By Laura Rundell
“When you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away. You’re not alone, stop holding on, and just be held.” Casting Crowns
“Wrap me warm,” my three-year-old Johnny cries whenever he gets out of the car on a cold day, knowing we will hold him and pull him in closer with our arms to feel secure, to feel sheltered, to feel comfort. Sometimes the path from the car to the door seems like forever, as frigid air stings the skin, but Johnny holds tighter, burrowing his head, having some understanding that the feeling will come to an end eventually, and until then, he is as safe as he can be.
Growing up a Christian, I never remember a Bible verse that told me that those moments of discomfort wouldn’t come if only I believed. I never heard a song that guaranteed my heart wouldn’t break or tears wouldn’t fall. In fact, a childhood verse I remember actually guaranteed the opposite, that in this world I would have trouble, but that I would also have a peace— that wherever I was, God would also be. In those moments when I was uncomfortable, I, too, could lean on my Father, to feel shelter even in the roughest storms and to feel a peace in the turbulence that I wouldn’t be able to understand.
Last March, I buried my head deep into my Heavenly Father’s chest when I walked out of the hospital having just learned that the child I was carrying was not expected to live. I couldn’t walk faster to the car, anticipating respite from this storm when I shut the door behind me. I couldn’t temporarily escape the wind or the chill or see an end in sight. It didn’t matter if my child died tomorrow or died in 4 months, my child was going to die. I can’t describe this pain…. just as much as I can’t describe the peace I felt when I asked God to “wrap me warm.”
Funny how those childhood verses become adult meditations, the ones I cling to and find my hope in. I put a verse in my pocket on a piece of paper and fumbled it around every time I went to a ultrasound. “For I know the plans I have for you,” it said. It was God’s letter that I read and reread, “I know the plans I have for you, wherever you are–I am.” Words he promised me but also to little Sam, who continued to grow inside of me for 100 days after the diagnosis, who was born alive, and who I held as he passed from this world into the arms of the one who would wrap us both warm.
I am not saying that this prayer kept me from aching or feeling a pain greater than I have ever known. I buried my baby. I long to hold my beautiful boy in my arms again. I have dreamt of having just one more minute with Sam. It’s something that will never leave me.
Asking God to “wrap me warm” is something I need to do every time I struggle. If I don’t, I get pulled in to despair and overtaken by grief. After Sam died, I was consumed in the pain and brokenness. It hurt to breathe. I felt anxious about everything and hopeless. I couldn’t stop crying. But God was gentle, speaking to me through a song, filling me once again with a peace that in those moments, didn’t make sense. Losing a child could never make sense. No one could find understanding in it.
But I was reminded again of his peace that passes understanding when these words filled the air.
“You are my revival, Jesus on you, I wait. And I’ll lean on your promise, you will renew my strength.” Lauren Daigle
I would never escape this storm, but my strength could be renewed, and I could wait on God’s promise. The promise that he was there, wherever I was, and He would give me strength. I just kept listening over and over. You are my revival. My revival.
I looked up the definition of revival and it means to be reawakened, renewed, restored—basically to come alive. On my own, this is a word that would never have entered my vocabulary after my loss, but I was not on my own.
The song continued.
“I will run and not grow weary. I will walk, I will not faint. I will soar, on wings like eagles, find my rest in your everlasting name.”
That is what I needed. Rest. Rest from the pain, rest from the storm, and His strength because I had none. I needed once again to be “wrapped warm.”
There is another song that has been on the radio lately, and when I hear it, I feel the intimacy that God longs for with his children, the intimacy that has allowed me to come alive.
“If your eyes are on the storm, you wonder if I love you still. But if your eyes are on the cross, you know I always have, and I always will. Not a tear is wasted, in time you’ll understand. I’m making beauty from the ashes. Your life is in my hands.” Casting Crowns
He’s making beauty from the ashes. Restoration. He gives me new strength. Renewal. He gives me hope. Reawakening. My revival.
There is an old question that asks if it is better to have loved and lost or to have never loved at all. I wholeheartedly believe it is better to have loved. I was the lucky one. I would never trade the pain in losing Sam for the joy I had in knowing him. For the rest of my life, I get to speak his name, to count him as my own, to smile when I talk about him, as I am now.
Yes, I lost, but oh, did I love.
Forever changed by Sam, forever changed by God, and just like my three-year-old, knowing my weakness but seeking His strength and humbly, gratefully, and forever asking to be wrapped warm.
Laura Rundell is not a stranger to life’s twists and turns. At 14, her 39 year old mother died unexpectedly, another time when God’s faithfulness wrapped her warm. A health teacher in upstate, NY, Laura is the proud mother of 4 children on earth and one in heaven. She loves sharing Sam’s Story and God’s love whenever she gets a chance. To learn more about Sam’s life, find Laura on Facebook and on Instagram.