In the Presence of My Savior -

 "I know that you tore the veil....." 

Yesterday after church, I got on a plane and flew 1,840 miles to a place where peace finds me. It's surreal being back here, since I was here the exact same time, for the exact same thing last year. Avery's anniversary of Going Home. I'm still amazed and so very thankful I can be here. It's all the same and yet I feel all so different.

I'm heartbroken and devastated and sometimes I can't even breathe it hurts so much. I grieve for John and Audra and Henry, and I miss being Avery's Aunt Jemmie and I miss holding him in my arms and I miss the memories we would have known, watching him grow up. And now it's been 2 years. Death stings like nothing else. Please keep John and Audra in your prayers, as well as everyone who loved Avery. These days are filled with overwhelmingly sad memories and we ache with them for what will not be, even as we all look forward to, and long for what will glorious day. The sooner, the better, in my honest opinion. 

I feel like everything I could ever write well about this anniversary, I wrote in these posts from last year:
A Wedding by a Glassy Sea  and  Shadow of the Almighty and In Honor of Avery 

I read those posts and feel the weight of sadness and glory all over again. I find myself nodding my head in agreement, as if I'm reading someone else's words and finding great encouragement in them. They are mine, and yet mine to also be blessed by. In this I see God's heart for me in the midst of I did this morning as I rolled over in the realization of what today was, to see light streaming through the window and words of a song I rarely listen to playing in my mind. I know it was the Spirit reminding me, because when something is rarely on my mind, and then comes in that strong, I am more apt to remember there are no coincidences and that God is in the little details.

Which is why it was so special to wake up with "Oceans" by Hillsong running through my mind. In my subconscious, I was singing it, and as the last words filtered in like the light and I opened my eyes to June 2, was to this:

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, 
let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me. 
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger 
in the presence of my Savior." 

And so to the words "In the presence of my Savior",
 I woke up with the early dawn, knowing Avery was in the presence of His Savior, and so was I.

"Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me - 
a prayer to the God of my life." ~ Psalm 42:7-8

 I got up to take some photos of the sunrise...just like 2 years ago. I woke up in the dark, amid desperate prayers and restless sleep, grabbed my camera, walked through the dewy grass, and took pictures of the dawn of the morning that Avery would wake up in a miracle and be completely healed by a powerful God. I took pictures so we would remember.

Except he didn't wake He was completely healed by a powerful God and woke up in the arms of Jesus.

It wasn't what we wanted....and I most likely will never grasp how wonderful it was for Avery until I behold Jesus in all His glory myself.

"Then I'll gaze upon the throne of the King, frozen in my steps. 
And all the questions that I swore I would ask - words just won't come yet." ~ Mercy Me

 It is an agonizing wait filled with grief while we walk these Shadowlands....but we do not walk it alone. Ever.

As I wade through the deep waters of grief and emotions of loss and pain...this is my anchor and mainstay -  that death did not win but Jesus did, that Jesus has gone before me in my grief, and that I rest in the same arms of love that hold Avery. 

Our hearts cry out in grief that it was "far too soon!" to lose Avery, but we trust every single day in the One Who numbers all our days, who says that we were created for a deeper beauty, a better land, another life. We ache for our real Home, the whole earth aches and waits with us for that Day. Jesus Himself longs with us for when all will be made right, every sad thing made untrue by the revealing of His beautiful Story.

And that is what grief and loss and life is every single day for me. It's waking up and reminding myself day in, and day out that the God Who loves us so intensely and deeply has written all our days from before time began, and that when our last day is done, we will be in Heaven forever. 

And it will be the perfect day for us. It was Avery's perfect day. 

Ever since Avery was in Audra's womb, I prayed these verses over him, they became my link to him - 
"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, 
the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." ~ Psalm 139: 16

And that is all of life. No Doctor's error, no "hidden" blood infection, no cancer. There is nothing that does not fall under the category of All Days Written before we were ever born. In the end, Jesus wins
Death does not hold us, we are not silenced by the grave - no matter how we die - Jesus always wins. 

"It was LOVE that set this fragile planet rolling - tilting at our perfect twenty-three.
Molecules and men infused with holy, finding our way around the galaxy. 

And paradise has up and flown away for now, but HOPE still breathes and Truth is always true.
And just when we think it's almost over - LOVE has the final move, LOVE has the final move." ~ Chris Rice

It hit me just a few days ago....that even though it feels like death ripped him away from us, Avery was taken from this world in LOVE. Jesus stooped down in tenderness and carried him away to a far better land. Avery knows the joy of being carried in those everlasting arms, and seeing the One who gave LOVE a name. 

What wonderful, beautiful, baby-laughter-inducing JOY that must be for little A-man.

"Before You gave us life and breath, You numbered all our days. 
You set Your gracious love on us and chose us to be saved.
This fleeting life is passing by with all its joys and pain - 
but we believe to live is Christ and death is gain. "

"And though we grieve for those we love who fall asleep in Christ, 
we know they'll see the Savior's face and gaze into His eyes. 
So now we grieve yet we don't grieve as those who have no hope. 
For just as Jesus rose again, He'll raise His own."

And these are the things I need to get up in the morning and preach to myself, until I am full of the knowledge that He doeth all things well and loves us so deeply that nothing but goodness shall ever come from His hand.

"And now we're longing for the day we'll SEE the Lamb once slain, 
Who saved a countless multitude to glorify His name. 
We're yearning for the wedding feast of Jesus and His Bride,
His nail-scarred hands will finally bring us to His side."

Today is a day for living out the knowledge that in this shadowed day of longing...that this is where the Gospel is proved more true than ever before...I want to close with this chapter I wrote last year...

"It is here that Heaven makes all the difference. 
It is here that as RC Jr. says "Jesus changes everything.".
 It is here that lines come down to a very thin margin, and either it is all true, or it isn't
It is here that the gospel reminds us that this is the middle of the story. 
All behind us is the beginning, we are here in this short breath of life, and then - life forever. 

I remember standing on Tennessee ground on June 9th, 2012,
the day we buried Avery, and telling myself over and over and over -
"He is not here. He is not here. He is not here. He is not here. He is not here. He is not here.". 
Because I knew more than anything in that moment, that Avery was with God. He was not in that beautiful box his daddy made for him. He was not being lowered into the grave. He was not there. He was in the presence of the King of Kings. He was ALIVE, more fully alive than we ever have been!

The most beautiful thing in that moment as I swayed in the wind to keep from falling to my knees was knowing that this was not the end. This was not the end of Avery's life. This is not the end at all."

Thank you, Jesus. 

In the presence of my Savior, and with love always,
~ Jean Marie ~