The Healing Touch of Remembrance

More than a year ago, I was reminded of a book my Mum had read to one of my sisters and I when we were little. I remember that book deeply moving my heart, but I couldn’t exactly remember what happened in it. So, I decided I would buy it to read it again. But I ended up storing it away in my bed side drawer, not wanting to go there quite yet.

But when God called me to go back to rewrite my Prodigal testimony with the new insight He had given me, He kept prompting me to read that book I had stored away. I told him I didn’t want to feel the grief I knew would wash over me in doing so.

Mum reading aloud books like this one expressed so much of her heart of love for us and her abiding presence to us girls growing up, and I didn’t want to feel her absence in my life. Nor did I want to revisit a book that had brought me to tears as a little girl, leaving an indellible mark on me (even if I couldn’t remember what it was about it that did so).

But God was persistent and when the words just wouldn’t come for the following chapter of my Prodigal testimony, I knew why. I knew that they would only come, in my obedience to the prompting to return and rest in the words of that book. And so I opened the pages and began reading a book I couldn’t put down. And I suddenly realized why God had wanted me to go back.

My Mum read this book to us before we adopted my little brother. Amazingly, as I read it for myself, I found the story expressed so much of what I would walk through a few short years later. Tears streamed as I read this bit in particular:

Suddenly a wave of great protective tenderness came over him […] Well he would see to it no harm came to her. All his life he would guide her through the darkness and protect her with his love. His heart swelled for a moment, and then he remembered that he was only a boy himself and completely under his stepfather’s control. They might take Kinza away from him, and then his love would be powerless to reach her.
Was there no stronger love to shelter her, no more certain light to lead her? He did not know.

P.20 Star of Light by Patricia St. John

Even though, I had already experienced the love and light of God in my life, I still needed to learn, just like Kinza’s brother, to trust that God’s love and light would shelter and lead my little brother, even in my own weakness and inability to save him. Kinza’s brother couldn’t stop or heal the harm done to his little sister. He needed God to move other people’s hearts – and his own heart – for him, to bring the justice and healing they each needed. Just as I did too.

Beautifully, when I left for Europe as an almost 20 year-old, leaving my now 11 year old adopted brother behind, God began to place others in his life. These men and women showered my little brother in the compassion and mercy my parents and I had been unable to give him, in our own need for God’s healing touch.

And more than twenty years later God broke open my mother’s heart, as she lay dying, suffering from a brain cancer that disabled the very part of the brain that trauma had disabled in my little brother. My Mum was empowered by God in her weakness to extend her son the compassion and mercy he so longed for.

God slowed my Mum to a stand-still to receive the compassion and mercy she too had so longed to receive as a weary and pain-struck adopted Mama, so she could now give it away to her son all these years later. And He slowed me down also, to show me that that Voice of compassion speaking in me all those years ago was not in fact wrong, disobedient or evil, nor powerless to save, but was and still is in fact good, obedient and pure, and mighty to save. God did what I (and my parents) couldn’t do. He perfected His power in our weakness.

As I read to the end of the book, I was also so touched to see God firmly rebuking the sin of one of the other characters in such tender love and affection for her. The little girl was selfishly clinging to the pain she felt at not being able to “fix” what she felt was all her fault, but in so doing, she shut her ears, eyes and heart to the love of Jesus that was so very present to her through her parents.

As I read that bit, I saw my own little girl heart in that little girl, and I saw how God had also – through the years – firmly rebuked this sin of clinging to my pain in selfishness and pride. He had led me to a change of heart and mind, as I began to see how it was never God who had turned his back on me in my pain and inability to “fix” what was not mine to fix. No, it was me who had turned my back on Him, as I closed my eyes, ears and heart to all the ways He was affirming and showering me in His love and mercy, through His never-forsaking presence in my midst – not just through my parents but many others He placed on my path.

Praise God for persisting in His promptings for me to read this book. He knew that those tears I was so afraid of shedding were so very necessary for my healing. But little did I realize that they wouldn’t be the tears of loss and grief, but gain and joy. For, as I read to the end I was so in awe of God healing my heart through my Mum – even in her (physical) absence. He showed me in a palpable way that He – Love Himself– never dies and He reaffirmed for me the truth of the Scripture my Dad had inscribed in part on my mother’s headstone (Revelations 14:13 NLT):

[…] Blessed are those who die in the Lord […] for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”

Father God, thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who teaches us all things and brings to remembrance all Jesus has already spoken to us. Today, from the overflow of blessings You have poured out upon me, I bless those who gather here to read my testimony to Your goodness and mercy. I bless them to also experience the healing power of Your Holy Spirit, who comforts us, advocates for us and continually brings to memory all the ways You have been present to us, even when we were blinded to Your love in our sin.

Even if they have never before experienced the power of Your Holy Spirit- I ask that the very day they read this, You would descend upon them in power to open their hearts that they might hear Your call to repentance and receive Your forgiveness of all their sins – past, present and future – in Christ Jesus. Father, may they, like me, come to experience the incredible gift of Your Holy Spirit inside of them. Give them the deep down heart knowledge that no matter what or who they lose in this life and no matter what mistakes they have made in the past or will make in the future, Your love will always remain with them – into eternity. Open the eyes of their hearts to receive Your compassion and mercy, and their hope of glory in Christ Jesus. Shed abroad Your love into their hearts by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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