every night. I cried. It is so easy to feel as though others have forgotten. Clearly, this is not true.

And so I look forward in hope, knowing that God’s love surrounds me – through the beauty of His creation, people, and his Son. I am well loved. I pray expectantly for this  year ahead knowing that I will reach the other side.

Your Love Never Fails