Don’t get your hopes up.
I still cry.
I still struggle.
I still wrestle with loss.
Last month’s five-year anniversary of the day that changed our lives forever was particularly hard.
Honestly? I am already dreading the 27th of this month. That is Cole’s birthday. He would have been twenty-seven. I miss him so.
There is a place in my heart that will always be just a bit raw over our losses. I grieve regularly for my children and their pain.
In some respects, I will always have unanswered questions–at least on this side of the vale.
Believe it or not, sometimes my questions have much less to do with tragedy and more with life itself.`
Scripture often affirms that which we may not always quite understand or comprehend.
In this case specifically, I am reminded of the following descriptions of King David:
But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:14
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ Acts 13:22
I read those verses and confess: I sometimes struggle to understand how this could be true.
David, a man after God’s own heart?
Obviously that sentiment is positively affirmed by scripture. And just as obviously, I must accept it while I try to understand it.
When I look at David’s life, I see it through some dark and dirty lenses—my own as well as his.
He was a man of mistakes. I am a man of mistakes. Some of David’s, like his affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband Uriah, are stupendously ugly. I’d rather not have to confess all of my ugliness, but ugly I own in multiple shapes and fashions. When you look at David’s family it becomes readily apparent that he would have never won the Father of the Year award. In solidarity, I have made more than my fair share of parenting gaffes and blunders.
So while freely acknowledging the sometimes strident nature of his failures and sins, still God says he was a man after His own heart.
How? How could a man like David be afforded such a gracious epithet?
Better yet, how can I? How can you? Is there any real hope for those of us who own an error filled life?
Yes, there is hope. No matter how dark the day, no matter how messed up the occasion, there is hope. And the answer to how may not be as far off as you might suppose.
These are David’s words: Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (Psalm 16:1-2)
David recognized the one true source of protection—the only place of real refuge. David understood that without God he was nothing. And David, in spite of his epic flaws and failures, longed most of all to know and be known by God.
Although not written during David’s time, I suspect David instinctively knew the truth of Keith Green’s song, “My Eyes Are Dry.”
My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to You and dead to me
But what can be done
For an old heart like mine
Soften it up
With oil and wine
The oil is You, Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew
With the wine of Your Blood
May God soften my heart. May God soften yours. And in the softening may we be shaped, formed, and fashioned in such a way as to become a man, a woman after God’s own heart.
I long for the heart of God.
How about you?
Les Ferguson, Jr.
Madison/ Ridgeland, MS