This is a very bitter sweet time in my life. May 15th brought overwhelming joy with the birth of my third child -Ezra Jos Wakeland, while May 16th brought much sadness with the death of my grandmother Melba Jo Wakeland. A whirlwind of emotion has cirlcled me as I have driven back and forth from one hospital to the other. It was very hard for me as the obvious need to be with my wife during childbirth pulled from one direction while the deep seeded family devotion and need to be with my dad pulled from the other. As always though, God provided the grace needed to make it through.
While I was processing all the feelings this morning I sent a text to my friend and pastor thanking the community of faith I am a part of for their prayers. As I wrote, I began to cry and decided that I needed to take a walk and talk to God a little myself.
My walk brought me to a glass door that looked like it led to a small garden area that would be just right for the occasion. On the door it said, Atrium Entry - "This is Not a Fire Exit." I read the sign as I walked outside, then I found a nice bench to sit on and began to pray. So many of my prayers begin with "God, I don't really know what's going on right now, but I need to be near you if I'm going to have enough strength and wisdom to lead my family through this. As I shared my obvious weakness with the God of the universe He began to comfort me as He always does. He quickly reminded me that the legacy Grandma left was a strong one that would last, and that she is now enjoying perfect peace with Him. I raised my tear soaked cheeks from my hands and looked up at all the windows surrounding me. I sat alone in the atrium, but there were many windows around me that led to offices, recovery rooms, and a small cafe. The windows were reflective and tinted so I couldn't tell if anyone was watching me or not. Not surprisingly, God used the situation to teach a little truth. My vision was blurred from the tears, but God turned my attention back to the glass door. Atrium Entry - "This is Not a Fire Exit." He reminded me that there are so many people in this world that in the midst of a fire (like loosing a loved one) don't know where to run. If someone running to save their life from a fire ended up going out that door they would be trapped with a burning building on all sides. Many of the hurting around us don't know where to run. It is such a great privilage to be able to run to the gentle, refreshing God that brings peace and safety in the midst of fire. I knew as I sat there that I was not alone, but some people still live in the illusion that they are by themselves in the atrium, tear soaked cheeks, and nobody to comfort and guide them. Even though that just through the windows there are many that could comfort them, and all around them is a God that gives perfect peace.