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God Made Visible

I always wanted to find a man who would walk five hundred miles and five hundred more because he wanted to be the man who walked five thousand miles to fall down at my door. I wanted passion and romance and the utter devotion that would show the world how worthy I was of sacrificing for. Then I met Richard. Pragmatic. Sensible. Unlikely to do something silly for the sake of showing off anything to the world.

He was looking for a partner in life from a young age. We were only nineteen, but he was already looking for someone whose dreams for their life would correspond and tie up with what he thought God wanted from him. His heart belonged to God. It was unavailable for manipulation or ownership. I had to decide if I was willing to settle for that.

I did. I married a man who I knew would always be God’s before he was mine. At first, I thought that was less than my teenage dreams of being a goddess to my husband. As the years went on, I discovered that because Richard was God’s, it meant he was not his own. He did not own his own life. He did not put his needs above his responsibilities. He was dead to his own selfishness.

I’m not implying perfection, and he would balk at the insinuation. I am describing a man whose measured choices every single day put those in his care at the centre. He lives for those God entrusts to him - his wife, his children, his church.

Kiara’s friends have been remarkable. From the very first night they never left her. They prayed her out of the woods.

Painting by Julie Smith-Belton depicting Kiara finding her way out of the woods

On Boxing Day, while the adults tried to prepare the children for the loss of the battle, eleven-year-old Amber expressed her frustration. “What is their problem?” They refused to let their friend go. They refused to give up the fight. I had told them to #keephopealive and they followed the battle command even when we thought it was over.

When it looked like Kiara had missed what we had thought was ‘the window of opportunity’ of dying rather than living in a vegetative coma or severely brain-damaged, they remained committed to their friend. Kiara’s organs had recovered from their failure but her brain was not expected to do the same. They were prepared to visit her and love her in the years to come. They were prepared to relearn how to be her friend, whatever her restrictions might be. They knew she might not remember them, but they were going to love her anyway.

Today some of them visit to enjoy the fruit of their prayers. They have done the five thousand miles. They have laid down their lives and their needs for their friend.

Kiara struggles with language still. Heads Up is like the game 30 Seconds - you have to guess the word being explained to you. The girls hang back and let Kiara have a chance to find her words. Even more amazingly, she is aware and let’s them give her extra time in the game. She accepts their help and their patience.

Friendship and partnership in God is nothing like the romance songs, I’ve learned. It’s not about the world seeing that we are worthy of adoration. It’s about the world seeing that God is so beautiful and wonderful and powerful, that he compels his lovers to lay down their own lives for each other the way he first did for us.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

1 John 3:16

I now realise my husband would walk five million miles for me. But he wouldn’t do it just because I’m wonderful. He would do it because his life is not his own. He would do it because he would do absolutely anything to serve the ones God has given him.

In this season he has quietly got on with mourning his daughter, dealing with countless administrative details, creating space and time for me to process and write, sacrificing his preference of wanting to watch Kiara’s minute-by-minute recovery to father and mother our other children, handling and sifting requests to be in touch with Kiara and I. In short, he has been the silent hero. He has laid down his life. He has gone the distance.

He is romantic in many ways, but he’s not silly in his devotion. I prefer the way he loves me than the way I wanted him to. His love is not showy, it’s seldom poetic, but it is pure and it is complete.

Our scripture reading from our wedding was this:

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

1 John 4:12

I don’t want you to compare your marriage to ours. That would be counterproductive. But I do hope that as I speak of my husband’s love, you see God. He is visible in Richard’s daily devotion.

Prayer Requests:

Slie, our dear friend and partner in the gospel, in a coma after childbirth.

Edith’s daughter-in-law, Alexis, who is currently undergoing chemo.

Cindy’s boyfriend, Jose, who has a cough that may indicate lung cancer.

Carla’s daughter, Kassandra, who was in a major car accident.

Paul and Anna’s daughter, Tanya, whose diagnosis is unknown.

Jean’s son, Austin, who is bipolar and currently suicidal.

If I have neglected to include other personal prayer requests, please resend them. I am still learning to manage these things.

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