As I write this, it’s been exactly one month since Kimberly went to be with our Lord.
In Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus, quoting Genesis 2:24, said,
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew19:4-6
In marriage, God makes two become one. Kimberly and I became one on October 11, 1997. This October would have been our 20th anniversary. We were married for almost 13 years before we had our first child. We truly knew each other, often better than we knew ourselves. We had each other’s backs. We each wanted to hear what the other was thinking, and each of us wanted to know what the other thought about what we were thinking. We wanted to grow closer to Jesus together and raise our kids to do the same.
Our marriage was far from perfect, but we were one. I miss her more than I imagined was possible.
It’s difficult to write this. Half of me has left this world and talking about her brings to mind all of the things we will no longer be able to do together. All of our hopes and dreams and plans. Dozens of times each day I see or read or hear something I know she’d be interested in hearing about too, but she’s no longer there for me to tell. There are so many little things the kids say or do that no one else cares about on the level that parents do, and I can no longer share those things with her.
We spoke often, both before and after her diagnosis, about how we had both felt a call to share the love of Jesus with others in a more tangible way. We liked to imagine all of the things we could do together for His kingdom in the future if she was healed. I prayed and fasted and begged God to make that happen. So did hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others. More than a few felt that God’s Spirit had revealed to them that she would be healed. Based on many things that had happened to us since her diagnosis, Kimberly and I also had great hope for a miraculous healing.
As hard as it is to accept, that wasn’t in God’s plan.
I’ve asked Him why not? Why didn’t He heal her? She was only 43 years old. We have three young children who need their mom. She was a respected, grace-filled, Christian woman in a position to use her healing story to reach a lot of people for Jesus. It made all kinds of sense for God to heal her body, but it wasn’t in His plan.
I don’t have an answer. If I am honest with myself and with God, I would say I am disappointed in Him that He didn’t come through. My faith has been bruised. I still believe He can and does heal, but I don’t feel like praying for healing for others. I’m more uncertain about what it means to hear and know when God’s Spirit is speaking to us.
If my faith was based solely on feelings and emotion, I am certain it would be more than bruised. It would be broken, just as I feel broken.
My faith has been bruised, but it is not broken. Like Kimberly’s was, my faith is based on more than emotion. It is also rooted in evidence for the existence of God, historical support for the resurrection of Jesus, and good reasons to believe the Bible is God’s revealed word to us. It is based on experiences of Him, things He’s done, and His peace in our lives.
I know God exists and I continue to trust Him. He has always been faithful to me. He knows more than I can possibly comprehend about the world He created and why things happen the way they do. Kimberly used to always say, “God is not a genie!” Though we prayed and hoped for healing, Kimberly and I knew that God doesn’t answer every prayer in the way we want Him to. Sometimes His plans don’t make any sense to us.
He’s not a genie that grants wishes, but he does promise to be with us. He loved us enough to willingly suffer for us in the person of Jesus Christ. He gives us strength, courage, forgiveness, rest, joy, comfort, and peace. I can’t truly muster up any of those things myself. When I try, I might be able to fool others and maybe even fool myself, but the small measure of those things that has truly been given to me has all come from Him.
One of the key verses for Well Christian Woman is something Jesus said to his disciples in John 16:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
As Jesus taught we would, Kimberly and I and the kids have experienced trouble in this world. At every turn, though, with hospitalizations, surgeries, chemotherapy, and now as the kids and I gradually put the pieces of our lives back together, we have experienced His peace. We still hurt and cry and wonder what we’re going to do without her, but He is here with us in the here and now… and only in Him and in His ‘overcoming of this world’ is our hope of reunion with Kimberly in the future.
Over the past year and a half, Kimberly and I often talked about how difficult it would be to go through what we were going through if we didn’t have hope in a real eternal future. Now that she’s gone, that is even more true for the kids and me. Those of you who knew Kimberly know that she wasn’t prone to weak or wishful thinking. Our hope is not in a comforting idea, it is a hope for something real.
While she was still with us, despite her pain, inability to do the things she loved, and the uncertainty of her earthly future, Kimberly prayed every day for those of you who don’t have the same hope that she had. Many of you she loved and prayed for by name. She prayed that you would see what Jesus had for you so you could experience His peace here and now, and spend a joyous eternity with Him.
I can’t explain how much I miss her. If it wasn’t for the kids, and the fact that I believe God still has plans for us here, I would be praying constantly that I could leave this world and join Kimberly right now. I have a better understanding of why she often talked about what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Philippians 1:20-24
There were many days over the last 18 months that she felt she wanted to ‘depart to be with Christ‘, but knew that He still had things for her to do here first. One of those things was to pray for and tell those she loved that Jesus could do for them what He had done for her.
On August 20th, Her work here was done. I was with her and held her hand as her body died and her spirit departed to be with Him. I thank Jesus that she has been healed. She is whole. He has wiped the tears from her eyes and she is no longer in pain.
Though Kimberly can no longer share her thoughts with you, some of her friends who have been touched by her life are excited to continue her work on Well Christian Woman. She had lots of plans to grow and touch more people through her ministry and we will do our best to make sure she still can. Please continue to read, watch, listen, share, comment and bear with us as we transition.
It was Jesus who helped Kimberly navigate this world with grace and love in the way that she did. The way we were intended to. No matter what we are going through, it is Jesus who can change us, give us peace and joy and strength, reconcile us with God, and give us an eternal future. We all need Jesus, both for today and for tomorrow. Our prayer is that wherever you are in your life’s journey, you allow Jesus to draw you closer to Him today.