Jerusalem, Wednesday, 5 April 2006.
A defining moment for me
After walking through the empty tomb at Calvary, we followed the path up to the park benches and sat down with others to discuss what we had seen and await the communion service we would soon experience together.
Throughout my time in Israel, I had been thinking how wonderful it would have been if my late husband could have shared this experience of traveling through the Holy Land—walking through the land where Jesus walked two thousand years ago.
Then my ears perked up. Could it be? Yes; there was a group of people assembled by the open tomb singing “Fairest Lord Jesus”—in German! It was the first German I had heard in Israel, and this happened to be my husband’s favorite hymn. I sang along on the first verse, but by the time they began the second verse the reality of the words and the incident began to well up within the depths of my soul. This group sang all five verses in German—my husband’s native tongue.
It had been a while since my tears came gushing with this magnitude. You see, my husband is buried in the Resurrection section of the cemetery in Livonia, Michigan. Right beside his grave is a replica of the tomb with the stone rolled away and a sign reading: “He is not here; He is risen!” The German group was singing beside the open tomb—under the exact same sign. When I gained my composure, our tour coordinator, Pastor Wright, was asking if anyone had any comments. With the prodding of the Holy Spirit, I rose and told what had just happened. Pastor asked how many in our group understood German. No one. In fact, most of our people were oblivious to the singing. A few people later told me they thought the melody sounded familiar but couldn’t place it. Why? It was just for ME! That’s how much my Lord loves me!
After returning home, I shared this story with my children, and they cried with me. My daughter asked, “Mom, what day did this happen?” I thought back and realized it was Wednesday. You guessed it—April 5—my husband’s birthday! But he, too, has risen and is very much alive with his Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Since that time, I have noticed a new spring in my step, a new freedom that’s difficult to express. Grief is gone—even that which I did not know still remained. Now when I think of my late husband, it is with joy that he is in the presence of His heavenly Father whom he dearly loved, free from pain and worldly conflict and confusion, forever basking in the sunlight of God’s glory—Jesus Christ!
All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and
in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. – Jude 25
Oh how HE loves you and me!
UPDATE: My late husband had moved to his Heavenly Father’s house on January 25, 1999. Any grief that remained in me after seven years was released that day at the tomb in Jerusalem. I will always be thankful for my new friend and sister in Christ, Hyacinth Rose, who held me while I released it all that day at the tomb. Having no idea at the time what was happening in me, she was praying all the while and knowing God was at work. I shall forever feel bonded to her in love. She and her husband pastor the Cayman Islands Church of God.
(c) The Alabaster Box. C. Yvonne Karl, 2006. Updated 2008.
Author’s Note – I was privileged to visit Hyacinth and her husband in the Cayman Islands in March 2007.
Flashback to the first week of April 2006.
- On a trip to Israel, I had the awesome opportunity to baptize my niece Lane in the Jordan River. (She had long before dedicated her life to Jesus and has been “Pastor Lane” since her ordination in 2010.)
2. My sister, Virginia, tripped and fell on the Mt. of Olives sending us by ambulance to the clinic where the surgeon “super-glued” the gash on her forehead and put a cast on her broken wrist. The medical staff allowed me to stay with her the whole time. (Photo below from the Grand Court Hotel in Jerusalem, the same day.)
3. On April 5th, my late-husband’s birthday, a choir showed up at the tomb singing his favorite song in German, his native language.
4. The day I arrived back home in Michigan, I fell flat on my back on the wet pavement at the Detroit airport. An ambulance came, but I chose to go home, then the next day was diagnosed with a compressed fracture.
5. The evening of the day I returned from Israel, April 8th (my sister’s birthday), the call came to do the funeral for a dear friend, Diane Ottewell, the ballet instructor at our Academy, who had just died unexpectedly at age 46. Without telling anyone of my fall or the pain I was in, the Lord helped me make it through the planning, visitation, and service for Diane—in Flint Michigan—an hour’s drive from my home. Thankfully, my daughter was available to drive me there.
Life consists of a mixture of highs and lows. It rains on the just and the unjust (Matt.5:45).
God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
In everything, give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). (Note: it doesn’t say “for” everything.)
My husband’s grave is beside this sign in Livonia, Michigan