Paula and I want to express to all of you how grateful we are for the incredible outpouring of love over the loss of our son, Josiah David. You have ministered to us in countless ways as you have shared our burden and grief. We had a beautiful funeral on Saturday and during the service Rev. Terry Yancey, District Superintendent of the Kansas District of the Assemblies of God shared a journal entry that Paula had written in her journal five years ago! It has ministered to us in many ways, and many of you have expressed that you also were touched deeply by these words. We wanted to make them available to all of you, that you too may be encouraged by them. with heartfelt love and gratitude - Jerry and Paula.
This morning I ministered in Scott City. At lunch with the pastors, the idea came to me to go and visit the cemetery on my way out of town. They told me where it was and I went. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon – clear skies, pleasantly warm but a cool breeze, and birds singing everywhere. The grass was green from the recent rains. There was such a peacefulness there! I wanted to find Stephanie Lynn’s grave, but upon seeing how large the cemetery was, doubted if I could ever locate it. I called mom and dad (remarkably, phone coverage in that remote area!), and dad gave me an idea of the general area, but he wasn’t able to be very specific. I headed that direction, parked under a shade tree, and approached a section of graves to see if they were in the children’s section. Amazingly, the very first stone that I came upon and read, was Stephanies’!
All I can say is, I felt a strange and special connection to my “big, little sister”, one whom I never met. I didn’t want to leave that place, it was just so serene, and I felt I was supposed to be there. Kneeling beside her headstone, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Lord had taken her in order to make a place for Rhonda. Did the Lord choose to bring Stephanie straight home, because there was another baby girl, who didn’t have a home, and who would need all the love and grace and prayer that Ron and Pauleta could give her? And isn’t the exchange of those lives another expression of God’s design to bring Rhonda into His wholeness?
I could just imagine a 24 year old Pauleta and 28 year old Ron, kneeling there at the headstone, on a freezing January day, devastated. How could they have known that 40 years later, they would hold 3 daughters in their hearts, and 3 grandchildren? At that moment, their hopes and dreams were crushed and the future was far away.
That tiny baby, was as a seed planted in the ground. Her life, of course, was never buried – it was released into the arms of God. What was buried in the cold ground that winter was a mother and father’s hopes and dreams. They buried joy, and love – their very hearts!—but they buried in God. And in the perfect and unfailing heart of God, every seed planted there must spring to life again. It was a very bad winter, but what a springtime, what a summer, what a harvest! In a lifetime of raising a family and shepherding God’s flock—what joy, trust, and love has flourished in those deeply plowed hearts.
Grace me, Lord, to bury every disappointment, every loss in You. To accept and embrace what You do and what You don’t do, what you give and what you take away. And to respond in faith, recognizing that with You, the resurrection far surpasses the natural life; the harvest greatly exceeds the seed planted; the latter is greater than the former.
God spoke to me today, in the stillness of a cemetery, through my baby sister. He reminded me, that though life can be desperate at times, seasons change. Things are not always as they seem. His ways are infinitely higher than ours. And He is causing all things to work together – and accomplish His work of reconciliation, restoration, and perfection. Hallelujah!