For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:Romans 1:20 (KJV)
My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us, and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him.
Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year. It brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.Rev. Billy Graham
Listen with your heart, you will understand.Pocahontas
I’ve been through a lot of grief in my life, as a lot of us have. But nothing prepares you for the loss of your spouse, the one you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with. I became a widow on August 29, 2020, at 54 years old. This is a message of encouragement, from my heart to yours. I know that with so much tragedy going on in our world right now, we all need all the encouragement we can get. I also know that in my humble service to our Lord, I want to do as Paul told us, when he said we are to “comfort others with the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). So, with this in mind, I could not just keep this to myself.
You know, it never ceases to amaze me, the places encouragement can come from. I know what you’re thinking…How on earth would you find encouragement from a weed? Yet of all the places it could have come from, that’s what happened on one of my morning walks the other day…
You’re probably thinking I’m one of those eccentrics that think everything “talks” to you. Who knows, maybe we all get that way to a certain extent as we get older. No, I’m not, really. It’s just that, well, to be bluntly honest, becoming a widow during your empty nest years has a way of changing a person. In the now going on three years since I lost my husband, Keith, to Covid, I’ve gone through a lot of changes. I’ve evolved. I guess you could say, in the sometimes unbearably long periods of time spent living alone, I’ve become more quietly attentive. When you live alone, and there is no one left but the dog and the four walls, you quickly find that sometimes, it can seem the walls are closing in on you.
So, I’ve done a lot of thinking, praying, and spending time reading God’s Word. Sure, I’m active in my church, and I do try to spend time with family when I can. But that isn’t always possible when your kids are all spread out, working hard on their college careers and raising their kids. Plus, in addition to all of that, I am a writer, trying to balance all of this with time to work on my books. Yet through it all, it’s during this journey I never expected to be on that I’ve talked to God more, probably more than I ever have. I’ve walked the trails at the local trails park more than I did before. Sometimes just me and my “Gracie Girl”, my four-legged companion (she loves it) go just to walk and enjoy nature. It’s during these times that I have found myself connecting with our Creator more than ever before.
In truth, these times just getting out and enjoying God’s creation have been a big part of my healing journey. But it didn’t start out that easily. The first phases of adjusting to this new season were very difficult. I found myself going through some sort of phase of entertaining this never-ending need to go to all the places we’d gone to, do all the things we’d done together, like a part of my mind just couldn’t accept it. But as I gradually realized each time that all that was left was just a huge void by my side where he’d been, or just a cold, empty chair across the table from me, it was only then that I finally began to accept the fact that all I had left were the memories. It’s funny (strange) how it took me going through all of this to get it through my head that he was really gone. Like so many of us, that cold slap in the face of the reality, when it finally hits you, was probably the hardest for me. I finally realized what I had been denying. He’s gone, and he’s not coming back. Yet now, I know it’s only through God’s grace that I was finally able to let go and just learn to be at peace with cherishing the memories.
Now, it’s all crystal clear. That was just my way of processing it all, of finding my way through the long, dark, twisting corridors of the labyrinth of grief, from the initial stages of anger and denial, into the final easing into the acceptance/gratitude phase of it all. Of course, when you’re in denial, it’s like some uninformed child in the back of your poor, grief struck mind thinks that if you keep going to all those places, eating at all the same restaurants, doing all the things you did together, somehow, he’s going to be there, waiting for you. I guess it’s a control thing too, in a way. Same reason that for a long time, I couldn’t stop cooking enough for him. Call it crazy, but, well, we all have our ways of dealing with grief, and that was mine. This is my journey. But now, I know that I was never “alone” in it all. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, promised He would never leave us, nor forsake us, and He meant it (see Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5).
For years, my mother cooked enough for my brother, Charles, whom we lost at 9 years old, when I was 12. It’s as if somehow, that’s part of your mind’s way of finding comfort, because in a sense, it’s your way of “keeping them there with you”. I’m at peace now with it all, though I don’t think the pain will ever truly go away. Yet, by the grace of God, it does become more bearable, as you gradually ease out of that denial phase. Through those much-needed nature trail walks, you do a lot of thinking and talking with God (or just in your own back yard 🙂 ). Over time, as you trust His grace, you finally feel yourself easing into that acceptance/gratitude phase. It’s during these times when I can just shut out the rest of the world, and it’s just “me and God”, as Josh Turner sings in his song, that I feel myself reconnecting with God and His healing power.
Now, I’m just thankful that God gave us another chance. You can read a little of our story here. I’m truly thankful for the precious memories I get to keep, of the time we spent together, and that I know because Jesus was his Lord and Savior, and he left this world with no unforgiveness in his heart, he is with Him.
Three months later, after my husband passed away, we lost my mother, though from different causes. I can tell you, there is no void left in your world quite like the one you feel after your mother is gone. So, at least I am most certainly not alone, as Dad and I are on this journey together. He and Mama were happily married for 56 years. Then too, losing my brother when I was just 12 years old pretty much marred the rest of my childhood. But then, over the years, as I have matured spiritually, God has helped me to see it all from a more positive perspective. I know that my little brother served the Lord all his short life, with all his heart, and I know that I will see him again, as we will all of those who rest in the Lord. We need only search the Scriptures to be comforted in God’s promises on this. His comforting reassurance of those who sleep in Christ being resurrected in the rapture is given in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Trail walks are great, and a weekend or day trip to the beach or the mountains, even better. But we need only look right in our front yard for God’s messengers. His creation is all around us, speaking volumes to us about His promises. Yet it is sometimes only in the face of the most unbearable tragedies and storms of life, when we have suddenly found ourselves alone, that we finally begin to notice these quiet messengers. It is only then that we will finally begin to hear what our Creator has been trying to tell us all along. If you only learn how to quiet yourself and look around, you’ll see that all of His creation speaks volumes to us. We have only to learn how to listen, not with our ears so much as with our heart.
