Posted by: karanoel | April 18, 2019

Active trust

My worst fear has come to pass. Cole is gone. He took his life yesterday. I keep waiting to wake up; hoping it is some awful dream that will be over soon. But it would seem that it is real and all the surrender has led to this point – of truly handing him over to the Lord.
-Journal entry from 7/31/18

I have no idea why I started thinking about Abraham when I was driving the other day. But right there, behind my steering wheel on Red Hill Avenue, something registered that I’d never thought about before. Abraham’s ability to so quickly and wholly offer up his promised son in response to God’s command was not because trust had suddenly appeared in that crucial moment of choice, but because trust had been built through a thousand and one other moments of surrender… enabling him to act upon, rather than wrestle with, delay or altogether reject God’s command. I am certainly no Abraham, but I do understand the kind of trust that is built on a lifetime of surrenders – some seemingly insignificant; some clearly insurmountable – enabling a ready response to the Lord’s voice.

Last May, Cole casually texted that he might be removed from his job on the sub for a while “because of sanity reasons.” When I probed further, trying to hold back from an all-out assault of questions, he said the Navy was finally addressing the depression he had been struggling with. He answered a few more questions – yes, he was seeing a doctor and no, he couldn’t talk on the phone – before going totally silent. No more responses. No more answers.

He was all the way across the country in an all-consuming military world I just didn’t understand. I didn’t want to make his life harder by reaching out to his superiors – not that I would have known how to contact them anyway. And he hadn’t given me the numbers of his roommates. I felt completely helpless. Panic set in.

I went into full-on mama bear mode, as Cole later teased, bullying him to call me; telling him I was looking up plane tickets that very moment and was going to show up on his doorstep and not leave until I knew he was okay. I meant it and didn’t care for a second that fear was leading the charge. One of my friends responded to my SOS text with an invitation to pray together in the morning. After the tormented night I spent fearing for Cole’s life, it couldn’t come soon enough.

I don’t think it’s possible to explain what transpired that morning during the time of worship and prayer with my friend. All I can say is that heaven came down and emptied itself into that place. The voice of fear echoing through my mind was completely silenced and the atmosphere of my heart was transformed from panic to peace. The Lord’s direction came so sweetly and clearly. With my whole being, I knew I wasn’t supposed to race out to Virginia to rescue Cole. Instead, I was to surrender him – again – to the Lord I had learned to trust through this very role as his mom. Yes, the stakes were higher than ever, but God had never failed me.

So I followed up the harried texts from the night before with ones of release and encouragement, letting Cole know that I loved him more than ever; that I would be in Virginia in a heartbeat or do anything to help him if he needed and wanted, but that I wasn’t going to force my way into his world. I released him from my demand for a phone call – even the one I requested for Mother’s Day – and gave him the numbers of a few family friends he trusted, encouraging him him to reach out to someone. I followed up with the question, “You wouldn’t consider hurting yourself, would you? Because there is nothing we can’t help you untangle.” He didn’t respond, but it was okay this time because there was no fear present. Of course fear tried to come back in. It always does. But I had my mandate from heaven and knew from experience that only by remaining in a surrendered place would I truly be able to hear the Lord’s voice and act upon any instructions, be they to step in or to step back… both of which require heavenly wisdom and active trust.

Mother’s Day came and by some miracle, I was able to hear my phone ring over the din of Disneyland rides, voices and tantrums. It was my boy, calling me out of love, not duty. He sounded so far from the person I knew, almost robotic, saying “They broke me, mom. I’m broken.” But by the end of our conversation, nearly 2 hours later, Cole – my Cole – had emerged. He was so soft, telling me that he missed being able to talk to me when he’d learned something new, even when I didn’t understand or care. I agreed that I usually didn’t understand but that I always cared and I missed it too. “Please call me whenever that happens,” I said. “Otay,” he responded in the childlike voice he often used with me. And he found his humor again, like his normal self. When I told him that his call was the best gift I’d ever gotten, he joked about how low the bar had been set that a single phone call would rank so high.

We didn’t talk on the phone again until the 4th of July when I called him and – what?! – he actually answered. He had been meaning to call, he said, to let me know that he had been removed from the sub and put on limited duty with easy jobs and normal work hours that actually gave him time to breathe. He had started on antidepressants and was finding his life again, engaging in hobbies and planning for the future. He said wasn’t doing great, but was so much better. And holy cow, did he ever sound better. I told him how proud I was of him. We hung up two hours later and I breathed a sigh of deep relief. We’d made it through. He was going to be okay.

The next news of him I received was carried by the Naval officers who showed up at my door just a few weeks later. I have some guesses about what happened in between the call and the news, but don’t – and may never – know for sure. His roommate said he had been talking about his future that very day. What I do know is that I was confused. The Lord had told me to let go. I was sure of it. But it wasn’t supposed to end this way. Surrender had always played out for me with a happy ending.

On a bike ride with my family one day, I said to the Lord, “But you said to trust you and I did.” He spoke so clearly into my heart, “Have I ever – even once – squandered your trust?” The answer was a resounding, “No. Not even once.” “So do you think that I would squander it now, when you have entrusted me with your most precious gift?” “No. You wouldn’t. I know you. You wouldn’t do that.” Peace washed over my heart. Not because I understood in that moment why God didn’t have me intervene or didn’t intervene Himself (although He spoke something to me about that since then), but because He has shown me over years and years of friendship how immense His love is, how unfailing His character is and how perfect His wisdom is. The many times I wondered what I would do when I woke up from this nightmare – maybe double-up on mama bear vigilance and race out to Virginia? – it was this bedrock of God’s goodness in my life and the fact that He has proven Himself trustworthy in every possible instance that caused me to think that I would continue on this path of prayer and trust.

