"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, not depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:37-39 (KJV)
Did you happen to catch the very first thing in Paul's list?
Of ten possible scenarios that could threaten to separate us from God's love?
If you sit and ponder on these three verses, you will come to the same conclusion I did.
Paul pretty much covers every, single, possible situation in human life.
His list even includes every possible hypothetical.
He covers it all.
And at the top of his list?
Of things that could possibly place a barrier between us and the love God has for us?
Losing someone you love has to be one of the most profound losses and sources of pain in this life.
Knowing they are gone...off the scene of present life....never to be seen, heard, felt, or touched again is very powerful, and it touches the deepest recesses of the spirit.
It is an overwhelming loss that only God can heal.
So, I think possibly that is why the wise Apostle Paul mentioned death first.
No doubt, he had experienced it...firsthand.
Perhaps, his losses had been deep.
His mother, possibly.
Perhaps his father.
More than likely, both.
Had he stood by their bedsides as they were crossing over?
Did he leave the scene and find a place alone to weep?
Did they have an extremely close relationship?
How old was he when he lost them?
Questions for which we do not have answers.
I have found, that in order to write about something...to truly write about something...to be able to convey those deep emotions and feelings....the words must come from someplace deep...from someplace known.
On a personal level.
From first hand experience.
If I am to sell you on something, I cannot tell you about it second-hand.
You won't be convinced.
The words will be empty, without passion, without inspiration, without life.
Your first question to me will be this.
Have you tried it?
Have you experienced it?
Have you felt it?
Have you gone through it?
Before Mom died, I could only imagine what this would feel like.
Had I written about it, it would have been from a distant and hypothetical point of view.
My words would have come up short....flat....and uninspired.
I learned years ago that in order to be a good and effective writer, in order to pen something believable, there is one rule that never fails:
Write what you know.
Write from your heart.
Let words flow from personal experience.
Speak reality....from your soul.
Hence, these devotionals.
I love to read the Apostle Paul's writing.
He wasn't speaking from a place unfamiliar.
He didn't daydream, then reach for his pen and scroll.
His words were not his words.
They came from the gentle pressure of the precious Holy Spirit...moving upon him with inspiration from the very mind and heart of God.
God allowed him to experience emotion.
So he could write about it firsthand.
God turned Paul's tests into Paul's testimonies.
Paul listed ten things that absolutely could not separate us from the love of God.
He started out by saying..."for I am persuaded."
How does one become persuaded?
Is it not through having gone through a particular situation and proving the outcome?
Today, I am a little over a month in.....to living daily life without my Mother.
The one who has loved me longer than anyone else on earth.
The one who carried me in her womb for nine months.
Who took extra care and caution to make sure she didn't drink, smoke, or do anything else harmful to me before birth.
Who after my birth, cared lovingly for me, put me first...above her own needs and wants.
Who prayed over me....and for me.....and with me.
Who drove mile after mile to keep me in Christian schools, no matter how many times we moved or where we lived.
Who was undoubtedly the most selfless person I ever knew.
I'll tell you the truth.
I didn't think I could go on....living, breathing, functioning, going through the motions of life...without her.
The fear and dread of it hung over me like a black cloud...all my life.
I knew the day would come.
And its terror gripped me...each time I would think of it.
There is only one way I could ever truly believe Paul's words...in today's passage.
Oh, I believed his words...before...
for Mom and Dad taught me...from the moment I was old enough to understand English....that the Bible and every word in it is the divine, inspired Word of Eternal God.
There are no errors in it.
There are no discrepancies.
It is absolute.
The only absolute I know.
I have based my whole life....my entire belief system....my complete world view....on the Holy Bible, the eternal Word of God.
So, to say I believed Paul's words....God's words....would have been a completely true and accurate statement.
But, now I can tell you that I am persuaded.
That death absolutely cannot separate one from the love of God.
Because I feel God's love.
It has transcended the threat of separation.
It has pierced through the walls of sorrow...of grief....of anguish....of terror.
God's sovereign, divine, all-consuming love....is surrounding me in a way I have never experienced before.
How could I have?
I have never felt loss....on this level before.
I have never lost my mother....until now.
How could I have been subjected to...this kind...this depth of love?
Nothing has ever hit me so hard.
Nothing has ever hurt...this much.
God has never had the opportunity to disclose love to me...at this level....to this degree.
At first, in the very beginning, as the gate to this lonely path opened up before me,
and I was forced...dragged.....forward to walk it....I'll admit.
I did not feel God's love.
I felt abandoned.
I felt forsaken.
I felt cast off....by God.
It was a stage....I had no choice but to walk through it.
It was inevitable.
It had to happen.
Jesus felt it....remember?
From the cross?
When He said, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
He walked it....this lonely, feeling-God-forsaken-path.
But, soon after, He rose....from the ashes, from the despair, from the grave.
And He realized....that it was all a part of the plan.
That His Father loved Him.
So much...that He had to do what was best.
I feel Him near me...every time I break down.
Each time a teardrop falls.
In every moment of despair.
When I am missing her....so much....I feel I will go under.
He tenderly comes to me.
He takes me up in His arms.
He holds me so close.
Until the sobbing stops.
And I can face the next moment.
I've been taught all my life that God loves me.
I started singing "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so..." soon after I began talking.
It has been pounded, reinforced, preached, taught, and reiterated to me through countless ways...all the days of my life.....that God loves me.
Death's shadow cast its gloom drearily over my life.
It's waters threatened to overwhelm my soul.
But, God's love is stronger.
God's love is more powerful.
God's love trumps every situation, every emotion, every scenario, every level of pain....in this life.
I wish I could convey to you the way I am experiencing God's love...at this very moment.
I believe if you could feel this....this power....this force...that is compelling me forward...that is enabling me to get up each morning....that empowers me to take each new step...face each lonely moment....
you would absolutely stand amazed.
You would be in complete awe....of Almighty God.
I have walked hand-in-hand with Jesus for many years...most of the years of my life.
I have loved Him, and He has loved me.
We have enjoyed sweet, close communion...on an intimate level.
He has been everything to me....for years.
I have never before, in all these years...of our walk together....experienced His love for me....on this level.
I have never felt Him this close.
I have never experienced Him this way.
And though He has always been a tender, loving, gentle Savior and Shepherd to me,
He has never held me this close.
I am clinging tight.
I can say with Paul, "Death has not separated me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He still loves me....in spite of the pain, in spite of my condition, in spite of my inability to believe, in spite of my questions, in spite of my anger, in spite of it all.
I am persuaded.....God loves me....still.