Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Stories that Really Matter

Police Officer Kevin A. Tonn | Galt Police Department, California
Today marks the one year anniversary of Officer Kevin Tonn's death in the line of duty.

He was a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, an uncle, a grandson, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, an officer.

Mostly he was loved.

Because at the end, it doesn't matter the titles we hold or the positions we maintain, what matters is that we are loved and that we loved. 

I remember the phone call I got from my husband.
I remember thinking that this had to be a mistake.
I remember thinking how fleeting our moments are. How we never know when our time is up and the only way to prepare for that moment is to live fully, full of gratefulness and full of grace, right now. 

Stories are never written in a day. Redemption and Restoration are never one day events. No one buys tickets to see the One Act play of someone's redemption. Because it's never just one act. Never just one moment. Never just one day.

The stories that matter are never written in the easy, in the smooth, in the victory. No, those stories begin in the depths, in the mire, in the pain and the hard and the broken and the busted. Why? Because when we find ourselves drowning and overwhelmed by the mire and we have nowhere else to go, we raise our hands and look for Jesus. It's what Job did when he lost everything--his house, his wife, his children, his wealth, his livestock, his reputation. He shaved his head, fell to his knees, and worshiped God.

When we have lost everything, we run to the only One our hearts truly need.

I see how God is writing a new story for my dear friend N, Kevin's (ex)wife. I see how He is gently leading her to healing streams and quiet waters where regrets and what ifs and if onlys can lie in peace. Where the healing waters can wash over her and beauty buds and blossoms from her ashes.

I see how God is writing a new story for Kevin's parents and his sister. How they have come together to form a united front to support and love and encourage others, to bring beauty from all their ashes. How they have turned Kevin's death into good things for his community. How this family has let grace rise from so much devastation and they have drawn lost and hurting people into their circle and gathered them close and made them family, too. And those good things are bringing healing and comfort and restoration to far more people than just Kevin's family.

I see how God is writing a new story for my husband. Kevin and his family are largely responsible for introducing my husband to Jesus. Kevin and my husband met while working at a youth camp one summer. Their stories of growing up and causing mischief and pulling pranks are enough to double one over in laughter. And the regret of not being able to create any more stories pulls at my husband, haunts him. But he has been wrapped up in all this family love and he has been drawn in and through and there is healing and there is laughter in the remembering and there is beauty from his ashes.

When we let our brokenness become God's story, miracles are birthed in the dark places.

When we walk that dark night of the soul, when all seems lost and God seems so far from us, when all logic and rationality to life has been smashed and cracked, when all light has been sucked away into the vacuum of depression and pain, that's the space where a new story begins.

And it will probably be hard and it will probably be a long season and we won't see it happen or see where we're going for a while, but in the middle of it all stands Jesus. And we have to remember that because we won't feel it. And He gently begins to push aside the curtains that veil us from the light and when the tiniest shaft of light fights its way through, we'll know it's Him. And we'll know He's crafting something beautiful. That our ashes won't always be ashes. That it won't always be so dark or so hard or so broken. That our stories, our hearts, will be marked and scarred by life, but Jesus' scars run deeper and it's because of His scars that ours are healed. 

There's no explanation for why or how Kevin died. Tragic. Unexpected. Unbelievable. There's only moving forward. There's only embracing the now and remembering then and living today. In a world of uncertainty and broken people and busted hearts, there's always hope. And there is always grace.

Praying for my dear friends today as they remember.

Grace always Rises,

"To comfort those who mourn...and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." 
Isaiah 61:2-3

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

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