This weekend, I'm grieving the earthly loss of a wonderful man of God (and just an all-around wonderful man), Larry Dimond, long-time missionary to Ireland and Zimbabwe, who passed from this world last night, Friday, October 21.
I know that Heaven is his gain and that Larry is lost in the glory of being in God's presence.
I know that.
I rejoice in that part.
But my heart aches for his beautiful wife, Ann, and his two adult children. Hannah and John Michael, and their spouses, Philip and Candace, and for his granddaughter, Haddie Ann. They are left behind (for now) to try to live a life without the man who was everything to their family.
That hurts my heart.
Yet, I know that Larry was not "everything," because their everything is really found in Jesus. I'm so grateful for this reality and that He can comfort them like no man can.
All I can offer to them is my profound sorrow and my profound joy.
It doesn't feel like it's enough.
But I know it's the only thing I can give...and it's the only thing they need to hear right now.
Yesterday, I sat down and wrote something for Larry. At that point, I didn't know where Larry's state of mind was and whether it was appropriate for it to be read to him. But, I sent it off to my father (who flew out to be there at the family's request), and asked him to share it at his discretion.
I'm not sure if Larry ever "heard" my words here on earth (not that it really matters), but I know that he can now. If you will allow it, I'd like to share them here...it's my own way of expressing my love for him and saying goodbye.
Before I do, I want to share this beautiful song a friend shared on her blog this morning. It perfectly sums up what I am feeling right now. May it minister to you as you read along.
I have been thinking about you, Ann, Hannah, John Michael and the rest of the family so much the last few days. I hope it goes without saying that I have been praying for you and reflecting over the last twenty years that our families have known each other.
My thoughts keep coming back to one moment in particular -- maybe you remember…
It was 1997, and you guys were home on furlough. I was a 24-year old missionary associate who was home for her Christmas and her younger sister’s wedding a few weeks later.
I was lonely.
My position required me to live alone in an apartment far away from the other American missionaries. Unlike the position I had before in Belgium, there was no “fun and sassy” single scene to fill up my days and evenings.
It was mostly just me and the Lord.
Seeing my sister getting ready to be married was a privilege, but it also brought up some real struggles and fears for me.
The nice Christian man that I had been interested in had zero interest in me. Even worse, there seemed to be no prospects at all where I was. I started to wonder if I was destined to be an unmarried cat-lady for the rest of my life. And it freaked me out.
I wanted to wait for “God’s perfect choice,” but He didn’t seem to be too concerned about delivering him to me.
So, there I was….December 1997, at the altar at Northeast Assembly, bawling my eyes out and begging God to deliver me from my singleness, when you came over to pray for me.
You put your hands on my shoulders and prayed a lot of things…you blessed the missionary work I was doing in Greece; you thanked God for my life; and then you stopped.
You paused for a minute and started praying about my loneliness and desire for companionship. You prayed about trusting God for his perfect will and timing. You prayed that “although there is a season of singleness,” it would not always be the case. You asked God to help me walk through that season to the other side.
That night, I surrendered my dream and desire to be married. I knew I had to do it. I cried bitter and broken tears, but I did it. I walked back up that aisle lighter.
We even talked about it some when we came and stayed the night at the condo you guys rented up at Shaver Lake. You were so encouraging.
But little did we both know that a few weeks later, I would casually be introduced to a friend’s brother --- and nothing would ever be the same for me again.
I went back to Greece, and he went back to Oregon. We corresponded. We shared our lives. Eventually, we realized that we were in love. And after we both spent time in prayer seeking the Lord about it, we decided to marry. At some point between love and marriage, Rylie shared a song that he loved by Christian singer/songwriter, Wes King, called “In Time.”
In it, King sings about being in love, but wanting it to be in God’s timing. In the bridge, the leading up swell into the beautiful declaration of this, he sings,
“There must be a season of singleness, but there’s a help through this loneliness....these are times for us to learn…”
When I heard those lyrics…thousands of miles from home and from that night at the altar with you…I felt God’s hand on my shoulders.
He had indeed walked with me through the season of singleness in my life and through the other side. He used a phrase in a song – a phrase that you had prayed over me -- as another confirmation of His will for my life with Rylie.
You are part of our love story.
And for that I will be eternally grateful.
As I think of you and your current struggle for your very life, I can’t help but think of that sandy-haired, teddy bear of man holding my shoulders and encouraging me to trust God when all hope seemed to be lost.
It’s what I would say to you now…a sweet reminder of something you already know…that God walks with us through all seasons of our lives -- the ones of abundance and the ones of desolation.
He is as much in those times of grief and despair (and I would say even more so) as He is in the fullness of time.
May He be so close to you…yes, closer than a lover. I know He is faithfully walking with you through this season to the other side.
Thank you for being available and obedient to the voice of the Lord both then, now and always.