360 days. I truly cannot believe it has been 360 days since I looked into the beautiful blue eyes of my son. They were deep eyes, expressive eyes, and far too often, troubled eyes. His eyes revealed the years-long war he’d been waging against the power of addiction, and sometimes they reflected signs of a battle lost. I saw a lost battle in his eyes that night. My heart sank.
“No, Lord!” I cried. “He’s been doing so well! He’s been fighting the good fight and winning. Please don’t let him fall prey to old habits!”
Oh, how I ached with concern for him. Calmly, but pointedly, I locked my eyes with his, speaking a nonverbal message, “I see.” And he knew what I saw. I braced myself for the work that lay ahead – the hard work I knew he would have to endure in order to rise above this latest surrender to temptation. His dad saw it, too. He took him out for an impromptu round of golf – an attempt to connect over a pastime they loved in order to speak some truth into his heart. Meanwhile, I continued to work on a writing project for The Sublime Soiree – a vlog series about the element of light. Sue and I had interviewed our photographer friend, Ashley, on the subject, and she had given us so many photographic insights that pointed toward God’s amazing use of light in each of our lives – the greatest being Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.
A particular story Ashley shared really moved me, and I continued contemplating it as I took a time out from writing to make dinner for my guys. When they returned from their golf outing, they both were in great spirits, and we gathered on our porch for a summer meal. We talked about our upcoming family vacation to the beach – just a week away – and Noah was excited to discover that his new flip flops had arrived in the mail that day. In the midst of our lighthearted conversation, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about Ashley’s story, and about my son’s inner battle. I asked my husband and Noah if I could tell them the story, and they agreed.
The story is long, so I won’t recount it completely here, but the bottom line was this: in one of her darkest seasons – one in which Ashley questioned her usefulness to God – He assigned her the beautiful task of leading a dying man in a prayer for his salvation. As soon as I was done retelling it, I could see that the story intrigued Noah, too. Noah got up from the dinner table and began to clear off all of our dirty dishes and carry them to the sink. Then he paused, took a step back toward me and we locked eyes for a second time.
“Let me ask you a question,” Noah began. “So, you are saying that someone could spend their entire life trusting in and serving God, and then go to heaven. But you could also live your whole life apart from God, then ask Him to be Lord of your life at the end of it, and you’d still go to heaven?” I was certain Noah already knew the answer, because he had asked these questions over and over his entire life. But I responded anyway, by sharing the words of John 14:1-6:
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
I zeroed in on Thomas’s fears and doubts, because I knew that’s what Noah was feeling. But I stressed Jesus’s response to Thomas. “I am the way, the truth, and the life, (Thomas). No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I tried to explain that Thomas was striving to find the answers on his own, wearing himself out in the process. But Jesus was encouraging him to stop striving and just begin trusting in Him. My hope was that Noah would cease striving, as well.
A few hours later, our son bid me goodnight and went to bed. And sometime in the hours before dawn, he died of an accidental overdose. We were shocked. Devastated. Unable to make sense of what had just happened, but for the saving grace of knowing that God had intervened in the final hours of Noah’s life to point him home. All I could think about for the next several days was how a loving Father gave a praying, desperate mother the final blessing of sowing His truth into her dying son’s heart.
Because our thoughtful God knew my heart. He knew that my greatest ambition for my children is that they pursue their passions, but that they know Jesus as their Savior above all else. And even though we miss him intensely, we are confident that he is with God, no longer striving. All thanks to our Father’s thoughtfulness. Jesus tells us that even the hairs on our head – every one of them – are numbered. (Mark 10:30) And the apostle Paul says that all things were created in Christ and He holds all things together – from the most distant galaxy to the tiniest atom. On June 25 and 26, 2021, I saw just how intimately and thoughtfully God involves Himself in the lives of His children. And I will be forever thankful for that truth.
How about you, dear one? Do you need the gentle care of a thoughtful God? He is ready to help you. Visit this link by clicking here to find a beautiful list of encouragements straight from God’s heart to you. As you read them over, may you discover new ways to live free above the fray.
— Linda R. Maynard © June 2022