We are pleased to announce Real Mercy (volume 3) has a scheduled release date of August 2015. Wesleyan Publishing House has contracted Thad for 2 more books. In these current blogs, we’d like to share sneak peaks from volume 4. We hope you enjoy it.Please note: Part One will be a devotion from scripture. Part Two will be a journal entry based on that scripture.
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Then Jacob became angry and…said to Laban,
“God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”
---Genesis 31:36, 42 ESV
I get up to go. I promise him I’ll be back in the morning.
He reaches for a notebook on his bedside table, opens it, and flips through the pages. He tells me it’s the journal he kept when his wife was dying.
“I was sitting where you’re sitting now when I wrote this,” he said quietly. He found the page he was looking for and handed it to me. “Mind staying a few minutes? Won’t take long.”
I took the notebook, sat back down, and started to read.
“Out loud, please,” he instructed.
The first entry I saw was dated March 9. “Ellie’s asleep now for the night,” I read, “and it has been a relatively good day. Hospice came twice. Our daughters were here most of the day. A few family and friends, all nicely spaced out, none staying too long. She slept a good deal. In snippets, we kept writing our story little by little.”
I stopped, not understanding. “What story?” I asked.
“Our last few months together, we reminisced. I wrote some of it down and read it back to her. She loved it. She’d make a comment here and there, adding details I’d missed. In her last days, it’s all she wanted me to do. Just read the stories to her. It soothed her somehow.”
He pointed to the top of the next page and told me to keep going.
“March 10th,” I said. “I’m still bothered by our last conversation. Just before she slept last night, she looked at me with those piercing eyes and said, ‘You know this isn’t the way I planned it?’”
“‘I do,’ I tell her and I know what’s coming next. We’ve had this talk before.”
“‘I wanted it the other way around,’ she shrugs.”
“I nod. I tell her I want her better. ‘I feel so helpless, Ellie. I wish I could protect you from all this and I can’t.’ It’s as honest as I can be. I am scared for her, scared for me. I don’t want this to happen and I know it will. I sit here with Death’s army near, circling around the bedside of my wife, and I can do nothing about it, nothing at all.”
“‘You always change the subject,’ she tells me.”
“Yes I do,” I admit.”
“‘Who’s going to sit there when your time comes? Answer me that?’”
“I can’t. She knows I can’t. I mutter something stupid like, ‘I’ll be fine,’ but it annoys her. ‘No you won’t,’ she says sharply. ‘It’s going to be harder for you.’ She stops. She makes me remember my last time in the hospital. My raging fears. Her countless efforts to calm me. She knows how to do it. She knows no one else can.”
“‘Why is it different for you?’ I ask.”
“She’s not afraid of the question. I’ve asked it so many times before in different ways, different circumstances. Usually when I’m at my worst, I beg her to tell me her secret. Sometimes, in response, she reads Scripture to me. Sometimes she prays. Sometimes she brings our Christian friends around. And sometimes she simply sings a quiet song of praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. But nowadays, all she does is reach for my hand and hold it tight.”
“That’s what she does now. And I take it, as I always have.”
“She doesn’t need to say more. In times past, she’s said, ‘When we’re in the shadow of death, when our hands are on His staff and I imagine His hands overtop ours, we have nothing to fear. He has in His control what we do not.’”
“Other times, she’s said, ‘He’s our Watchman, our Mizpah, our stone pillar we can put our hands on. Nobody can harm us now,” and then she squeezes my hand as if, somehow, it’s hers and His and mine all safely wrapped together in one.”
“I feel the squeeze of her hand again.”
“‘I’ll be okay,’ I assure her. I want to say, but I don’t, ‘I wish I knew Jesus like you.’ But she hates when I say that. She always says, ‘That’s not true. You’re too much in your head, that’s all. You have to help your heart feel what you already believe.’”
“I can see she’s impatient. ‘Now answer my question,’ she insists. ‘Who’s going to sit there when your time comes? I don’t want you alone.’”
“I feel the tears warm against my cheek. I squeeze her hand back. She knows I can’t answer her. ‘Today is my day,’ I reply. ‘I get to do what you always do for me. It’s my turn to put your hands into His and your heart into His safe keeping.’ The faintest smile comes over her face. She knows I’m right and gently nods her head.”
“I ache inside. I want to tell her, ‘I have loved you too much. You have been my stone pillar, my Watchman, my Mizpah.’ But I don’t. She wouldn’t like it. She’d tell me Jesus is all that and infinitely more. And she’s right. I know it in my head but not my heart. I don’t want to let go of her hand. And yet, slowly, she pulls it away.”
“And I am left afraid.”
† † †
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”