So, it is with this perspective that I want to share with you the powerful message I felt emanating from this humble little messenger, a simple weed, in a simple moment of quiet listening with my heart. Of course, I heard no words. After all, we know weeds can’t really “talk” (oh, but the stories they could tell if they could). Yet I knew the words reverberating into my being, like water to a parched soul, were being translated from the Creator Himself, the One Who made it. It went something like this:
“I’m just a weed. I’m not a big, fancy flower, just a humble dandelion weed, with all my plain, simple pedals already fallen off. I’ll soon be gone. If they mow the grass tomorrow, it will be quicker, but don’t worry, it will be painless.
However my time here ends, in that moment, my brief life will be over. But if you are standing here in this moment, seeing me still here in all my humble simplicity, then my short time gracing this earth will not be in vain, for you see, it is our Creator, God, the Father that made us both, Who knew you would come along today and see me. So, it was He Who placed me here with this simple message I am giving you now.
It was Jesus Himself Who put me here, knowing you would walk by in this moment, carrying the deep wounds of grief and sadness you have endured. You see, I cannot walk as you can. I can only stand here, planted in this one spot until my time is over. But you can, so He walks with you and leads you. It was He Who put it in your heart to take that walk this morning, wasn’t it? He knew I couldn’t come to you, so He had to lead you to me, so that before my time was up, I could deliver His message to you.
You see, the message isn’t really from me. It’s from Him. I’m only the messenger He chose to convey it to you. No, I’m not a big, beautiful red rose, a pure, white lily, or even a simple daisy. I’m no stately sunflower, or pretty daffodil. Just a plain old weed, but I am still His creation. We’ve been hated, dug up, poisoned, and most of the time, we grow in all the wrong places. I’ve stood through many storms, and even been trampled on. Yet, I had a purpose for being here, because He saw you, and knew you would need this message.
I’m only a plain, simple weed, a dying weed flower that only blooms for a short time. But I have survived. Through His grace, I survived through it all, just to be here for you this morning, to give you the message He gave me for you. If you’re still standing here, you have survived too. He had a reason for you to still be here right now. You haven’t gone through your storms alone, for He’s been right there, walking by your side through it all.
He loves you so much, He even sent the Savior to die for you and take the punishment for your sins so you could be with Him in Heaven one day. That’s how special you are to Him. You mean so much more to Him than I do, and you are more precious to Him than all those birds singing. I don’t hear them, because He didn’t give me ears. I don’t see them, because He didn’t give me eyes. I don’t even feel the joy and peace their songs can bring you, because He didn’t give me a heart. But you can, because He made you in His image, and He gave you those gifts. So don’t take them for granted.
So, if you mean so much more to Him that I do, and even more than those birds singing, and He brought me through all of the storms I’ve faced just to be here for you, then how much more will He not also carry you through your storms by His divine grace and never-ending mercy?
I’ll be gone soon. I probably won’t be here when you come back. It was just in this moment, this one special moment that will never come again, that He chose for you to be here and planned your steps so you would see me. That’s why He chose this exact spot and placed me here. You see, He kept me through all the rain, the wind, and the storms, just so I could deliver this message to you…
…before I’m gone.
With all the love from our Creator’s heart, just for you,
A humble weed.
Well, there you have it. That’s just about as plain and clear as it gets. It speaks volumes to us all, about our wonderful Heavenly Father’s infinite wisdom and unlimited power to use any and all of His creation, in any way He chooses, to speak to us if we only learn how to listen. Actually, dandelion tea has some health benefits. if you’d like to do your own research on that. So, as it turns out, that pesky weed that is hated by so many, has its good qualities. I enjoyed a nice, hot cup of it this morning. Now, every time you sip a cup of it, I hope you will remember this message our Lord chose this humble dying dandelion to give us.
As I said, we must learn to listen with the heart if we are ever to learn to hear Him. After all, it only makes sense that if He created it all, then He can use any of it to speak to us. It’s speaking volumes all around us, just as the above Scripture verse at the beginning of this post says. But don’t just take my word for it. Jesus Himself had this to say…
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)
I’ve included a video for you below, with a song by Gordon Mote that I hope will bring you some comfort. Keith and I were blessed to sing with our church choir, accompanying him on 3 of his songs, when he came to our church, about a year before we got sick. Finally, I would like to offer up this prayer for you, spoken by Paul in Ephesians:
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.“ – Ephesians 3:14-18
God, our loving Heavenly Father is heralding the wonderful news of His perfect love, grace, healing, comfort, encouragement, and salvation all around us. He has embedded the messages of His promises in all His creation. It’s literally being blasted all throughout the universe. But take it from one who knows. It is only when the noise of the world is finally quieted, sometimes in ways we would have never wanted, that we will finally hear it. Are you listening?
I hope that this message has brought you some comfort in whatever way grief has touched your life. I also hope and pray that if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will accept His invitation to walk with you and guide you by asking Him into your heart today. If you have been encouraged by this message, please feel free to share with someone you know who needs His message of comfort and love.
In Christ’s service,
From a widow‘s journey