My God…is a Wondrous God! On October 15, 1982, God entrusted Homer and I with the care and nurturing of a beautiful baby girl. He led us to name her Rebecca Lynn – Servant of God, Pretty One – or Boo Bear, as she was better known at that time! And our days were filled with sunshine.
She was an incredible jumble of bubbles and smiles, tender-heartedness and fierce independence. Afraid of nothing, more comfortable playing football with little brother Davey and the guys than playing dress-up with big sister Sara, Becky tore through life gathering friends and touching hearts wherever she went. She loved passionately, judged “fairness” keenly, protected those dear to her unashamedly. She was a treasure, born for Heaven’s purposes, bestowed for a season.
My God…is a Joyous God! Anyone who has known Becky – as Becky really was – has seen her rays of sunshine, laughed with her waves of exuberance, rejoiced at her demand to live life to the fullest. By the time she was 10, God had touched her tender heart with C. S. Lewis’ tale of Narnia and Aslan, and she gave her life up to His salvation. Her road was not to be soft, but a path strewn with the boulders of self-doubt and temptation, pockmarked with the pitfalls of falling away and struggling to regain her steps. Even so, by the time she graduated from high school, she found immense joy to be able to look me straight in the eye and confidently announce that “my faith isn’t yours and Daddy’s anymore, Mommy – I’m not trying to ‘ride into heaven on your coat-tails.’ My faith is my Own, and I KNOW who has redeemed me.” In a journal entry in her diary that year, she tells God, “As You know, I have given You my life; I am no longer my own. Anything I have in this world is not mine.”
My God….Is a Faithful God! Passionate life can be dangerous. Once out in the world on her own, surrounded with “real life” on a college campus, Sin encroached on Becky’s life – insidiously, one small step, one unchecked decision at a time. Link upon link, chain upon chain it bound her passion for God, her stand for Truth. Shame replaced Security, Despair replaced Dependence, and before we knew it, our Becky had become a stranger – caught in a spreading web of the World of Darkness and all its lies and deceptions. She fled from the constraints of her Savior’s Life Rules and experienced the devastation of poor decisions, “me-centered” thinking and the misery of a life lived without the tender, guiding Hand of her Shepherd.
But…God never left her side. Quietly, forcefully He honored His promise to us, her parents, that He would never leave nor forsake her. Though Hell meant to destroy her, God restored Becky to us just after her 22nd birthday. The lamb had been brought back to the fold.
My God….is a Tender God! Every moment in life offers us a choice: it can be “all about” US – or it can be all about the reason we are placed here in the first place – to be servants of the Most High God, and a testimony to His Name. October 18, 2004 found me on the maternity floor of Grandview Hospital – praying and crying my way through the sounds of Becky’s delivery of her miracle child, Dami. Her cries of pain ripped and tore at my heart, yet the sound of his little cries sent my heart soaring in worship of my Loving Father. Life had come once again!
Still…Life, of necessity, must be salted with what we perceive as hardship, as trouble. Without this seasoning, we cannot be molded and shaped into as close an image of Jesus as He has deemed us to be. The day after Dami’s birth, Becky confessed to us that a year before, she had become addicted to heroin – had, in fact, used it the day of Dami’s birth and had gone into labor as a result of that use. The tenderness of God flooded my soul, and my only response was to hold her, to listen, to love, to pray.
My God….is a Healing God! As the days passed, she and I would sit by Dami’s hospital crib and talk. Becky poured her heart out to me – told me her life as it had been the past year, told me things no parent wants to hear, no parent could bear to know about or watch without their hearts failing within them. Each day, each conversation, the Lord met us – each day a little bit more of our Becky came back to us. Her love for Dami was fierce – she had a “mother bear” protectiveness for him, and vowed before us and her God that she would beat the poison in her life, the drug that wanted to consume her – for Dami’s sake.
Life was hard the next 5 months – sometimes impossibly so. The malicious call of the drug, the mindset of the drug culture, the feelings of worthlessness and shame ever threatened to destroy her, to tear her down. But, God walked before us, and gave us time after time to talk, and cry, and love. He gave me words of encouragement for her that buoyed up her spirit, gave her the strength to face the next decision, the next stress, the next mountain that demanded to be scaled. And, I saw Healing. And Blessing. And Hope.
My God is a God of Hope! Never think for a moment….. never deceive yourself for a breath that you will be able to dance and flirt with sin, without one day having it turn and ravage you. It is true that, in His grace, in His mercy, God forgives and receives us joyfully back to Himself the instant we reach out to Him. And, in His tenderness, He sometimes heals us of the grotesque deformity that sin wreaks on our hearts, our bodies, our souls. But…sometimes, in His Wisdom that surpasses all our attempts of understanding, He allows us to live under and suffer the consequences of our sin.
