It was an unforgettable moment during the She Speaks conference. Leah, Nancy and I finally connected and we sat at a breakfast table in the Embassy Suites atrium laughing until we cried. Wave after wave of loud, ridiculous giggles kept coming during our time together until folks started to stare and I was sure orange juice was going to come spurting out of my mouth!
Later, one of the conference attendees stopped me. ‘Boy,’ she said, ‘Sure looked as though you and your friends were having a great time at breakfast. What was going on? Old friends getting together?’
‘No’, I smiled. ‘Not old friends, new friends. Friends brought together by a bond that we never would have dreamed and ever would have wished. Actually, we are all widows. Brought together by our writing for the Widows Might blog.’
Her jaw dropped. There was one of those awkward moments where no one really quite knows what to say.
‘Wow’, she whispered, ‘I never would have guessed that’. ‘You guys all seem so…happy.’
I walked away, pondering her comments, and had to smile to myself.
Yes, we are all at different stages in our grief journey. This is not a matter of pretending the hurt is not there. But more of giving it to Him to use. There is no telling when the next wave will hit. Or if it will. But for now, we are living in the moment. Tickled pink at a chance to look into each other’s eyes and know that we ‘got it’.
I love the fact that we weren’t wearing our circumstances on our faces. That someone was surprised to hear our ‘back’ stories and the paths we have walked.
Many years ago, three Jews, believers in the one true God, also found themselves walking through desperate circumstances. (Daniel 3) Threatened by the king, they refused to bow to a golden image as he had commanded and so were thrown into a fiery furnace. One that had been made seven times hotter than usual at the kings insistence. Not only were they not burned, but God appeared in the fire alongside them. And when they came out of the furnace ‘not a hair was burned and there was no smell of smoke upon them’.
No smell of smoke.
That’s what my questioning friend was getting at.
We have each been through a ridiculously hot fire, but we lived to tell about it, and our hair didn’t get burned. God has walked through every minute with us.
And maybe, just maybe , through His amazing grace, there is ‘no smell of smoke on us’ either.
I want people to say that about me.
I want people to say that about you.
After the three Jews came out of the furnace, many came to the Lord because of the witness their very presence presented. Through their circumstance, the king came to believe in the one true God! The fact that their hair was not even singed and that there was ‘no smell of smoke’ upon them spoke more to others than a hundred sermons.
Lord, only you know what the future holds for each of us. I pray you hold each of my sisters as she walks through her today with you by her side. May she feel your presence, feel your strong hand in the small of her back and your hand brushing the tears from her eyes. And Lord, through your grace, may there be no smell of smoke on any of us. We love you. We trust you. Amen.
Isaiah 61:3 ….provide for those who grieve in Zion–bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 43:9 ‘Let them present themselves as witnesses to that people may hear and see and say, “It is true.”