September 27, 2012
I just finished my first Biblical Hebrew class this past weekend.
And I’m hooked.
I am completely entrenched in the Old Testament this semester. It has an unparalleled magic that often gets overlooked on a regular day. This is an unfortunate phenomenon given how clearly the character of God is revealed here in the early days of Scripture. God wasn’t being coy when he brought his precious Israelites out of Egypt and into his care; he made sure they knew who exactly it was that they were dealing with. Though their relationship would be tumultuous through the next generations and even up to today, the mutual tenderness from the days of old has remained deeply rooted in the hearts of the people and those that followed after.
This is an intimacy that strikes me square in my chest every time I hear about it. The power of it, its ability to affect deeply, those who learn of it comes only from the self-sustaining, all-knowing Father wishing to show us more of himself.
It’s something we can only hope to have a glimpse of while we’re here.
In light of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend I had a few years ago. We attended the same church at the time, and were in the same discipleship group. Looking around the room in my mind, there wasn’t a twenty-something piled on those couches that wasn’t bringing the weight of the world to our Thursday night meetings, and my friend was no different.
She was slowly losing her dad to a malignant brain tumor.
Our discipleship group was a second family for all of us. I would say we were among those in her life praying the hardest for a miraculous healing. As the weeks passed, we watched his condition continue to decline. For a girl in her early twenties, we all knew this was about to be world-shattering. Things were already starting to crumble.
There was one last surgery. Seemingly endless hours in the operating room. It had been a long, brutal day for a man weakened already from the long months of the fight for his life. It was late when he got back to his hospital room. The family had gone to get something to eat while they waited; except my friend, who slept quietly in the recliner next to his bed. The monitors beeping proof of life into the silence of the dark room. He would sleep. She would sleep too.
Suddenly, she awoke to stirring. She sat up quickly, worried something was happening to him. She turned to find him getting up, pain hitching his breathing as he squeezed into the chair with her.
“Dad... what’s wrong? Are you ok?”
“It’s ok. I just want to hold you.”
He passed a few days later. I attended the reception for his funeral, and stories much like this one were told to remember a man who loved his family with everything he had until there was nothing left of him. She wrestled with his passing in the days to come. I remember she shared a journal entry with us that was heavy with grief. But toward the end, a revelation:
The presence of God is thick in my room right now.
This had such a profound effect on me. The beginning of the journal entry had been so tormented with such a devastating loss. She had never been one to express herself like this. She brought us into the darkness of her room that night; how the love of the most important man in her life was now gone.
But then, in the midst of the dark, the Father of Light made himself so unmistakably present. He didn’t take away the grief. He was there with her in the midst of it. Such a timely, beautiful interruption and presentation of everlasting intimacy.
Much like the Israelites sustained in the desert by a loving God, we glean unexplainable strength from moments like these that keep us going.
We can’t miss this.
Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.