Feb 6th, 2013

A distant shore

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Her pink bike is in the garage with her helmet hung by its strap from one of the handlebars. It has white-walled tires. Just like mine. Every time I walk by it I take a deep breath in and let it out slowly as I think about how spring will come and the snow will melt and we will go on family bike rides in the evenings, but her bike will stay parked in that spot. Her helmet will stay there too, dangling from the handlebars. Lenya will not ride that bike again. Eventually Daisy will use it and then Clover, but not Lenya. Not ever.

She isn’t going to play with her toys anymore. Neither will she wear any of her dresses or other clothes that are hanging in her closet and folded in her drawers. She used to transform all the pieces from this wardrobe into three or four wild and wonderful outfits, and as many messy piles on the floor by lunchtime each day. Her room is far too clean and tidy now. Everything stays as we put it. Her Jesus jar is empty because she brought her tithe to church the weekend before she left us, but the money she saved up in her “spend” jar will not be spent by her.

I know this all to be true because my daughter has gone to heaven. She is on a distant shore. Though we can’t see her she is near. Heaven can’t be that far away because when you leave this earth you are able to be instantly with the Lord. At most it is a day’s journey away because Jesus promised the thief on the cross that, “today you will be with Me in paradise,” and when He said that they had already been on the cross for hours. Maybe it’s extremely close, just unseen to us presently. Doesn’t that seem to be how Stephen makes it sound, in the book of Acts, when, in his final moments, he gave us a description of of glory that seemed to appear before his eyes right before he died? I wonder, and long to find out. Perhaps if we knew how close Heaven was we would be more motivated by it and live to fill it more ardently than we do.

In Lenya’s final moments on earth her mother’s voice was in her ears and she was held by her father’s hands. Those were frantic, desperate and frightening minutes to us as we sought to keep her here through CPR. God chose instead to bring her to His country. A place without sin or pain or fear. No, she can’t ride her pink bike on the cracked pavement of this tired world any longer, but I don’t suspect that brings her much concern as she swims with dolphins or rides down the beach on a horse with a tropical wind whipping her hair up behind her. Or maybe it’s a unicorn. If she has the option I guarantee you she is picking the unicorn.

It is true that Lenya died. It is also true that she is more alive today than she has ever been. More alive than me. I take great joy in thinking about the fact that she is in a place without death. We had to attend her funeral but she did not. She never attended one in her life and she never will. She is in the land of the living.

What anchors us in this storm of our separation from her is the promise that she is with Him and He is in us. The more we are filled with His Spirit the greater our connection to her grows. I would lose heart if I did not believe that I will see the Lord. But I do. Someday soon my ship will set sail for the distant shores of that perfect place, where Lenya lives and laughs and plays, and I will finally be Home.

Posted in heaven, Lenya Lion, raw thoughts

comments

  1. Mary Lawrence Says:

    Thank you. And….I am sorry for your pain….but thankful that God’s greatest gifts…..often don’t look like gifts. Thank you for hearing God’s voice and for reflecting his heart.

  2. Susie Trefney Says:

    Sharing your loss has given me a perspective of death that I have never had. I know these things on an intellectual level but watching you go through this truly shows what being alive is all about. And it isn’t about being here! I hope and pray that being able to process though this with blogging and sharing has been healing. God Bless.

  3. Sherri Hawkins Says:

    Dear Ones. You don’t know us, but we pray for you daily and love you from afar. Years ago, I received a vision from the Lord when my family was told that our young mother had terminal cancer. Brokenhearted, He gave me a vision of my mother lying in a hospital bed breathing her final breath. But at that very moment, I saw Him lean over her and breath heavenly breath into her. I knew that she would be with Him instantly because of this vision. When the time came and my mother passed from this life to her new life, everything looked the same in her hospital room. She smiled three times before her final breath left her. I knew in my heart that she was seeing someone we here on earth couldn’t see. She has been with her Heavenly Father 20 years now, and I know that we will see her again!

  4. Carol Says:

    As I read each these posts I cannot help but be struck by the shear eloquence of your words through tears and emotions that remain so raw. Even though these words come from a place of gut wrenching pain they are riddled with hope and promise – you have no idea the number of souls you will help through the very same trial that you are experiencing – what a priceless gift it is that Lenya’s new life is spoken through you to the hurting ones. What a blessing that her love of Jesus now echoes through your voice.

  5. Dawn Henderson Says:

    Levi, your words inspire my soul. I iost my husband just over a year ago to brain cancer. I too hold on to the promise that he will be waiting for me on that same distant shore. Today your words were meant for my uplifting as I have been very sick and my body and spirit were weak. Grief is a journey and we are very blessed to walk that journey with our Father by our side. Thank you for blessing me tonight. My prayers are with u and your beautiful family.

  6. Bailey Family Says:

    Your posts always inspire me and I often wonder if I would have the same faith and strength that you and Jenny have. God only knows that answer . Thank you for sharing your most precious thoughts with us….it does not go unnoticed. Blessings upon you andyour family.

