I think of Jack's favorite Bible verse, "For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37. It reminds us of our little boy and his big faith. We have it on the blue ribbon magnets on our cars and in our hearts.
It comes from the story of the virgin birth. How strange it all sounds: a baby would be born to a teenage virgin, of no stature or fortune, and this baby would grow up to take our sins upon himself so that we could have eternal life. Huh? Sounds impossible.
We'd always read it like, "Nothing is impossible for God." If God can pull off a virgin birth, and our salvation, you can see why Jack believed God could do so much in his young life: help him make friends, get a hit in baseball, and live out his big ideas and values in a world that didn't seem to appreciate them all that much.
This verse told Jack that despite the concerns of his days, God had him covered!
A few months after the accident, when the shock started to wear off and the pain seeped into my bones, my heart, even my hair follicles, I started thinking of the verse a little differently. To me, it now meant, "For (even with God) nothing is impossible." Oh dear. Even when you walk with God, things that seemed impossible, are possible, like a safety conscious child dying (DYING!) in a creek on a wet, balmy night in suburbia. Or in a kindergarten classroom. Or at a marathon. Or in a sinkhole.
Any illusion of control I had for my family's safety and future was gone. Holding tightly to my plans and expectations was as fruitless as trying to carry water in my cupped palms while scaling a cliff.
What once seemed impossible within the structure of our simple, fairly predictable lives was indeed possible, and I didn't like it. Not one teeny little bit.
On September 8, 2011 I had to let go of my misconception that if I loved enough, prayed enough, and worried enough, my family would "be okay." This realization came to our family that day, but I think it comes to all of us at some point or another.
Later, a friend and I talked about Jack's verse. What did it mean to us now? Surely God could have saved Jack. He can do the impossible! Reviving a drowned person is not too difficult a task for God. It should be easy! What is breathing life back into a boy's lungs compared to forming the universe? And if Jack had been revived, having had a near death experience, he and I could have taken our show on the road. We would commit ourselves to speaking out for God, sharing hope of heaven and the beautiful miracle of Jack's survival. Doesn't that sound like a much better plan than leaving Margaret an only/lonely child?
But God didn't do what He surely could do. And I've had to let go of trying to understand why, at least for now. At least for today.
And Jack's verse changed for me, slightly, once again. "For with God nothing is impossible." The task in front of families who have lost children seems impossible. Truly. To wake up each day. To function. To forgive. To breathe. We can try to do the impossible without God, in our own strength, out of unbelief, hurt, bitterness or even anger that He has allowed these terrible things to happen in the first place. It is tempting, believe me.
Or we can let go of the control we never had and let Him help us in our current, impossible situation.
And we can trust God to make something beautiful out of something terrible. I don't know how that works, but I think it can and it does. And if I've learned anything, it's that He stays close to the brokenhearted and performs miracles, even if they aren't the ones we would have chosen.
And we can recognize that while we can't control everything, we can do something. We can offer ourselves up, even in the smallest ways, to share the light with others by continuing to care for people, by showing up when things look hopeless, and by doing good in the face of great evil. Not because any of it will guarantee our children's safety, but because it's the right thing to do.
I've been waiting to send a reader a "Jack's Promise" Pendant from Holly Lane Designs. This week it seemed like we might need to remind ourselves "For Nothing is Impossible with God." Tiffany Scott, my favorite jewelry designer, used a Mobius strip, which represents an impossibility that is somehow possible! She also chose it because Jack loved puzzles and brainteasers almost as much as he loved God and Legos. Jack's verse is carved into the silver. My sister wears hers on a silver chain with a small crystal teardrop. If you would like to enter to win this pendant, just write "Luke 1:37" in the comments. Giveaway closes Monday, April 22 at 10 pm.
Jack's Promise Pendant:
My sister's neck.