By Brenda Jank

This last week I had the opportunity to “be there” for a number of hurting people. The cares of this world are often crushing. Few are immune. The following post, a repeat from July 2014, spoke to me as I was processing through the pain of my dear friends.  May God meet you in those tender, fragile places, as he met me once again. And to the families, classmates, and friends facing the unimaginable – the death of 19 children and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas, our hearts grieve with you as we hold you in prayer.

R.I.P. – “rest in peace” is a declaration of death, but what if it becomes a statement, a bold stance for life.

With a child in hospice, another facing chronic pain & disability and my dad battling stage 4 metastasized prostrate cancer, we are facing death head-on, day by day, hour by hour. The weight is no small thing. Heaving and straining, knees buckle, my breath is shallow and quick.

This past week, in a moment of inspiration, an unexpected opportunity for retreat emerged. So, today I am on retreat. My heart is pounding. Jesus’ invitation to ‘come away’ (Mark 6:31) is as real now as it was back then. It beckons and directs. It echoes with David’s longing to ‘hurry away’ (Psalm 55:6-8).

Let me tell you, there was pedal to the metal my dear friends, as I pulled out of my driveway early this morning.

My “place of shelter” was a grove of towering pines, a lakeside bench and a wicker chair nestled in a window-lined hallway at Pokagon State Park in northeast Indiana. An hour from our home, the car ride allowed me to unwind and disentangle. There, in a span of 5 hours, God took me from the ache of R.I.P. to the quieting, the whisper of “Brenda, rest in peace. It is mine to give. Yours to embrace.”

To rest in peace is the hope of heaven. But it’s not bound. It’s not out of reach. It’s within our grasp, here, now, through storm, flood, fire and furnace, through ache, anguish, and unknown.

It is ours when the Spirit invaded the consuming darkness. He comes to us with authority to comfort, to hush our racing thoughts, to breathe new life into embers He will not let die.

For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel has said, ‘ You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence… Isaiah 30:15a (HCSB).

R.I.P. or ‘rest in peace.’ Which will it be?

A few quiet hours off the beaten path allows us to exchange one for the other.

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