Friday, March 23, 2012

The Final Move

“Just when we think it’s almost over, Love has the final move.”

                When I use Love as a noun, I often capitalize it. That’s because I think of Love as a Being. God IS Love; that is His essence.  In Chris Rice’s song “The Final Move”, he says, “It was Love that set this fragile planet rolling.”  Then he goes on to say that in the end, Love always wins. Love has the final move. Thus we know Something-that no matter how things look, the good guys eventually  win.  The ultimate Bad Guy was defeated when the nails ruthlessly pierced Love’s hands and He hung on the cross and died. If I didn’t believe that, if I didn’t KNOW it with every part of my being, I could not face the evil that sometimes seems to smother our beloved planet with its choking darkness. I could not handle the everyday misfortunes nor the great sorrows that this life brings.

                Nearly twenty-five years ago, the music of my life was stilled when I lost my father. I did not see how Love could have the final move. All I saw was a vast, black void where my father had been. I thought I would die along with him. I knew, like the Tin Man, that I had a heart, because it was breaking. Then, the cards and letters began pouring in from people who loved us, who loved him, who were sharing our grief. Day by day, the burden seemed easier to bear. Our friends could not carry our loss, but, just as Sam Gamgee could carry Frodo, who bore the ring, they could carry us. And they did. The music began to play again as I came to realize that Dad was still with us, that he was very near, and I grew in my understanding of death as just a transition to another state of being. We will see him again, and then we will have eternity. The time we spend here on this earth is so very short by comparison. Sometimes I stop and silently ask, How am I doing, Dad?  I can almost hear him-for I have not forgotten his voice-saying, You done good! Love had the final move because my father went Home to his Heavenly Father, and I now have two fathers in heaven.

                Fast forward to the summer of 2004. I had recently learned that I would never be able to bear children, and along with that, my husband and I suffered a terrible betrayal. I spent many weeks in a state of shock, going through the motions of living. I remember reading The Magician’s Nephew during that time and the line where Aslan says, “I know. Grief is very great. Only you and I, in this new world, understand this. Let us be good to one another.” I resolved to be good to my husband, who was struggling as much as I, and to attempt to rise from the Swamps of Sadness. God , to whom nothing is a surprise, had sent ahead of time a tiny angel in the form of a dog named Hermione. It is very hard to remain in the Swamps of Sadness when a bright-eyed pup won’t even let you stay on the sofa. Like a Narnian dog, she was there to help, help, help! And she did. Love had the final move. In fact, it was not until October that I realized just how true that was. In the door came three children who needed us as much as we needed them, and we became a family, and the pain began to fade and Love joined us in a joyous and beautiful dance.

                January, 2011. I was called out of my classroom by the school secretary and quietly told that my mother’s house was on fire. She was okay, but they were taking her to the hospital because she had inhaled so much smoke. Neither the house nor the contents were insured. The pets were gone. Everything was gone. I asked God what He was doing this time. I wondered how Love could have the final move. For years I had worried about my mom and sister. They needed a better house. Now God had allowed the only home they had to be destroyed.  I could not fathom what was happening, but by the next day I saw Love moving. I saw a school full of children raise almost two thousand dollars in one day. I saw a small church and a community pull together and commit to rebuilding that house. Ten months later, we celebrated Thanksgiving together in the beautiful, newly restored, God-built dwelling. On the top of the bookcase sits a picture of Dad in his Marine Corps uniform, a reminder that he’s still watching over us. Full circle. And if we needed any further proof that Love has the final move…

                January 2012. A terrible story of animal neglect in the nearby town of Summerdale. Many animals died of starvation, but 109 survived. My sister is getting ready to adopt one of those 109, a dog who looks very much like one we had many years ago…his name was Elliott, and he was an angel, too. My mother also now has Solee, a Siamese who needed to be an only kitty. New, lovely home, better than ever before. New pets to keep them company. New beginnings…but also a few memories recovered. Among them my wedding dress, my Bible from when I was a teenager, our old copy of A Christmas Carol , pictures…and the cards and letters sent by our friends after Dad died. Grace at work. The Hand of God. Beauty from ashes. Love…having the final move.

                All is well.

“ Out of this darkness, new light will shine, for we know that joy is coming in the morning.”-Steven Curtis Chapman

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