We sat on the right side of the church near an exit. It was natural for us to run to church as soon as we got home. Grief subsumed us and it was the most natural place in the world for us to run.
We sat near the door because if tears overcame us, we could make a quick exit and not arouse attention. There were only four of us then, my husband and I and our first two daughters. It seemed necessary for us to sit close together and hold the children tight.
This was our first weekend back from an extraordinary week in Michigan so many years ago. The story starts at a Halloween party I attended with the kids. Fun times were had with laughter, games and too much sugar. My husband came by and said we had to meet back at the house. It was urgent.
The girls and I hurried home to the news that my husband’s sister had been murdered by her estranged husband in Michigan. Stunned, we stayed close to one another and made plans for a hard week ahead.
The day after a funeral is probably the worst because the finality is sinking in. We sat in their living room loving and upholding one another when the phone rang.
It was our adoption social worker who told us they had a beautiful baby girl for us. She would come home to us from South Korea at five months of age. The knowledge of her came to us on that sad say.
The Lord took away a life and the Lord provided a new life. We will never understand His purposes or His timing, but the news cheered us all. Especially grandma who began planning the dedication for this new child we would welcome home and the dress her skillful hands would sew. We would call this new child Grace.
Weeks of waiting followed. During this time we returned to our home church on a surreal Sunday. So much had happened that week with death and life, hope and despair, closeness and distance.
The song began softly that morning:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It didn’t matter that we had planned the seat by the door for a quick exit in case we were overcome. Tears flooded our pew in this strange atmosphere of sadness and peace and we made no effort to hide them. We wondered at the mystery and wisdom of God as the words spoke directly into us.
Yes, it is well with my soul. Whatever my lot.
We know the one who calms the billows.
We know the sorrows will not destroy.
We know the one Himself who has taught us to say, “It is well with my soul.”
There is no greater peace.