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It’s Been Thirteen Years

Posted on: August 6th, 2013 by Laurie Coombs 6 Comments

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My dad died thirteen years ago yesterday. It’s hard to believe thirteen years have passed.

It’s all still a bit surreal.

My life seems to be somewhat of a paradox. Tragedy weaves throughout the storyline of my life, yet God has given me a good life––full of many joys, many blessings, and yes, much heartache.

Honestly, I miss my dad. I think I always will. But my dad’s absence is always a bit more real on the anniversary of his death.

Three years ago, on August 5th, I found myself writing my fourth letter to Anthony. All doors had closed. I wasn’t going to be able to visit him in prison as I was hoping to. Yet, I was committed to pursuing forgiveness and peace through our correspondence.

In my letter, I wrote:

Ironically, I’m writing you on the tenth anniversary of my dad’s death. While in a way, it does get easier over time, there are wounds that run deep and have effected my entire being. I think God has me on the path in order to heal those wounds. I’m coming to a place of peace and forgiveness that can only be done through our Lord Jesus Christ. Though I’m not quite there yet, I believe that God will bring me to that point someday.

God, of course, did bring me peace with my past and granted me the grace I needed to forgive a few months later.

And now, after three years passed, I once again find a letter in my hand. But this time, it’s from Anthony, and it’s dripping with God’s grace.

In this most recent letter, Anthony tells me about his struggle with sharing the gospel with fellow prisoners. He tells me about one man, particularly moved by our testimony, who was baptized four weeks ago. He shares some his struggles, his prayers. And he even tells me he had the opportunity to preach last week. And then Anthony gives me a little encouragement about our adoption (as we’ve been feeling a bit discouraged lately). He says:

It will happen. It’s like you said, Satan will throw everything at you to stop it. He doesn’t want Christians raising Christians! I don’t mean to hurt you but look what he did with my family. He tore it apart…BUT what he meant for evil God used to glorify Himself! Your dad was saved, you were saved, and hopefully our story will save others…

This, my dear friends, is God’s grace at work. Jesus has, indeed, turned this thing around. It’s what He does. We do have an adversary who seeks to devour, but what what Satan means for evil, God is sure to use for good.

Jesus is our victor. He is our redeemer.

So, each time you’re tempted to question the goodness of God––each time you wonder whether or not the situation before you will turn out––remember who our God is. Remember that He is a God who accomplishes the impossible.

And if you’re dealing with tragedy today, I’d like to encourage you. It does get easier, and Jesus will redeem your pain the moment you come to him.

So, another year has passed. My dad’s absence continues to sadden my heart. Yet, I know God has and will continue to weave this tragedy into something even more beautiful and radiant than we can imagine. And it is my hope and life’s goal to see Jesus glorified in the process.

What area in your life do you hope to see God’s redeem? Share in the comments

  • Mark Allman

    Laurie,

    Beautiful words here; “Yet, I know God has and will continue to weave this tragedy into something even more beautiful and radiant than we can imagine.”

    I do not ever want to “get over” someone I love. I may deal with them being gone better over time but love will never allow them to be gotten over.

    • Absolutely, Mark. That’s exactly where i’m at. Thank you for putting it into words.

  • Karen

    Laurie – I will pray for you today. My dad was murdered 44 years ago, and that anniversary date is still a tough one for me! I will always miss my dad, but that’s because I loved him so much. Your story is an awesome one and I love how God can take something so tragic and horrible and use it for His purposes – and He is doing that because you made yourself His willing servant. I was attempting to visit the man who killed my dad also but was not allowed because he had a parole hearing coming up. I wanted to share the gospel with him and tell him I had forgiven him. I was told to wait until that was over. Before that happened, the Maryland Court of Appeals released 200 convicted murderers and he was one of them. You probably remember my previous posts about this. So far he has not given any hint of remorse, and even refused a Welcome Back pack that I attempted to send through a Prison Ministry. I may not get a chance to see him transform, but I am working on getting started in a Prison Ministry so that I can see other inmates give their lives over to our Savior and begin to minister behind bars. God can always take bad things and use them for good. I don’t want my dad’s death to be in vain. I’m sure your earthly father and your Heavenly one are both smiling at you.

    • Thank you, Karen!

      I’ll be praying for the man who murdered your dad as well. It must have been discouraging to hear that he rejected your Welcome Back pack. I was so hopeful about this, as I’m sure you were. But truly, no one’s too far for God to reach. Perhaps the grace you’ve shown him will be one of many seeds needed for him to come to know Jesus.

      I, too, feel drawn toward prison ministry, but I haven’t a clue how to start. I do believe God will show me when the time is right. Just last week, in fact, I received a letter from Anthony who gave me the name and number of a previous inmate/pastor who was released and does prison ministry. So, we’ll see where Jesus leads.

      Karen, if you don’t mind my asking, what part of the country do you live in?

      Well, anyway, I will continue to pray. And keep me updated!

      Thank you.

      • Karen

        I live in Baltimore, Maryland. I applied to an organization called Prison Fellowship about two years ago. It was founded by Chuck Colson, who passed away about a year or so ago. It is a nation-wide ministry. I had to get references and take an online training program, but when I finished all of that they never called me. I emailed them several times. I finally threw away the training manual a few months ago because I was so disappointed and I guess “pouting” a little lol!! Not a month later, everything happened with the inmates being released. In my impact statement at the hearing, I told the man that I believed God closed the doors to Prison Ministry to me because He knew all of this was coming and He first wanted me to witness in a public courtroom rather than in a prison. Then I got the email from Prison Fellowship about the backpacks for released inmates, and two days ago a letter saying the organization has been in transition since Chuck Colson passed away, and to call or email them if I still wanted to volunteer. God always works things out His way! I still don’t know if there will be a place for me to serve, but I am going to email them back and see what happens. Since all of this happened with the inmates being released, I have felt torn between Prison Ministry and working for Victims Rights. I guess I can do both. Sometimes it feels like one contradicts the other. I am working with the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center to try to get all of the families affected by the ruling that released 100 murderers together. I want a group of us to meet with the Court of Appeals, who allowed this, and have our voices heard. When I think about that, I find myself getting angry again, which is not a good thing, but it’s important. I am waiting to see where God takes all of this.

        • Well, looks like you’re on the other side of the country. I was thinking it would be interesting if we lived by one another.

          I’ve heard of Prison Fellowship and have considered volunteering with them. Perhaps I will someday.

          Honestly, I don’t think prison ministries and victim rights contradict one another. I think you would be in a very good position to minister to both groups, and perhaps even become a bridge to some leading them to forgiveness and reconciliation.

          Your anger is understandable. But as you know, it’s important to take our anger to God, allowing Him to give us understanding and perspective we lack on our own.

          So happy to hear you’re so open to being used by God! What a blessing you are.