One year has elapsed since we received the phone call telling us that Josh had fallen into the river. At this time, one year ago, my brother went home to be with his Lord.
This year has been one of both immense blessing and incredible pain. But most of all, it has been a year of grace. God has broken me down, and built me up. I have walked through deep darkness, but God has always been there with me. I am a different person than I was last year, and it is because of my brother and my God.
Josh was a godly man. Imperfect, but godly. He wanted to live for Christ, for his life to count for something. Through his death, Josh did just that. God used Josh and his passion to touch the world. To touch me.
One of the first thoughts I had after Josh’s death was, Wow. Josh is perfect. He is spotless, and worshiping before the throne of God. Just the thought of Josh, free from the shackles of sin, filled me with joy.
This year finds me a new creation. God has found me, captured my heart, and made me one of His children. I want to give Him my life in return. I want to show the world the goodness and grace of God.
I miss my brother. There are days when I think, Lord, I don’t want to live today. But I press on, because I have hope. I know that my Savior will carry me through the hard times, hold me while I cry, and one day, He will take me to heaven, where I will be with Josh again. And together, we will worship God for eternity.
So for now, I will live. I will live the life that God has given me, because it’s the only one I have. And I will strive with all that I am to be like Christ.
Thank you, Josh, for being such an encouragement and example. I love you like crazy, and I can't wait to see you again.
I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
The following is something that I wrote three weeks after Josh’s death. I think it outlines pretty well what the last year has been like.
What can I say?
I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I’ve never felt pain like this, known fear like this, never felt so…empty.
Empty. Like the joy of life was drained from my heart, ripped from my arms in the span of a moment. It was then that time stood still… I held my breath, hoping beyond hope, praying, begging, pleading that this was all a dream. A horrible dream that I would soon wake from and only keep as a memory.
But I have yet to waken.
Yet to waken from this terrifying nightmare. Yet to waken and embrace the reality that I knew. Knew, not know. I’m not sure what I know anymore.
How can one moment change your entire life? One second, one breath, one word? It hits you in the chest and knocks the air out of you. And when that moment passes, you somehow know that life will never be the same.
As the moment slips into another, you regain your breath, but the ache is still there. Each breath you draw takes effort, and you find no satisfaction in it. Everything has suddenly become pale – life and nature has lost its vibrancy.
Reality gentle nudges me, but I push her aside. No. This cannot be real. He cannot be gone. My heart refuses to accept the inevitable. Persistence speaks to me, telling me to keep searching, that he must be out there somewhere, that I must keep up hope. I turn to Hope, but find her withered and dying, naught but the tiniest spark remaining in her.
Acceptance preys upon my mind, squelching Hope. His cold, bitter words sting me, but I allow him to inflict them freely. I must…submit. I must make myself believe this terrible truth. Like a whip applied to my heart, his words strike again and again.
You’re brother’s gone.
He is dead.
He has drowned.
You will never see him again.
He is dead.
The words break my spirit and crush me. I collapse on the ground, my hands clutching my head. Sobs begin to wrack my body as indescribable pain presses itself on me. Tears pour from my eyes and form a puddle on the floor. I am broken.
Behind the screams of Acceptance, I hear gentler voices speaking. As I lay on the ground, bruised and beaten, I listen to them. After several moments, I recognize them as Comfort and Peace – two voices I used to know well. Their gentle, soothing voices silence Acceptance and quiet my sobs.
Your brother is not dead, says Comfort. He now lives.
Yes, agrees Peace. Do not be afraid, Beloved.
He lives with his Creator, Comfort says.
And no longer suffers from pain, adds Peace.
Comfort begins to take hold of my heart. He shall be eternally happy.
Peace puts her arm around my shoulder. And you shall be with him someday.
The sound of my gasping breathing is the only sound that breaks the following silence. I allow their words to sink in, like a soothing balm to my burning wounds. I flinch, but don’t pull away.
My mind is slowly beginning to accept the fact that my brother is gone, but my heart is still resistant. It cannot comprehend living without him. I still ache; my whole body feels weak and deflated. I hug my knees to myself and close my eyes. If only I could leave…if only I could outrun Pain, outsmart Reality, outbid death. A low moan escapes my lips. How does one find the strength to live again?
God is good.
Rejoicing’s voice is glowing, joyous. I can see the pain she feels for me in her eyes, but that cannot keep her silent.
God is good! She cries again. And He is worthy of praise!
I shift, putting my knees underneath me. I raise my weak arms into the air above my head in an act of total submission. I lift my face upward, and feel the warmth of Him on me.
“God…is…good!” I cry. My voice is shaky with tears. “God, You are so good!” Sobs again shake my frame, but I keep my hands in the air. “Lord, I give You praise. I give You glory!”
Light pours through the darkness in my mind. The grief is still there, yes, but now there is Light. As I fall to the ground, I hear another voice speaking to me.
It is Him.
I love you, Mariah Elizabeth. And I love your Brother. He is here, with Me, and so happy. Joy radiates from every feature of his being, and wears a perpetual smile. He is beautiful – so beautiful. Every aspect of his nature is perfect, without blemish or defect. This is how I made him to be – and you as well. This is how all My children will be, but you must wait. You must wait for the right time.
Do not lose heart, dear one. When you are weak, I will give you Strength. When you are lonely, I will give you Comfort. When you are afraid, I will give you Peace. When you are broken, I will build you up. When you are hurt, I will carry you in My arms.
So trust Me.
What can I say?
I give it all to You, Lord. I place my heart in Your hands – do with it as You desire. You were my brother’s passion, his one desire. Be mine as well.
I love you, Lord Jesus.