Thursday, April 16, 2015

His Absence Changes Everything

This past Friday I was filling out a form that required me to write down the day’s date. 

The date was April 10th, and as is always the case, seeing that date sent a flood of memories surging through my mind.  I shared the following statement on my Facebook page not long after having traveled back through the corridor of time:

“April 10, 1985 ... 30 years ago.

On that date, I was a sophomore in high school - one who'd grown deeply weary of living.  It was a bright and sunny Wednesday outside, but in my heart and head all was bleak and black.
I skipped school that day, after having purchased a bottle full of pills - pills that I thought might finally lead me to a place of peace and rest, for in my life I knew no peace and rest. 
I was a weary young woman who had no hope and I was on the verge of my first true consideration of and attempt at suicide. 
I battled against that bottle for hours, finally flinging it aside - not from a place of faith that things would get better in life, but from one of fear that I might fail in my attempt and find myself in even worse straits than the current moment contained.
While my reason for remaining wasn't the best (and wouldn't truly be resolved until years later when once again I sat in a suicidal state and was met by the saving mercy of Christ), I am thankful for the fear that foiled my foolishness.
Today, 30 years later,  I'm thankful for April 10, 2015 - thankful that I'm even here to write this post, thankful for all the other manifold moments of mercy that have met me, and thankful for the sovereign grace of God that has kept me. HE is why I am here."

The comments on my page resounded with cries of thanksgiving, gladness, joy, and praise. 

The post was seen as good news in the face of what could have been the most macabre of moments.
The next evening, while scanning my Facebook news feed, I ran across a post from an old high school friend.  I was surprised to see that it was a “cut and paste” version of the quote above. 

What had been “cut” was any record of my Redeemer.  

Here’s how it read:
“Anonymous pal:  ‘April 10, 1985… I was a sophomore in high school who’d grown deeply weary of living.  It was a bright and sunny Wednesday outside, but in my heart and head all was bleak and black.  I skipped school that day, after having purchased a bottle full of pills - pills that I thought might finally lead me to a place of peace and rest.  I was a weary young woman who had no hope and I was on the verge of my first true consideration of and attempt at suicide. I battled against that bottle for hours – finally flinging it aside from fear. My reasoning wasn’t the best and years later I sat again in a suicidal state.” 
Several people commented on his post. 
“How tragic.” 
“How sad.” 
“How awful.”
And I thought – “How correct … 
          ... at least as the story is presented.”
I stared at those words as he had shared them – 
     empty words, 
          hopeless words, 
               words void of the Hero who helped me, 
                    words without even an inkling of gospel grace.
As I stared at that oddly abridged version I was stunned at what was missing in the message, and at the difference made by its vacancy.
My story with Jesus Christ removed is indeed "tragic," and "sad," and "awful,"  and completely different than it now in fact is!
The life changing presence of Jesus Christ is that which was and still is behind who I am, and is behind the very fact that I am.  

That "partial" post reminded me that His absence changes everything.  

But, so does His presence.  
His presence also changes everything -  in a radically redemptive way.
Because of His presence, April 10, 1985 is the date that is not etched on my tombstone. 

Somehow the Savior, who at that time was unknown to me (and utterly despised by me), providentially stepped in and stayed my self sought execution.  I know not why, but I laud His glorious grace and sovereign mercy in sparing me my life.  
Because of His continually pursuing presence, three years later, August 18, 1988 would become the date that is eternally etched beside my name in the Lamb's Book of Life. On that date God opened my blind eyes to finally see that which had been invisibly before them every step of the way - Himself, through His Son - the gentle Shepherd who had been guiding and guarding me through every inch of the valley of the shadow of death wherein I once wandered.  
Jesus had been my unseen temporal Savior for decades 
  • intervening in the abortion that almost ended my existence
  • keeping me amidst the hardships of home
  • sustaining me in the face of autism’s angst – even prior to having that label unloaded.
That August day, as I sought to end my life yet again, He chose to give me life - real life, abundant life - through His life.  That day He revealed Himself as my eternal Savior, Substitute, and Surety: 
  • the sinless Savior who entered into time and space, living the life I couldn’t live, the life that a holy God justly requires of His creation;  
  • the sacrificing Substitute who died the sinner’s death I deserved as the wage for my unending acts of divine treason against my Maker;  
  • the successful and sufficient Surety who left an empty tomb and ascended to a heavenly home - proof that the price for my redemption had been paid in full by His love and labor.
Things have never been the same since that day, and I must admit, as I ponder these things it is crystal clear to me that His absence changes everything - everything - in my story. You see:
  • without Him I am no longer here - I am dead by my own hand;
  • apart from Him I have no song worth singing - it is His mercy that makes my melodies; 
  • sans His forgiveness of me I cannot find a way (nor a real reason) to truly forgive those who have heaped such horrendous hurt upon me;
  • deprived of His presence and promise - which carry me through the chaos of my menacing autistic malady - the nightmare of my neurology would utterly undo me and we'd be back at the attempted actions of April 10, 1985, but with far different results.
Friend, I understand that you may not care for this One who means everything to me.  I recognize that you may currently be in that place where I once was – hating the very thought of Him, viewing His story as a foolish fairy-tale, despising those who claim His name and blaming them for your unbelief because …well, sadly because far too often they (we/me) act like bigoted jerks – rude, obnoxious, unloving, unholy, hypocritical. How poorly we often represent Him. (I'm sorry.) 
But, regardless of anyone's lack of care for Christ and disgust towards Christians, my story remains the same. In spite of any argument you can offer, this is my story and this is my song and this is where I stand – with Jesus, on Jesus, in Jesus.  

Remove Him from my story and you’ve made that which is marvelous an absolute mess.
Seeing my friend's cut and paste post without my Savior’s presence was striking to me. How thankful I am that although men may seek (even unwittingly) to re-write my story and to erase that which is its central theme, the truth is that my story is written in indelible ink, with immutable grace, and by an imperishable covenant ratified by an infinite God.
Nothing and no one can sever or separate me from the love and the life that is mine in Christ Jesus – nor can they sever or separate you if you come to Him in repentance of your sin and by faith in His finished work on your behalf. (Romans 8:1-39.)
What I've found to be true in my life is that His absence changes everything - in the worst of ways.  

What I am equally assured of through His Word and in the Ebennezers of my own experience is that His presence not only transforms everything for the better, but actually is everything -  it is true life, true light, and true love. 

That He is, is why I am

To live is Christ and because of Him one day, when my dying finally does come (by His hand and not my own) it will be my greatest gain. 

How thankful I am - thankful that though someone may be able to remove my Redeemer's name from the written record of a Facebook post, none can remove my Redeemer's propitiating presence from my life. 

Soli Deo Gloria!


  1. Amen and amen! I love what you write and who you write about. - Amanda

  2. I am always in awe at hearing the journey of others. I love knowing that our loving Heavenly Father loves us so much that He does what we can't in helping us see He is Who He says He is. I am so thankful that you could see that even in the midst of pain, God's grace was there for you and all of us. We all have our stories of times that took the breath right out of us but God was there and is always sufficient for our needs. PTL He doesn't give up! You are a gift. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Lori, you have an amazing testimony of God's love and goodness. Thank you so much for sharing it with the world!! You show people true Christianity and how Jesus can transform our lives. Just simply amazing and so beautiful!!!! May God continue to bless you and your family!

  4. I really needed this. Thank you Lori.

  5. This really comforted me this morning. You always write so beautifully about Jesus. Thank you.

  6. Real Christians don't kill themselves and don't even think about it.