I have to admit, I pray differently than most people. There is never an occasion when I offer up a prayer for favor that Michaela does not pass through my mind. I belong to the metastatic breast cancer community, and I see these women post scriptures promising answered prayers, healing. I am a part of that community, and I pray for myself too. I also pray for healing, certainly, but most of all I pray that I would be given the time and opportunity to complete the things I am here to complete. I don’t know what exactly that is, besides reaching out to you all through this blog, but I don’t feel that I am done. I have an overreaching acceptance of the fact our will is not necessarily God’s will, and that our understanding of what is good, what is needed, is not always what is within God’s wisdom. I worry sometimes about whether this is the right way to pray. It may be more difficult to move mountains when your prayer includes a caveat that you know God might want that mountain right there, that maybe he wants to strengthen our muscles by having us climb over it.
But the fact remains that while I was spending that entire first night after Michaela was taken on my knees, praying for God to bring Michaela home safely, she was already gone beyond my reach.
Last Sunday in church, we sang the song Do It Again.
Part of the lyrics are:
Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet
These words touched me deeply. The words, “you have never failed me yet” made my heart ache. There is nothing about the road I have walked in this life that has been easy, and times the question of why has been just too big to see around. But as I was singing there came this vision of me walking down a forest path, very much like the one in the photo at the top of this blog. I was watching myself from above and behind, a fair distance off, so I was just a small figure on the path. I was walking slowly, with the weight of this life in my heart, but beside me walked another figure, Jesus, and he made the ache bittersweet. The grief was there, but it was moderated by a feeling of it being okay, of it being life. We don’t all have our children murdered, but we do all suffer, and I’ve done enough of it apart from Michaela that I never underestimate the suffering anyone experiences. Finally at some point, Jesus stopped, and turned towards me and enveloped me in a big hug. If you know me, you know that hugs are medicine for my heart, and this was such good medicine. The vision ended then, but the feeling of being held remained.
Sometime in the future, I will return to California to give a victim impact statement at the trial of the man who kidnapped and murdered my daughter. This has been running around in my head for awhile. I didn’t want to be in the same room as that man. I didn’t want to look into his face, or for him to be able to look into mine. I think I had a sense that he had won somehow, or at least that he thought he had, and I thought he would gloat. But no more. Now I can stand against him.
If you have been following me for any length of time, you know that I came to a place of peace with God over all this, you know that I saw me sitting with Michaela in eternity looking back on what had happened to us, and saying, “oh that!” like it was so insignificant, because we were able to see from an infinite point of view, and to see that even one life was changed, one soul comforted, by what we endured. It wasn’t all about me. It wasn’t all about Michaela. It was about the greater eternal good.
I just completed a Beth Moore Bible study called Entrusted, on Paul’s second letter to Timothy. This was the last letter that Paul wrote, during his final imprisonment in Rome, shortly before he was beheaded for his faith. I hadn’t really understood this when I had read it before, or had not taken that experience of it into myself. I had also (coincidentally) seen a movie dramatization of this time in Paul’s life recently, so I felt it it even more deeply as Paul wound up his letter. Paul knew the time of his execution was near. He said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” (2 Timothy 4:6, ESV) In the meantime, he was enduring beatings and abuse during his imprisonment under Nero. Yet still he was able to say, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18, ESV)
And when I read that, I thought of Michaela. In the video portion of the study, Beth said, “We will arrive safely in the heavenly kingdom.” I wrote that down, and wrote afterward it, “Michaela was delivered safely into his heavenly kingdom.”
You have also heard me say that I don’t know that God did not help Michaela through her ordeal. She was a praying little girl, and I had always told her that if ever she needed help and I wasn’t there, that she should ask God, and God would help her, and I know she did just that. Maybe God sent his angels to minister to her during her ordeal. Perhaps he removed her consciousness from her body. Or perhaps he just strengthened her through it. But ultimately, she was delivered safely home. Maybe not to the home we shared at that time, but to the home we will share for eternity.
David Misch was not able to take Michaela’s life. Not really. And he was absolutely not able to dim her light. If anything, he made it shine brighter, spreading it over countries world wide, to thousands of people who never would have known Michaela otherwise. Evil did not triumph. It cannot.
Through all my life, through all the sorrow, the anger, the rebellion, the suffering, I have been held, even when I have struggled against it, and I know Michaela was as well. And for you, my friend, there are arms to hold you as well.