Although we live in God's world, we operate in different time zones. This geographical influence often pulls us into moments of unthinkable pain, yet, inevitably rescues us from our tears and doubts and delivers us to places of unexpected beauty.
A scripture I heard Sunday led me to that reflection. 2 Peter 3:8 says: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (ESV)." This week, as I commemorate the passing of a friend I never met, that reflection has proved timely.
Two years ago tomorrow, our small Hanover County community suffered a massive broken heart. A 34 year old mother of three - Meg Cross Menzies - was struck and killed by a drunk driver while she was out on a morning run with her husband. The run was part of her routine. Her get the kids off to school before she runs routine. Her spend time with her husband routine. Her Boston Marathon training routine. But what wasn't routine was sharing her training route with an impaired driver losing control of his vehicle. And in an instant, broken routine became broken lives.
I know at that moment, on that one day, Meg's parents and brothers, her children and husband, her closest friends and people who had only admired Meg from a distance for her quiet but indelible spirit, I know they all had to feel like they had entered a day that would never end. They had to feel like the doors of that day slammed shut with the chilling clang of a prison cell door, closing them off from the hope that tomorrows had before then always promised. They undoubtedly felt trapped inside a day that reduced smiles to old photographs, and hugs to suddenly hollow embraces.
All the feelings they must have had on that day make it difficult to understand how God, even though he grieved with them, also smiled. Maybe that's because we approach the stories of our lives with perpetual uncertainty. We have no idea what's written on the pages ahead, or even what the page we're on means in the grand scheme of it all. But that's not the way God reads our stories. Or, I guess I should say, writes them. What happened to Meg and her family on January 13, 2014, was a mere one day page in a thousand year story for God. More importantly, God knows how every single page in that story is connected. He knows they're all bound together to bring good to those who love him.
You see, being God has its advantages. One of them is He spontaneously sees the total assembly of heavenly glory that blooms within the darkest hours of our lives.
The good news is God doesn't completely obstruct us from his view. He may not give us the thousand years view, but with lesser peeks he points us to the divine possibilities waiting out ahead of our heartaches and suffering. Today we have a two year view of Meg's death. Although plenty of tears remain - sleepless nights still steal joy when they can get their hands on it - God has given us glimpses of the the beautiful story He saw in it's entirety the moment Meg left us.
In those glimpses we get to new see communities that never existed. They meet in coffee shops and churches and race courses in the real-life world; they meet by the thousands online daily in the virtual world. A heartbreaking loss has forged unexpected communion.
We see unconditional encouragement. Cheers to cross finish lines. Prayers for healing. Hands leading hands through heavy challenges lightened by the unforeseen courage discovered in unity.
We see people with new found commitments to health and family. People tackling goals they once believed someone else was the best person to tackle them.
We see shared charity and mourning. We feel long distant high fives and unbreakable hugs.
And through all the beauty, the beauty we never could have imagined in the early moments of Meg's passing, we see people confidently pointing to God. People who now see one day of death as a two years miraculous movement. It fills us with awe as we consider Him who sees that day through a thousand years lens. Goosebumps race over us as we imagine the beauty that must provide him of Meg's story. That's why we persistently march on with her legacy, longing to be a bigger part of the journey that will ultimately lead us to an eternal view of Meg's story, and that of every tragedy and heartbreak before her.
It really is true. I believe we live in God's world, but share different time zones. I'm thankful, though, that he occasionally let's us dip our toes in one or two time zone's closer to Him. I'm thankful for the people he's brought into my life as he's allowed me to do so. I pray this continued journey will reveal the beauty he has written in all of our stories, happy and sad endings alike.
And I pray today that God will continue to bless and comfort the Cross and Menzies families, that in their darkest moments, God will allow them to at least briefly share in his thousand years view.