“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”—John 8:12 (NIV)
As I celebrated my daughter’s 24th birthday this past weekend, I was also reminded that it has also been 24 years since I found Jesus.
24 years ago, when I was 28 and five months pregnant with my daughter, my first husband, John Gardemal, tragically died in a drowning accident while we were vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Had I walked to the other side of the beach with him not only would I not be writing this post, but my daughter wouldn’t be here either.
Last week, I shared how I am a type 6 on the Enneagram. At the core I am a worrier. On that day, when I saw how rough the water was when we got out of the boat, there was no way I was walking to the other side of the beach. A few of us stayed back while John and four others went to check to see if the water conditions were better on the other side.
Little did they know it was worse. He and the others were swept in the ocean by a riptide. John and one other man drown. That evening, as I sat alone on the floor of my hotel room, wracked with grief, I cried out to God because I didn’t know what else to do. I was worried that my gut wrenching sobbing was going to cause a miscarriage. I still couldn't believe it had happened. I kept hoping, I would wake up and it will have been a bad dream, but it wasn’t. It was now my reality.
While I had been raised in the church, once I got to high school, besides Christmas and Easter, I didn’t attend church. Because the foundation was there, even though things seemed bleak in my life, thankfully I found a faith I didn’t know existed. God surrounded me with strong Christian people, that led me back to Jesus. Whether you are a Christian or not, nothing can ever totally prepare you for the sudden death of a loved one, but when you do have Jesus in your heart, He is able to pick your head up off of that pillow when you don’t think you can get out of bed.
I thank God that I had a 2-year old son and was pregnant. They were the sunshine on my dark and dreary days. My son is what got me out of bed each day and my daughter kept me fed. I had to feed my body to nourish the little life that I was carrying inside of me. She was my last link to John. She gave me life at a time when I didn’t want to go on living. Those that were with me during that time know that my hashtag #shegavemelife next to my post celebrating her birthday means just that.
God didn’t just give me life with my daughter, but He also gave me life through His son, Jesus. He was my light in my darkness. I found out what it meant to have faith and the healing power of prayer. I also know that no matter what happens in my life that God’s Word tells me in Psalm 91:2 that He is my refuge and fortress in whom I can trust. In the midst of any grief that you or I may endure in this life, this month’s memory verse from Psalm 143 reminds us; God loves us and when we put our trust in Him and share our burdens with Him, He will guide us in the way we should go.
John’s death and the grief that followed it became the stepping-stones to my faith in Christ. Pain can either make you mad at God or pull you closer to Him for relief. It’s up to us to make the choice. I am a walking testimony of how God can work good through life’s bitterest experiences.
While my first husband’s death brought indescribable heartache, it also brought me some of life’s greatest joys, such as finding Jesus. I have a love for the Lord, that I don’t know I would have ever found had I not been in that pit of pain. I love life. I let those that I love know how much they mean to me. I don’t take life for granted. God has blessed me with a man for over 19 years to be my husband and father to my children. When you can focus on all of your blessings rather than all of your losses, it helps keep life in perspective.
I have hope. I know that there is more to this life. One day I will not only be reunited with my Heavenly Father, but also with my loved ones that have gone before me. John’s death is only one thread in the weaving of my life. As long as we are breathing, God can and will use us to share the love of Jesus with those around us. One of those ways I am doing that is through my knitting ministry. Where can you shine a little light in someone’s life this week?
Your Word tells me that when I follow You, I won’t ever walk in darkness because You are my Light. I praise You for Your grace, mercy and love for someone like me that strayed from her faith for so many years. I give thanks that I have a Best Friend on whom I can lean on during times of crisis. I ask that You use me this week to be a light in someone’s life. It is in the name of Jesus that I pray these things. Amen.
October Memory Verse
“Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you. My prayers go up to you; show me the way I should go.”—Psalm 143:8 (GNT)
Please make sure you tweet @KnitPrayShare or share your projects on the Knit, Pray, Share Facebook page or Instagram using the hashtag #KnitPrayShare. Be sure to attach a tag to whatever gift you make.