Friday, January 18, 2013

A Word Sustains the Weary When Your Brother Dies and Seven Years After -the Word Sustains the Weary Again

Though it was his birthday yesterday and he would have been 34 years old, I didn't set out to write about him today. It just happened because of the way the Lord upheld me through the loss of my brother...and how the same passage of scripture God gave me that week has been sustaining me through the (thankfully very different) journey we have been on recently. So tomorrow I will post more about that. 

When my brother Peter died in a farming accident in February of '06 it was the coldest stretch of weather we had endured that winter- I think it was 16 below zero. He had been bundled up warm with his headphones on to do what farmers do. Drive a tractor in circles or stripes covering the land in order to reap the harvest. They usually don't do much harvesting in February, but with the determination of a farmer, he went out that brutal day to pick corn. It happened while trying to remove a clog from the corn-picker. My brother-in-law lives within eyesight of where he was working and after dark, noticed the lights on the machine- that it was stalled in one place for too long, so he went to see what was going on. ...The sleeve of Peter's coat was caught in the corn-husk separator part of the machine. Since sturdy-made Carhart coats do not rip, he was strangled.

I got the call from my youngest sister Stephanie while I was at Worship Team practice at church that evening. What does one do when they get a call telling you your brother is dead? Stand in a daze. Try to breathe. Decide what to do. Who to take with you to drive the hour over to where your family will be gathered. That is what I did after announcing it to the five other musicians and singers. 

A year later, I was on my way to Worship Team practice recounting the story of that week to a friend (not realizing it was the anniversary of his death at the moment) when it occurred to me what a gift I had been given that night. That because the team surrounded me in prayer before I left, I had a certain grace for the days ahead. 

Because of needing an autopsy on his body, the week of his death was long. My two kids were in school. Having an hour between my home and our home farm, I daily faced many questions regarding what to do, where to go and when, and if I should take the kids with me or not. While my mind was torn, my heart was shredded. I needed something sturdy to lean on. SomeOne to tell me what to do.

I was reading through the One Year Bible and on the second day of my questions, I encountered this passage and knew it was God's word to me for that day. 

  The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives. ~Psalm 37:23 NLT

I immediately memorized it and drew from it's nourishing comfort that week. That day as I was meditating on that passage while making the drive over, an eagle flew overhead, and Isaiah 40:31 came to mind, and God was saying, "I am here with you and I will direct your steps and I will carry you."

Whenever I didn't know what to do, I remembered He was directing my steps. That He had the details. I wish I could say the week is a blur after seven years as so many other things are, but they are quite clear. Whenever I remember, its as raw as that week. My memories are vivid. But what I remember most is the grace with which I was carried through the painful things, and the comfort that sustained me in the weariness and haze of the days and the screaming-in-my-pillow nights. 

I remember with fresh tears today. I remember him as a little curly-headed blonde boy...and a tween asking me to buzz off his hair and I could never do it, but he did when he got old enough. I remember our last phone conversations and his sharing the dream to make wine, to have a winery on our home farm. The one with the creek meandering through...and he planted currants to start. I remember his smile, his my dad's. And him with his tongue sticking out in so many pictures-playful. (again like Dad) I'm grateful for the years we had. Thankful for each day since and the grace of all the joy I'm given. Life. Blessings. Jesus. The Word that sustained my weary shredded heart.

As Psalm 37:23 is upholding me for a different season but ties me to that week of when the Lord was faithful to direct my steps and care for the details of my promised, I praise. Praise God who is faithful and true to His promises!

If you find yourself in need of something sturdy to lean on, you will find what you need in your Bible. Ask God for the promise you need and He will be faithful to direct your steps.

The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Isaiah 50:4


Tammi said...

Dear Kathy, I had no idea about your dear brother. I am so sorry. I needed the scripture you shared tonight, and will put it to memory right away! Thank you. I too lost my 22 yr old sister (15 yrs ago) and it was suddenly, shocking. . .I understand the shock that you spoke about here. The verse the Lord gave me was Psalm 34:18. . the Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. I remember thinking I could never play the piano again, because I couldn't play from a heart that was broken...yet, I see how He has healed my heart, and brought the music back only stronger--to share for His glory! If you get a chance, google my YouTube channel, Serenaded by Angels. I couldn't hear that song or even THINK about playing it for years after Sherri passed away, yet on the 15th anniversary (last yr) God gave me the arrangement and ability to record it and put a video together. It's a testimony of how God healed my broken heart, and honors His Word above His name.
Big hugs! Thinking of you and thankful for you too.

Brandee Shafer said...

I am so sorry for your pain. (I can't imagine.) And so glad for your relationship with the Great Comforter.