3.14.2014

Remembering our son Matthew.

A few weeks ago, as we traveled to church, I was elated with the thought of worshiping with the body of Christ.  I was sleeping well, feeling better physically than I have for a long time, and was eager to lift my voice in praise with my brothers and sisters.  The children were equally excited (they love going to church!) and the car was filled with happy chatter as we rolled along.

And then ... the first notes of the song "I Can Only Imagine" floated through the radio, and within seconds ~ I was weeping.

This was the song that was playing when we lost our son Matthew, and I cannot hear it without thinking of him.  Sometimes it is a sweet memory that lacks any intense emotion, but other times it's as though I am swept back all the way to that day when my sweet doctor looked at me and said, "I think you are miscarrying."  Five words that changed my life ~ forever.

In the past, I would have done anything to kill that overwhelming sorrow ... to bury the tears ... to run from the pain.  But the Lord has been doing a lot of work in me the past few years to teach me how to feel ... how to surrender to emotion ... how to deal with it honestly ... and how to let myself just be in the moment, no matter how difficult, no matter how helpless or scared I feel.
So, as the sadness of missing my son flooded my heart, I just let it sweep me away with full abandon.  It was hard.  I was completely taken off guard, and so was my family.  Dennis gasped and reached out to hold my hand while my children were stunned into silence as they witnessed their mother express deep emotion that is not often seen in daily life.

Eight years.  Matthew would be eight years old today.  It does astonish me that I feel such powerful emotion when so much time has passed, but when I stop and consider that love has no boundaries ... time, memory or space ... I realize that the emotions should not surprise me at all. My son has been gone for eight years.  I never knew him.  I never heard his laugh, felt his arms around my neck, or heard him say, "I love you, mommy."  I have no idea what color his hair is, whether his eyes are green, or a sparkling blue like those of his brothers.  I do not know what his voice sounds like, or how his mouth curves into a smile when he is overcome with joy.
And that is the wonder of it all.
I do not need to know or experience any of these things to feel a deep, sincere, affectionate love for Matthew because ~ he is my son.  And my mother's heart remembers every detail of the precious few moments I had with him after he was delivered.  He never took a breath, he never grasped my finger, but he was REAL.  He was whole.  He was mine.  And I loved him.
I love him still.

It is moments like this - when I remember, when I describe the details - that my heart catches up with my mind and the sadness and longing for my son pours over me as though I had never shed a tear over his tiny body.  It feels like the mourning is fresh each time.  Oh, those first moments with him when I held his lifeless body in my hands, looking at him in awe and wonder that such a tiny thing could be so wholly complete.  Every detail of his body was skillfully designed by the hand of the Creator with joy ~ and with purpose.

Scripture states that our days are numbered before we take our first breath.  And the Lord's plan for Matthew's life was 112 days, in the womb, without one moment spent on this earth.

As much as I wish I had known my son, it is a joyous comfort to know that he has ONLY known heaven!  His brothers and sister were given life, but they were also given the trials and burdens and pain of living, with no way to escape until the Lord calls each of them home.  They have experienced hurt and disappointment and sin.  Matthew has no idea what those things feel like ... he only knows the beauty, joy, splendor, and never-ending worship of heaven.
He has seen the face of God!  He has met the saints of old.  He has walked the streets of gold!
While we wonder and dream and imagine what heaven will be like, my son already KNOWS.

Matthew does not have to imagine.
He has walked with the Father.
He has seen His face.
He has fallen on his knees before a holy God.
And he has ...
forever worshiped the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Oh, Matthew, how I long for you, and how I envy you!  You are living the reality of heaven while the rest of us wait to have its treasures unfolded before us.  You are blessed, indeed.  As much as I wish I knew you ... as much as I wish you knew me ... I would never trade what you have enjoyed your entire life for what you would have experienced down here.  The love of a father and mother, the affection of siblings, the beauty of a sunset, the delicious scent of cookies baking in the oven, the power of the ocean, and the loving touch of a spouse ... none of them can begin to compare with what your eyes have seen and what your heart has rejoiced over as you worship your God with full abandon and joy.

You changed my life, Matthew.  The Lord had a purpose for us the moment He created you.  We had no idea what it would look like in the end, but He did.  And all of His ways are GOOD.
I love you, sweet baby.  Forever and always ~ I will love you.

I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side...
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me!
I can only imagine.

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine!

I can only imagine, when that day comes, when I find myself standing in the Son!
I can only imagine, when all I will do, is forever, forever worship You!

I can only imagine!

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