When one we love dies, it is not unusual to feel separated from God, at least for a while. Suddenly adrift in our life, we feel unmoored from all that is familiar. Often we are lukewarm about our faith, either unwilling or unable to pray and seek God,I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15).

   The experience of grief is often characterized by a series of emotional interludes. At different times, in different ways, the emotions of grief demand our attention. When we grieve, we live through interludes of sadness, anger, fear, and uncertainty. As we experience the emotional interludes of grief, it is not unusual to feel detached, isolated, and indifferent to life in general and, more particularly, to our own life. Without our loved one, we do not know who we are, where we are, or where we are going. Grief distorts our sense of place in the world.         

   When we find ourself adrift, for a while we float along with little direction. In this strange, unfamiliar place of heart and soul it seems almost impossible to get our bearings. We follow trends, fads, fakes, and sometimes fiends. We navigate life without a north star to direct us to the place in life that God would have us be, “Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1)

   We leave the shore of close relationship with God in a small boat of our own making. We have with us neither provisions nor phone. We are separated, cut off, as it were, from the things of this world that sustain us. We have no rudder to steer us, no bucket to bail, no sail to move us along. We have only a single wooden paddle but no idea how to use it. We row furiously but seem to go nowhere. When we are adrift, there is no steady tide that dictates the ebb and flow of our life. Rather we encounter headwinds—the challenges of life after the death of one we love—that toss our boat with the power of a force nine gale.

   On the horizon there is a large steamship that set sail at the same time we departed from the shore. With no destination, we bob along, adrift in our little boat, until one day we concede that we are lost. At last we realize that the steamship has travelled parallel to our wandering path all the while, watching us, watching over us. When we are adrift and separated from God, the watchful presence of God will not allow us to drown or be overcome by the deceptions of this world.Though we may lose sight of God, God never loses sight of us. At last we are rescued from ourself by the lifeline of God’s grace. We climb on board, and find safety and comfort in the One who is at the helm of our life.

   Some went down to the sea in ships,
   doing business on the mighty waters;
   they saw the deeds of the Lord,
   his wondrous works in the deep.
   or he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
   which lifted up the waves of the sea.
   They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
   their courage melted away in their calamity;
   they reeled and staggered like drunkards
   and were at their wits’ end.
   Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
   and he brought them out from their distress;
   he made the storm be still,
   and the waves of the sea were hushed.
   Then they were glad because they had quiet,
   and he brought them to their desired haven.
   Psalm 107:23-30

   Since the beginning of creation, the power and presence of God have been tried and tested by humankind. When we are adrift, we either sink, swim, or survive, depending on our understanding of God’s grace and our willingness to receive it, “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care if we perish?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you no faith? And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:35-41 RSV).

   Who then is this? It is the God of all grace who never leaves, never forsakes us, and never lets us go.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.      
Psalm 9:10


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