John 3:16 was probably the first bible verse I memorized, as is the case for most children. I'll admit that as a child, I really didn't fully grasp the meaning. Honestly, the verse didn't have the same impact and meaning to me as it does now that I've lost Austin.
I left Austin's grave one day deep in prayer, searching for help and hope and answers. For whatever reason, that simple scripture entered my mind. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." For the first time I realized all that God had done for us - for me. I realized what a true sacrifice it was. And I realized that he truly did understand my pain. It spoke volumes to me.
Only someone who has a lost a child can really understand the depth of grief and pain you experience. It is unlike any other loss you will face, there are no words. I thought back to the early days, once the shock had passed, when I felt so alone crying in Austin's bed. I screamed and cried and prayed and felt nobody heard me. I felt God had left me. But this verse made me realize how much he was there and has been there for me throughout. He knowingly sent his child to die, fully aware of the pain it would cause them both, to save the world. That is amazing love!
And as much as this new found realization has helped me the past few weeks, it doesn't make the pain of losing Austin go away. It still hurts with every breath and I still miss him every moment. I don't understand (or even agree) that Austin had to leave so soon. But I trust that God had a plan in it and I have to believe there was a good purpose to Austin passing so young.
I remember saying to someone early on how much I prayed the night we lost Austin. I never prayed harder, more deeply, urgently, sincerely than that night. I didn't understand why he didn't hear me, why my prayers weren't answered. And they said, "Do you ever think that God could have been using Austin in your life to strengthen your faith?" I had to turn away from that for some time. I still struggle with it. Sometimes it makes me angry, to think that I had to lose my child to become closer to God.
I still don't know the true reason(s) and won't until my time here is done but I feel God and Austin pushing me forward. I have to hope that his legacy is meant to inspire and lead MANY to Christ, whether to strengthen what was already there or to bring those lost to him. What a wonderful legacy that would be!
As I've shared before, Austin became a Christian very early in life. He was proud to be a Christian and loved God. I can't think of any better tribute to him than to lead others down that path. I know nothing would make him prouder.
Austin loved to throw a good party. He enjoyed nothing more than to have friends and family over. He'd be first at the door, to open it with a wide smile that greeted you hello and welcomed you in. It was followed by those wonderful hugs only he could give. I know that when my time on Earth ends, he'll be the first to greet me with open arms. And I can't wait for that day. I know he'll be there for each of us he loved so much, happy to welcome us home.
If you don't know God and how powerful his love can be, I encourage you to find him. Open your heart and ask him in. You don't have to pray any special prayer or say a certain scripture, just confess your sins and ask God to take control of your life. Doing so will change you forever! And when your days on Earth are through, you'll see my smiling boy on the other side, with his arms open and ready to welcome you in. I know he is anxiously at Heaven's door, planning one terrific homecoming party for us all. I hope you accept his invitation!