Before Eli died I would have told you that I believed in prayer; but I don’t think that was an honest statement. Like some many facets of faith; prayer is one that I thought worked, but did not know or trust enough in it. I believe what the Bible says; so why do I question if God hears my prayers? Because I am sinful and I like to have things to trust that I know without a doubt. Before Eli died I did not know if prayers really worked. My prayer life was very lukewarm and routine (it can even get that way today too, but I try to be aware of when that is happening). I knew that prayers and praying were important, but I really was just going through the motions. Kind of like when I know doing acts of service or giving Greg compliments when my heart is really not in it. I know that God knew that I was not very sincere. But the awesome news: God Loves Us Anyways.
There is a great song called “The Motions” By Matthew West. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaHmiFaX_pk
So let me try to get back on the topic of Prayer! (Sorry it is very easy for me to get off topic 🙂 ) There are 3 events that played out in the days following the death of Eli that involve prayer and I will do my best to clearly explain the awesomeness of God through prayer!
1. A couple of days after Eli died, my friends Casey and John Shank who drove in for the funeral to be with us came over. Greg and I had decided that since our kids had never been to a funeral and were so young (2 and 4) that it would be best for them not to attend Eli’s funeral. (I am sure this will be a topic for another blog post in the future). Since we were not bringing them to the funeral we wanted to have a “goodbye” tribute to Eli in an intimate atmosphere at home with just us and John and Casey. John was in the process of becoming a Pastor himself and we felt so thankful to have them come and be with us. We lit candles, put on Christian music, we sat together and talked about what we loved about Eli, what we were going to miss about him, and just our memories. We looked at pictures and one short video clip that we had of Eli. It was very peaceful, loving, and sad at the same time. I remember we were all sitting around the computer looking at the pictures when Leah said, “Don’t be sad mommy, Jesus says that he is with Eli now. He is holding Eli in heaven. Jesus says that he does not want you to be sad.” Before she said that I was not crying, but I was definitely crying after she said it. But I remember feeling such a peace about Leah and her words. Greg, John, and myself heard her say it and we all can say that it was as if Jesus was using Leah to proclaim that message to us! What an awesome way God has!
2. The day of the funeral we were told that so many people were praying for us. So many people whom we had never met before. People all across Michigan, and in various states too! It is amazing how fast a prayer chain can up and running. I felt very good knowing that we had so much support behind us. But I did not believe that it would make a difference. Boy was I wrong! The day of the funeral I just remember being at peace and happy. I felt like it was a beautiful service; that I was at peace saying goodbye to my baby. The only conceivable way that I can explain how Greg and I were at peace on the day of the funeral is that God answered so many prayers that day and was walking right with us.
The death of Eli and the week of preparing for the funeral and grieving was the hardest weeks of my life; but I have never felt so close to God as I did in that time.
3. A few days after the funeral; I was standing at my kitchen sink doing the dishes. I remember having many internal conversations with God during that time. I was never angry with God; but I did blame myself. I beat myself up quite a bit and tried to replay what happened and what could have happened if I had done things differently. Eli had started to finally take long naps that week. I put him down for his morning nap like normal and I never checked on him. I did not have the monitor turned on (I am not sure I would have heard anything anyways) on because his crib was in my room on the main floor and I always heard him when he woke up. usually during his nap I would sneak in to put laundry away or clean my bathroom or something; but that day I did not. Greg was home that day working in the basement. I remember telling Greg at lunchtime’ “See doesn’t he take really good naps now? He has been taking a long nap all week.” After lunch I put Jonah (my two-year old at the time) down for his nap. Leah then went to do some alone playtime upstairs. I then decided I should check on him as it had been about three hours since I laid him down. And immediately I knew what was to come. I blamed myself and felt such intense guilt after all of this. A few days after the funeral as I was watching the dishes I heard God in my head respond “Eli loves you. You are not to blame. He is safe.” I can honestly say I have never heard God talk back to me in any conversations that I had with him. I know that he has answered some prayers before and showed me clarity in matters; but I had never heard his voice. I can only explain that I had to be in such a vulnerable raw state that I was open to hearing what God wanted to tell me. I longed for God in my life as I would if I were drowning. Because in a way I was. So that day I felt at peace about my guilt struggle. Now after a year I still feel guilty. I still ask myself what if quite a bit; but not as much. If I notice that I start falling down or slipping beneath the surface; I bring my struggles to God. He is so much more powerful than I can understand.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“Precious is the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)
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