  7. Rachel Says:

    Beautiful; your words, your amazing daughter, your courageous faith, your loving family. Thank you for inspiring us to run with horses.

  8. Chad Arterbury Says:

    I think i speak for most of us when i say reading your posts makes me want to give you and jenny big hug. We are so there for you. We got your back brother.

  9. Kristina Meccia Says:

    You have such a gift with words, Levi…my daughter, who is 6, & you’ve met at Freshlife, wants to know if you saw angels when they came to get Lenya. I told her I would ask…so honored to call you our pastor…the light of the Lord shines so brightly through you & Jenny. Thank you for the endless inspiration that inspires heartfelt prayer. How hard it is to send an angel back to heaven….

  10. Kristina Meccia Says:

    As soon as I hit submit I caught my mistake…Jennie!

  11. Pearl Says:

    My brother, my father, my step father and my dearest friend have all made that journey from hear to heaven and each passing has been raw with agony, yet peaceful with hope. I feel the pain in your writing and I know the hurt. I also have experienced the unshakable peace that God gives even while our hearts are wrenched. I think about sin and how God’s plan for us never included the pain of death. Oh what a God we have to send his Son, to die, so ultimately, we don’t have to.
    Prayers for your family, may you smile through the tears. Your precious one will never be forgotten.

  12. jonahjolie Says:

    We all will be home soon…soon and very soon, we are going to see the KING!!! A cloud of wittnesses watch us here on earth…so let us run the race to win!!! Jesus has the victory over death…Your so right, Leyna is more alive than any of us can even imagine…because no eye has seen, no ear has heard…we can even begin to imagine what Heaven is…not even can our mind comprehend!!! All too glorius for me, bro…but so wonderful for those who have gone ahead!!!

  13. Monica and Jeff Tomchek Says:

    That is a glorious picture of your precious child on the seashore! Your thoughts shared bless us more than you could know! It allows me to come to know Lenya! She was special! And you see we moms… well we worry about you and your family.. It causes us to pray for you! Thank you for reassuring me that you, while suffering and grieving….know that it is the Lord you must run too through such hard times! That you are taking your family to the criss as well as the church Gid put and placed you over! You are teaching us how to work through it too! You and the Lauries! We are grateful and blessed for your realness!!! Love and blessings!!!! The Tomcheks! From Harvest! <3

  14. Deborah Arterbury Menendez Says:

    I don’t know you but have found out about Lenya on Facebook through my nephew. Your words about Lenya are so inspiring and while I am so sorry about your loss, you are so right knowing you will see Lenya again. About 10 years ago my heart stopped and I saw my mother and father. They were young, beautiful and so vibrant. There was grace in their faces, no stress what so ever…just like a baby’s face. And the colors were indescribable. They so repeatedly and ever so gently told me I had to go back. A week later my heart stopped again while in the hospital for almost 5 minutes and my spirit left my body to only enter it again. Wasn’t my time. I do chuckle sometimes because it took me several years to figure out the only reason my father looked different was because he had a full head of blond hair. By the time I was born he was balding and I never knew him to have much hair on top. In heaven he has his full head of hair. Thank you for your inspiration. My prayers to you and your precioius family.

  15. Kristin Taylor Says:

    So encouraged and wanting more and more of the Jesus that you serve. I can’t imagine the added stress of grieving so publicly. We are all so encouraged by not only your strength, but your rock solid focus on continuing to bring God glory and making Jesus famous! We love the Jesus that we see in your family! Praying for you…especially during the night when I wake up for no good reason, other than to pray for you guys!!!! #runningwithhorses #somebodycuethateagle

  16. Deborah Noriega Says:

    I sit here after reading this, and I have to say after 20 years of missing my son Chris, and two years of missing my husband, and many years of missing most of my family, I have not ever quite heard anyone describe our home like you just did. Most of my family is there.I know our trials produce gold in our lives refined through fire, and I see this in you Levi, I also see where you are ministering to alot of folks that have loved and lost, I thank Jesus that he makes all things happen for the good! I hope to meet you at the pastors conference. I am praying fervently for you and your family. Peace be to you.

  17. I wonder if Levi knows Britt Merrick, the young pastor in CA whose daughter Daisy is battling late-stage cancer? These two men seem to be cut out of the same cloth…

  18. Jamie Says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your precious, precious daughter. She is so beautiful. I lost my beloved father unexpectedly last August. It has been so very painful but God has been so faithful through it all. I’ve said several times that if losing a parent hurts this bad I can’t even imagine how much it hurts to lose a spouse or a child. My heart is broken for you but hopeful too. Because I know that God is so faithful. He is the God Who rescues and redeems. He makes everything beautiful. And heaven seems so much closer now that I’ve lost my dad. I am praying for your precious family. Your words have brought me so much comfort. Thank you!

  19. so powerful! i cannot even imagine! i ache for your family, but appreciate your honest and faithful response. what a powerful encouragement!

  20. I’m uber encouraged by your continuous battle for faith. Praying for your family, always! love from Philly! The glory of His name knows no distance..

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