But after hours spent putting together the slideshow for Cole’s memorial service, I collapsed in brokenhearted tears and said aloud, “I just can’t reconcile these pictures of this sweet, smiling boy with this horrific outcome.” God gently directed me to a journal entry from a few days after the prayer time with my friend. I have no memory of writing it, but it said, “There have been a whole lot of tears as I’m once again having to lay him on the altar. At the same time, I saw it so clearly as the right direction from the Spirit that I could trust that even if Cole were to take his life, God would reconcile even that.” God would reconcile it. Not me. I can’t. There is no way ever. But somehow He can. And He was even gracious enough to plant that in my heart ahead of time.

In Hebrews it says that, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” In a manner of speaking, I too have received Cole back from death. He is living in a resurrected body, covered by the blood and perfect love of Jesus, removed forever from death’s reach. Which is why, I think, it feels so very right to release his ashes this Sunday, on Easter. It is a whole other level of surrender and I have been in tears all week, but it is a declaration of trust in the unfailing hope I have in what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection, not just for Cole’s life in heaven, but for mine here… and a celebration of the day that I too will inhabit my resurrected body and celebrate the Lord’s victory over death with Cole, my precious son and friend.

empty tomb


Responses

  1. Kara:

    Karen and I marvel at the incredible grace that God has poured out upon you and that you have managed to receive. This kind of message is so seldom spoken—and so deeply needed. May He continue to carry you along, provide for you in your deepest needs and darkest times, and enable you to pass along to others a measure of the grace that you have been empowered to embrace.

    Blessed Holy Weekend!

    Paul & Karen

    >

    • I receive that beautiful blessing with all of my heart. Thank you. Blessed holy weekend to you both as well!

  2. Dear Kara,
    I read your post carefully, anticipating a profound and awesome word about God’s character in the midst of suffering and profound loss. And there it was:

    “ I just can’t reconcile these pictures of this sweet, smiling boy with this horrific outcome.” God gently directed me to a journal entry from a few days after the prayer time with my friend. I have no memory of writing it, but it said, “There have been a whole lot of tears as I’m once again having to lay him on the altar. At the same time, I saw it so clearly as the right direction from the Spirit that I could trust that even if Cole were to take his life, God would reconcile even that.” God would reconcile it. Not me.“

    Thank you for sharing your journey of faith with all of us. The truth you shared here is the truth the enemy wants us to miss, but you have grabbed hold of it and are living it and for that I am truly grateful!

    Love you!
    Kim

    • What a beautiful expectation to have – to hear a word about God’s character. I am so glad you found one! It is a hard truth to grasp but I think it will being such freedom if we can learn to walk in it. Thank you so much for adding to the conversation. Love you!

  3. I didn’t know any of what you just sent in your blog, thank you. So grateful you had the opportunities to talk with Cole, and the revelation of God’s presence, grace and purpose in it all. Please take a couple photos of Sunday at the beach – and we’ll all experience a deeper and richer celebration of Easter/resurrection.

    All my love, Dad

    On Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 2:46 PM where waves grow sweet wrote:

    > karanoel posted: “My worst fear has come to pass. Cole is gone. He took > his life yesterday. I keep waiting to wake up; hoping it is some awful > dream that will be over soon. But it would seem that it is real and all the > surrender has led to this point – of truly handing him” >

    • I didn’t realize you didn’t know this. I plan on writing down soon all the Lord has spoken along this journey as an encouragement to me and our family. We will try to get some pictures on Sunday. I really feel like the lord promoted me to do it at this time so I know there will be grace and it will be richly celebratory, even in the sadness. See you soon. Xoxo

  4. Dear Kara, this post—what you spoke to the Lord, “Have I ever – even once – squandered your trust?”… “So do you think that I would squander it now, when you have entrusted me with your most precious gift?” was like the Lord was speaking to me. Thank you for sharing your heart with us; you’re speaking to many of us. Our Lord is using you to comfort us as He teaches us about Himself through your life. Thank you. Praying for you as you release Cole’s ashes to the Lord this Resurrection Sunday. Maria

    • Maria, I love the way God uses us to share His heart with each other. It is such a beautiful thing! Thank you for your encouraging words and especially for the prayer for Sunday. I am so grateful.

  5. I’m so sorry Kara for your great loss from this world that we know. Words and thought certainly escape us to understand why things happen the way they do. You share so beautifully though of your experience, allowing God to help others who may experience similar situations. May God grant you amazing peace, comfort and strength during these trying times and provide the clarity you need in the days ahead.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! It is my hope and prayer that God would use my life to help others as he has used so many others to help me along on this journey. I receive with an open heart every bit of peace, comfort, strength and clarity God wants to send my way. Thank you for that blessing. All the best to you, Kara

  6. Love and prayers, Kara, that your mission to see something worthy come from all that pain will be fulfilled beyond what you can even imagine.

    • Thank you so much Mitch. Even though I feel like I’m standing with expectation on God’s character to do amazing things through all this, I probably have no scope of imagination for the fullness of it because that seems to be the way God rolls. 😄 I also want to thank you for the truth and hope and humor you share on your blog. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to me.


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