Becky’s last 24 hours began as a time of hope for us. She had passed through yet another fiery trial – another in a long, long string of suffering – and the sunshine was beginning to break through the clouds of her life again. She had started working again at the beginning of the week, had spent the day on Thursday loving and caring for Dami. That night, she asked if I would watch him while she attended an NA meeting. She left the house around 7:00 that night, picked up by a man I had met once, yet was uneasy about her being alone with. I cautioned her, questioned her about her safety, but with typical Becky bravado she assured me “she could handle him – he knows he’s not to think anything funny about me.”
I gave her my cell phone and told her that it would be good if she were home around 10:00, but that I would be concerned about her if she were still gone by 11:00.
The evening passed, as did the 10:00 hour. By 11:15 my “mother worry” had kicked in, and I asked Homer to give her a call. We laughed with relief when we found that she was fine, enjoying a glass of soda with some of her friends from the meeting, and time – which had never held much meaning for Becky! – had slipped away from her. “Daddy, I’m so sorry! I’ll leave in ten minutes…” she told Homer, and was home again shortly after.
Thursday was just another night, like so many before. Becky came in from her meeting all bright and bubbly, scooped Dami up out of my arms and went to bed. As far as we knew, the night passed uneventfully. But…then came the dawn.
And our World turned upside down…
My God is a God of Mercy! It was the morning of Good Friday. At 10:20, my Mother came into my room to call me. ( I have a variety of diseases that cause me to sleep…) We could hear Dami frantically crying, yet the door to Becky’s room was locked. Thinking she had slipped outside for a moment and the door had inadvertently locked behind her, Sara and I broke the door in – and found that, though her body lay doubled over on the bed…our Becky had left us. Though she had struggled to stay “clean” since the day of Dami’s birth, someone, somewhere the night before had – most likely thinking that he was doing her a “favor” – provided her with the demon drug that had enslaved her for so long.
She once told me that she could be strong and resist, as long as there was someone by her side in the bad times, in the times when Hell itself raged through her body with desire for it. I had walked her through one on those times: when she was done pacing, and sweating, and crying out in mental anguish, and finally found rest from the desire, all I could do was slip away to my room and shed bitter sobs for her agony. This night, with temptation in her hand, and in despair over the turn her life had recently taken, she failed the test. This night, she had tried yet one more time to find relief from her pain, never knowing, never expecting that this was the day God had decreed, before she was even born, to take her HOME.
So…where is the Mercy, you ask? Listen to what the Lord revealed to me: Two days ago, it was Easter Sunday – a day of rejoicing, of worship, of awe for what our Saviour has done for us. On this day, in His mercy, He gave me this word: The moment the needle entered Becky’s arm on Friday morning, Jesus met her there. All of the teaching, all of the hope, all of the lessons He had guided her through in her walk with Him were revealed again to her in a moment. She repented – and was healed of her pain, and welcomed into her Saviour’s arms with full assurance of forgiveness. For the first time in her life, SHE KNEW, without a shadow of a doubt, God’s unfathomable Love for her, His abounding Joy IN her. And then…He took her with Him.
Of all the things my God is to me, it is His Kindness that consistently, miraculously overwhelms me. Listen again to how His kindness was poured out on me: Even though my sweet daughter’s body lay somewhere being prepared for her burial, and our grief was almost more than we could bear, on Easter Sunday we were compelled to attend our church and worship, to be surrounded by those who love us and support us. During the worship, grief overwhelmed me yet again, and I closed my eyes and cried out to God for His touch. And, in His kindness, He did what only He could do to heal my pain: He brought my Becky to me.
Through my spiritual eyes, through the eyes that only God can open, and only at the times He chooses, Jesus pulled aside the veil and I “saw” my Becky dancing with delight before her Lord at the front of the church, worshipping and singing along with the congregation. Her hair was a golden red, with gentle, curly tendrils around her face. There was Peace and Joy in her face. She came to me, and told me, “I love you, Mommy. I’m so sorry.” With tears in our eyes, we smiled, and I told her of my never-ending love for her, and assured her that we would take good care of her Dami. And then…Jesus gently took her by the hands, and led her Home.
Lest you think that this “sight” was the product of an overwrought imagination; lest you doubt that God is real, and has the power to move between the world of sight and the world of the spirit; listen yet again: As I watched them go, I turned to Bonnie, my dearest sister in the Lord who stood beside me, and in awe I said to her, “The Lord just brought Becky to me!” She smiled even before the words were out of my mouth, and then said, “I know. I saw her, too.”
My God is so many things – all of them wonderful! I know without a shadow of a doubt where my Becky is, what streets she dances now. My grief will go on – I know this. But someday, I too will live the last day that God has measured out for my life, and I will go to join her dance. My prayer, my plea for you is that the hope that dwells in the depths of my heart, dwells also in yours. If, perhaps, it doesn’t, please. Take this story of a young woman’s life to heart, and seek earnestly until you, too, have found the God Whom she now walks beside.
Carol Jennings, written and delivered as her eulogy to a gathering of over 500 people at her funeral – a miracle in itself… March 29, 2005