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First and Foremost

“We are healed of grief only when we express it to the full.”

Chuck Swindoll

Derailed. Lost. In a haze. Lack of focus. Emotionally flat. Exhausted. Not sleeping well. Staring into space. Tears flowing when you least expect it. I have experienced these signs of grief after a car accident tragically took the lives of our friends, Ty and Terri Schenzel.

As soon as I read the text describing their death, shock and disbelief invaded my mind and emotions. I tried to call my Mom as there’s no one better than a Mom’s shoulder to cry on. Then I HAD to see my Counselor. So I went out to the deck equipped with my journal and box of tissues. I needed to hear my Heavenly Father’s voice.

This is what I heard Him say: “Don’t ever take any life for granted for it can be taken from you in a blink of an eye. Make every day of your life count for Me. Minister to and mentor the masses. Don’t waste the gift of time I have given to you.”

I wept as I told the Lord out loud, “I trust You in all of this tragedy, devastation and pain, for I know You are good.”

The next day found me outside again as I waited to hear what the Father wanted to say. This time He said, “Love Me Norma. That is to be the first and last and in between thing you are to do each day. Live your life loving Me and in turn you will automatically love others and live a life that counts and has no regrets.”

My friend describes ministry as “the overflow of our relationship with God.” Ty and Terri first and foremost, loved the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind. And their intimacy with God overflowed by loving their neighbor as themselves. (Matthew 22:37-38) The reason they loved people well was because they loved God so well. To make my life count, to know I have fulfilled God’s assignment, and to live a life pleasing to God, all begins with loving Him.

I have learned over the years to get grief out. I used to stuff my hurt and sorrow deep down within my heart, pretending it didn’t exist. I discovered though, if I don’t deal with my hurt then it will eventually deal with me. Someone once said, “He who conceals his grief finds no remedy for it.” Dealing with grief may look different to everyone, but to me it usually involves tears and pouring my heart out to God. As we grieve, we need to hold on to the promise found in Jeremiah 31:13b. “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”

Remember, if you do only one thing, love God with every fiber of your being and then out of the overflow, ministry will take place and many will feel loved. That is the legacy Ty and Terri left and now their baton has been passed on to us.

“In sorrow and suffering, go straight to God with confidence, and you will be strengthened, enlightened and instructed.”

St. John of the Cross

Relevant Reflections:

1. How do you handle grief?

2. How can you love the Lord your God with all your heart so that ministry takes place?

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