“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” ~Romans 14:7,8
I’ve been waiting for this day for a few months now. Looking back over the last year of our life, I see so clearly how God was at work, not just in big ways but also in little ways, writing not just the big events, but also directing the small scenes of our family’s life. Each scene can seem disconnected from the big picture, and in a very real sense it’s only natural to feel that way.
The last year of Chris’s life there were many times I asked God, “What are You doing, Father? I want to understand Your ways; I need to feel Your nearness: I need Your grace to take another step.” When Chris would have another fall and be rushed off to the ER, or when he went in for a Prednisone treatment to try and stop the progression of the MS and it would backfire and his body would start to shut down as he came off the meds, I would cry out to God for help.
I didn’t know how to “fix” anything, even though I desperately wanted to. Yet in spite of these scary and painful unknowns in our life together, God was kind and showed us His mercy and grace. Several times before Chris passed away, in response to my calling on God again and again for His help, He would speak to my heart just two words, “Trust Me.” Only two words, but it was enough.
In every big and little moment of our lives God was exhibiting very personal and intimate care. Even though our circumstances didn’t change and each day was filled with opportunities to trust God when the day’s events would tempt us to panic or despair, God was doing all things well. And in the midst of so many unknowns God was still writing our story. And in the case of our youngest son, John, He was writing a special story of his own.
HERO: A STORY WITHIN A STORY
“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou has done, and Thy thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with Thee; if I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.” ~Psalm 40:5
Last summer John had an opportunity to audition for a small part in his first role in an independent Christian film, HERO (www.HeroFamilyMovie.com), by Advent Film Group. I’d been following and praying for AFG’s work since they produced their first full-length feature film, COME WHAT MAY, distributed on DVD in March of 2009. When John found out HERO was going to be a father/son story of reconciliation and healing surrounding a boys’ baseball team, he wanted to get involved.
Last summer, after being informed following John’s audition that AFG indeed wanted him to be a featured extra in HERO, Chris and I both prayerfully agreed that God wanted John to play the part of Grayson and have this experience working in an independent Christian film. The filming took place in September of last year during the same timeframe the rest of our family attended a national homeschool leadership conference in Colorado Springs. This meant John couldn’t be with us, but even still, we both felt it was the right step to take. John himself was okay with the idea of missing the national conference to be in the film; he only wished he could see a few really good friends who would be there.
Well, September came and I took John to North Carolina to start filming. I decided to stay a few days and make sure he was settled and felt connected to everyone there, which he immediately did! When it came time for me to go home and get ready to leave for our national conference the next day, John had no trouble saying good-bye. “See ya, Mom!” as he gave me a big hug and a kiss.
Those of you who have been following this Caring Bridge site may already be aware that I had to fly John out to CO Springs, leaving the HERO set three days early, so he could be with his dad the last two weeks of his life. My heart was anxious for John to be with his daddy, but felt badly that he had to be pulled off the set. God worked everything out with the film, however, and made it possible for him to be with his daddy and not disrupt the filming. Again, God does all things well!
SPRING IN OUR HEARTS AND NEW STORIES GOD IS WRITING
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High; to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night.” ~Psalm 92:1,2
After Chris died, John and I had a lot of time to talk about the end of his dad’s life. We talked about the particulars and timing of Chris’s death and how God’s hand was mercifully and lovingly superintending all the details. John, as well as all of our children had a great peace about the circumstances of Chris’s homecoming. Not one of the children, as we look back over those last days with our beloved father and husband, would ever want Chris to be back with us because they all know he is experiencing the greatest joy and peace and completeness in heaven with Jesus that we could ever know!
And as one day has rolled into another this year, I can see that God has been giving us so much grace, amidst the pain of loss and the many, many ways we miss Chris, to find glimpses of hope for our new life together. He has surprised us with moments of joy and laughter, like the little fresh shoots of flowers that popped up all around in our yard this spring. I praise Him for His lovingkindness that has enabled us to grieve freely and still have joy.
FOR THE GLORY…OF OUR GREAT GOD
“How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings…for with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we see light.” ~Psalm 36:7,9a
In January of this year, God started writing another story in our lives, and particularly in John’s life. When he had finished working on the set of HERO, John expressed a desire to continue acting. He wanted to work for more independent Christian films, so we prayed together and committed his heart’s desire to the Lord. (www.JohnKlicka.com)
Then in January of this year, we got an email from our family life pastor, Tito Mercado, who shared the news of an upcoming audition for a new independent Christian film, FOR THE GLORY (www.FortheGlorytheMovie.com), based on the true story of Kurt Kuykendall, a young man whose dream of becoming part of the US Olympic team is nearly shattered by his broken family life. The casting included the role of young Kurt.
John and I prayed independently about his auditioning for the film. He was thankful just to have the opportunity to do so even if it meant he didn’t get a part. After the audition, John expressed his concern that he didn’t do very well, but also said that if God didn’t want him to get the part of young Kurt it was okay. He just wanted what God wanted for him. Even before we found out about his audition, I was so blessed to see John’s tender heart of trust in the Lord and peaceful acceptance of His sovereign will.
ANOTHER STORY WITHIN A STORY
“O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days Thou hast afflicted us and the years we have seen evil. Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their children. And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm the work of our hands.” ~Psalm 90:14-17
Today was another chapter in the new story God is writing in John’s life. He did get the part of young Kurt Kuykendall and today was his first day on the set of FOR THE GLORY. When we were praying together last night for this day, I felt tears well up at hearing John’s sweet prayer for the men and women who are working on the film and his desire to glorify God in his acting the part of young Kurt.
When we were done praying John shared with me that he knows in his heart God is real and personal and cares for us—leading us and loving us—and that he is so thankful we can talk to Him all the time and He hears us. When a mother prays often that her children would truly see the love of God for us in Christ and truly know Him as their Savior—that He would be their greatest joy and deepest friend—how could she not but let the tears flow to hear her child’s simple expressions of sincere faith and belief? Again and again, God does all things well.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” ~Ephesians 1:18,19
Because we are finite human beings it is impossible for us to see the big picture of what God is doing in our lives. We are limited by our humanity and see at best only a glimpse in hindsight. With this we must be content and wait for eternity with Him (if we know Jesus Christ as our Savior), for all things to be revealed.
Likewise, when sorrow and pain and trouble accompany our days, it is often difficult for us to understand His good plan. What a gracious God we have that even though His script may have “affliction” or “longing” or “hardship” written on some of its pages, in wisdom and mercy God so frequently reveals His loving, providential care of our lives.
The stories God is writing may contain tearful scenes, like today’s from FOR THE GLORY. Yet if we belong to the Lord, we can know for sure that the ending will be a happy one. And we can know that our stories are part of His big story. How I love that God is the Director and Producer of our lives!