Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Claire...

OK, here goes; I've been building up to writing this for some time now, and it's going to take me a while to get it right - because I would like God to be glorified in what I say, instead using it as an opportunity to gratify my frequently self-piteous nature! Thank you for taking the time to read what might well be a clumsy, highly personal account of a very tough time in my life...

6 years ago to the day, my beautiful sister Claire died.

It was a Tuesday, same as today. I'll never forget the phone call, I can remember every single word Mum spoke and my choking responses to something that, in an instant, had changed our lives forever... My world stopped, froze, the disbelief that I could lose someone so close, so soon, too suffocating for words.


Coming off the phone, I buried my face in my 3-month-old baby's neck and sobbed. I was completely overwhelmed by the feeling that I would never be able to get over this, that I 'couldn't do this', going through the agony of grieving for a sibling and close friend who was never supposed to die so young..."I'm not strong enough for this Lord!", I cried to Him.

Now, can I pause for a couple of minutes?

Before I go on, I would love to try and describe this most extraordinarily special human-being, who happened to be my sister.


Claire was a generous, vibrant, hilarious 24 year-old who lived life at 200mph. In the last 5 years of her life, she did more travelling than many people would do in a lifetime, studied at 4 different universities in 3 different countries, and had hundreds of friends and acquaintances from all around the world...

She was small but by no means petite, and had a 'larger-than-life' personality as well as an infectious love of life in all its fullness.

She was a deeply mature and spiritual woman, a truth-seeker, and a lover of God, on a journey to discover more of His ways and His goodness; she had an openness of mind that was quite often uncomfortable, and at the very least, rather challenging and humbling!

She had in fact just finished the first term of a degree at Durham university which would have led her into ministry in the Church of England; she had incidentally also met the love of her life and was, we think, secretly engaged to him...She was blissfully happy and fulfilled in her life, although not always contented, or satisfied with 'sitting still'!

And so in many ways, Claire's life was fuller, richer, more fascinating, more fun and more exciting than the lives of any other 24-yr-old I've ever known.

I hope this gives a little insight into my sister's personality and soul; there's SO much more I'd like to say, and that I could say, but won't because I don't have the energy or the courage to dig too much deeper, and also because I can't gauge how much of it would actually be of interest or benefit to anyone but me.

So. Where was I?

"I'm not strong enough...!" - or am I??

The thing is, God, in His wisdom, knew that it was time for Claire to come home. Her work on earth was 'done', and He wanted her back...Even from the very first minutes and hours of grief, we as a family knew God's love, peace and purpose for us and in a strange way knew that it was part of His plan that Claire should leave us when she did. That certainty has never left me; and to this day I am convinced that the turmoil and suffering that I, and my parents and my three brothers went through has contributed to the transformation of relationships and hearts, to immense (and accelerated) growth, and, for me at least, to closer intimacy with my Heavenly Father.

I really believe in God's timing in our lives. He has ultimate control of when life begins and when it ends. He IS, in fact, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. The question is, am I prepared to surrender every waking hour to his control, to His plans for my life, and what am I doing in order to not waste any of the time that He has in His book for me??

I learnt a lot from Claire. For example, procrastination is really unhelpful and ungodly, and life is to be LIVED, now, to the full and to God's glory and to serve others...

I have also learnt that it's no use making too many plans, too early in advance. God has so much in store for me that I will not see until it's 'there'! His ways are not my ways and far be it from me to try and fathom His understanding.

Finally I think I have discovered my calling, as I travelled through suffering and loss and grief and encountered hope and joy and peace and love along the way; I think the Lord has this calling for many if not all of us who have suffered and suffer still...:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach the good news to the poor
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to (...) comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion -
to bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning
and a garment of praise instead of despair."
(Isaiah 61v1-3)

-And, YES, I am 'strong enough' - in Him.

13 comments:

  1. Hi Rach,
    So brave of you to be so candid. You're an inspiration xxxxx

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  2. mmm, thanks em. I think writing this has been tough, but also a real release...
    You, by the way, are also an inspiration :-)

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  3. Wow, that must have been hard to write, but thank you for sharing.
    God's timing is fantastic, I guess we just don't get it until we look back it it afterwards. I've seen that over the last year with my sjob situation - s while back i wrote a post called 'I don't find jobs, they find me' and it basically summed up how amazing God's been to me in those situations :-)

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  4. Hey Debs, thanks for 'stopping by', and for reading and responding :-)
    I will have a read of your post at some point tomorrow.
    God bles xx

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  5. I wrote the post I was talking about a while ago, so to save you trawling through my archives here's the link http://debbiemonster.blogspot.com/2006/10/proof-that-i-dont-find-jobs-they-find.htm

    God bless :-)

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. ((Rachel)),

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us all...a beautiful tribute to your sister.

    May the Lord continue to give you His comfort (I'm sure the pain never completely stops), bless you as you relish each moment, and use you to share His heart of compassion with others who are brokenhearted.

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  8. Thank you Rach this post is so beautiful, poignant, vibrant and achly honest, I had to shed some tears of my own...

    I just love the fact that God's strength is made perfect in our weakness, our openess and honesty, so bless you for sharing this...

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  9. thanks Paul, you are such an encourager!
    Yes God is my strength, I can truly say that by experience. And I know that I can get through anything with Him if I let Him carry me through it :-)

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  10. hey Debs
    Don't worry about taking up comment space, it's ok :-)
    Thanks for the link, I copied and pasted it in the end and it took me right there!!
    And had a good little rummage through your blog while I was at it; and can safely say that I was suitably entertained! So thank you! Will be back. x
    Miriam: I feel so blessed by your comment, thank you. I wrote the next post in 'response' to what you said here, so in part it is 'for you'...

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  11. Dear Rach,
    Reading this post reminding me once again of something that I know to be so true, you are an amazing and Godly woman and I consider myself honoured to be counted as one of your friends...His grace is truely sufficient for all our needs...GOd WILL use you to inspire, comfort, build up and restore others...
    Love and Big Hugs
    Tonny
    XXX

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  12. Tonny!! Welcome back!!
    Thank you for reading and responding, it means a lot...
    You guys too are such an inspiration and blessing to many, and through your 'stuff' God is and will continue to encourage, comfort and heal broken people.
    Suffering sucks, but for me it's the only way of really reaching out to folk in a deep way. You can only do that through experience.
    To God be the glory.
    Thanks again for last night btw, it was such FUN :-)
    Love ya xxx

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing all this !!! Cette souffrance ne sort de mon corps que sous forme de larmes...Your words are a great help !!!
    Christo

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