Amplified by Grief

by DanWolgemuth on February 10, 2017

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14, ESV)

Chad emerged from the back of the stage and thoughtfully positioned himself on a stool. He carefully plugged his guitar into the sound system and after a few words of introduction he began to play and sing.

The song was an original. Birthed out of an unscripted confluence of love and pain, of life and death. Chad had married Lindsey just nine months before. He looked into the eyes of his 22-year-old bride and promised to love her through everything that life would bring them.

He knew. She knew. We all knew that Lindsey was in the battle of her life… but love beckoned, love sacrificed. Love said “I will.” And before they could celebrate their first anniversary she was gone. Beautiful Lindsey was gone.

His wedding band flashed as his fingers slid effortlessly across the neck of the guitar. What was once a symbol of fidelity, now a show of glimmering solidarity, a golden memorial.

The words rolled. Soulful, powerful, reflective words rolled. Written days after Lindsey’s death, the words carried the weight and influence that had been refined in the fire of grief. They chiseled their meaning on the emotionally softened hearts in the sanctuary. Then, with the precision of a prize-fighter, Chad delivered a phrase that hit squarely on the jaw of every unguarded heart in the room. “I would give all that I have for just one more day with you.”

The words hung in the air like an English fog.

A transaction impossible to negotiate, but a dream, a vision, a wish nonetheless… and in that hanging fog, a stark and stunning and unintended chastisement to every husband clinging to the hand of his bride. To me.

Chad, in words born of grief, had shaken the foundation of complacency of every lover in the room.

All I have… one more day. Just one.

He meant it. He would do it. For just twenty-four hours with Lindsey. Twenty-four hours of tenderness and touch. Twenty-four hours of laughter and life. Twenty-four hours of stories and silence. Twenty-four hours with Lindsey.

Everything he had.

From the lips of a heartbroken husband. Words amplified in the crucible of pain.

Love well.

Today.

While she’s close.

Convicted. Inspired. Undone.

In honor of Lindsey. In solidarity with Chad.

Every twenty-four hours… a sweet and precious gift. Worth unimaginable value.

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“Well, do you know how to wrestle?”

by DanWolgemuth on January 27, 2017

Rowan, our three-year-old grandson, posed the question to Mary as she invited input on plans for the afternoon at our house.

I have many vivid memories of interaction with my grandmother as a child, and I can unequivocally assure you that not only did I never verbalize a question like this, I never conceived of such an idea.

But Rowan’s concept of a grandma is wildly different. It’s engaging and gritty and involved.

And yes, Mary assured Rowan that she knew how. And not only did she know how, she also was willing… to get down on the floor; to engage; to participate in a wrestling match.

The question that Rowan asked had to do with competence and safety and access. It had to do with tangible and visible and practical love.

In so many ways, this is the human dilemma. Fallen, sinful, separated and selfish… we created a gap from God. We distanced ourselves. We revolted.

But God… rich in mercy and love… sent His son. He crossed the great divide. Why?

To wrestle with us.

On the floor. In the ring.

In our brokenness we asked God, “Well, do you know how to wrestle?” Are you safe and secure to grapple with? Are you approachable and real and engaged?

So God sent His son. The wrestler. In the flesh. In the ring.

To wrestle.

No question is unwelcome; no conflict too severe; no sin too egregious.

To wrestle.

As outrageous as it seemed to me to think about a wrestling grandma, how incredibly unthinkable that God sent His son to do the same. In the flesh.

Not a concept to be debated, but a God to be embraced. Not in the classroom, but on the mat.

God in the flesh; in the ring.

Strong and safe. Tender and tough.

“Well, do you know how to wrestle?”

Always and forever…

Jesus.

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A Charlie-Sized Dream

January 23, 2017

A dream. A vision. But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. Isaiah 32:8 In early January I read this scripture. The ink for these words came from the heart of God. I was riveted by this thought, and inspired by the concept… but with lingering ambiguity of what this looked like in practice. Then, while standing in the basement of […]

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Sunscreen and Umbrellas

January 13, 2017

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” I live in Aurora, Colorado. On most days in our city, the sun shines. In fact, it doesn’t just shine, it envelopes us. We love it. That also means that on good […]

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Revisiting the Glimpse

January 9, 2017

Within the past several days I was escorted back to the front seat of an incident that happened privately many years ago in Munich, Germany. I’m guessing it was in 1999… but that’s irrelevant, except that the lingering impact of this experience hovers over my soul. I was in the center of my tenure with […]

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Wow

December 22, 2016

It was just a short drive through the neighborhood to discover and inspect the local Christmas lights. Sitting in a car seat in the middle row of Andrew and Chrissy’s Honda minivan was Drew, our twenty-month old grandson who is loaded with unencumbered jabber and joy. To Drew, Christmas is magic. At nearly every sight […]

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For Unto Us a Scandal

December 16, 2016

Before the miracles, gossip. Before the cross, whispers. Before an empty tomb, rumors. Before the swaddling clothes, a pregnant, unmarried teenager. Before glorious praise, scandal. Before confidence, doubt. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Gabriel “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Elizabeth […]

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The Comeback of the Year

December 2, 2016

I love comeback stories. Who doesn’t. The underdog. The outcast. From benched to the best. The National Football League and Major League Baseball recognize the athlete that best defines an athletic comeback each year. With Thanksgiving in the rear view mirror, I’ve come to believe that one of the most noteworthy comebacks in our present […]

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What I Didn’t Expect Was Brandon

November 21, 2016

The final appeal had been made. The cards had been filled out. The closing prayer offered. I stood by Table 12 at the front of the room, assembled my belongs, and turned for the conversations that typically occur after a Youth For Christ fund raising banquet. What I didn’t expect was Brandon. Brandon is a […]

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A Shoebox Filled With Love

November 11, 2016

“Greater love has no one that this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  ~ John 15:13 Bruce Cargo was a young man when he walked into the jungle of Viet Nam. Thousands of miles from his family in Port Huron, Michigan, surrounded by the confusion of war, Bruce stewarded the honor of […]

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