Less than 24 hours after I last posted about Jesse’s surgery, and we are HOME! Home, y’all. It’s remarkable to me that a person can have brain surgery one day, and sleep in his own bed the day after. It’s overwhelming to see my husband walk through our door and into our home, a moment I have wondered for many of the past few weeks whether or not I would have. As Jesse stepped over the threshold today, I felt the weight of the waiting we’ve done and will continue to do for much of our lives, and the depths of the longing, the hoping, the aching for Jesse’s healing and for our eternal healing that comes at our earthly death or the arrival of our Always-Soon-Coming King. I felt the magnitude of the gift it is to simply come home, understanding fully what a treasure our time together as a family is now. And then I remembered what day it is. Veteran’s Day. On a day when we honor and thank those who fight to keep us free, willingly suffering separation from their loved ones and sacrificing of themselves to preserve our very lives, I saw my husband come safely home once more. It seems so backward. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about this, of course, but my life in recent weeks has made an experience I wrote about many years ago seem richer and deeper and more real somehow. I thought, on this day, perhaps some of you might need to read that you are seen and known and loved by a God who waits for you, arms spread wide, to come home to Him.
“I watched a video of soldiers coming home to their loved ones a few nights ago. They came home to spouses, children, parents, family, friends, and the response was always the same. Open arms and tears of absolute, undistracted joy at the sight of someone they have often had to wonder if they would ever see again. I drifted into the dreaminess of my thoughts, pondering what it must be like to long for the mere sight of someone for so long. To yearn for the touch of their hand. To ache for the sound of their voice.
And then I did what I often do. I began to think about My Jesus. How He, the Most Holy, Gracious, and Loving Savior, has so often waited…for me. He waits while I struggle and fight and grasp for this temporary life. He waits for me, arms wide open, reaching out, waiting to catch me as I leap into His arms, waiting to rescue me from my despair and give me immeasurable, unfathomable joy.
Greater…His joy is greater than what we feel when we welcome someone long missed home. Our joy in those moments is just a glimpse of that which God has when we come through His door with arms outstretched. How He must grieve when we tarry in coming to Him. And Oh, how He must rejoice when we arrive!
Like a child long separated from my daddy who has been off fighting battles and winning wars for my freedom, I run to the open arms of my Jesus Who stands waiting; once wounded, now victorious! With reckless abandon, unashamed tears, and arms wide open I come. Do you, friends?
For those of you who may be reading this who live in the reality of never embracing your soldiers again, I pray God gives you the strength to carry on and the peace to withstand the loneliness of this temporary life. The word of God says there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. The sacrifice of your beloved person and the sacrifice of the life and relationship you had with them is a beautiful and bold reflection of the sacrifice made for us all by Jesus. Just as you have suffered and lost, your own Creator suffered and lost His son on your behalf. The captivity of Jesus Christ to death for a moment gives us the freedom to live in community with Him from everlasting to everlasting. And that means we will also live in community with those who have gone before us to embrace King Jesus. The reunions we will have with our loved ones will be sweet and joyous indeed!”
May God bless all you veterans for the sacrifices you make each day for people you have never met, and sustain you in the weary moments. We are grateful for you and yours.
Ashley, you truly are a very talented writer and your ability to express your love for Christ and your husbandf are remarkable. So happy your Jessie is on the road to recovery and wish you and yours a Very Happy Holiday Season.
In Christian Love, Frances White, University Friend of Robin Istre and Vivian Kirby