It’s so paralyzing and confusing at first.
Of all things, I was a tomboy as a little girl. So I’ve had my fair share of falling out of trees and getting the wind knocked flat out of me.
This feels a lot like that.
“What happened?” “Why does this hurt?” “Wait, why can’t I breathe?”
Way too shocked and way too hurt to even cry.
Yeah... This feels a lot like that.
A fluffy little Yorkie puppy’s eyes look inquisitively up at me from the warm bed he has made in my lap, licking away wayward tears from my face as I try to sort, to re-live it all.
Early morning phone calls. They’re as bad as late night phone calls. Your heart always drops at first.
“Mama” I answer, senses acutely dialed in to her voice, her response.
“Katie. It’s Aunt Linda. She’s had a massive aneurysm on her brain stem… They’re performing a 4 hour surgery, but the doctors don’t expect her to live through the night.”
I sat there on my floor, legs crossed, staring dumbfounded at the blank white wall in front of me.
“This can’t be real. This can’t be real,” I thought, “She can’t go. She’s only 52. She’s can’t leave South Korea where she’s been serving Christ for the past 14 years. She can’t leave her husband. She can’t leave their four children. This isn’t real…”
The next 36 hours were such a surreal blur. I seemed to float by with a dazed and heavy heart through classes and daily life.
Text updates from Mommy. Email updates from Daddy. Quick hugs, sobs, and prayers between classes with a few beloved friends.
Jesus, JESUS what are you doing?
Friday morning. A group of us girls were headed to the gym between classes to work out. I had quickly run home for something when I got ‘the’ call. You know ‘the’ call. Most of us would prefer to go through life with as few of ‘those’ calls as possible.
“Katie. Aunt Linda is brain dead. She never woke up from surgery. They are going to wait for her heart to stop beating before they pronounce her dead.”
‘Thud.’ That’s how my heart felt. I know it’s technically not a feeling or an emotion, but I wasn’t able to experience either of those two things at that moment. Just ‘thud.’
Praise God Mama was able to feel enough for the both of us women: “Katie, I just don’t understand!” she exclaimed through hysterical sobs, “Why Aunt Linda?! WHY HER?!? She loved and served Jesus so much! And she had such a huge heart for the Koreans, and her schoolchildren, and all those aching souls. I think of her leading all those Bible studies with the women, and baking cookies, and leading ‘True Love Waits’ with the youth. I keep asking God WHY. I know I shouldn’t, that God is sovereign, and that I shouldn’t expect an answer.
But now she’ll never see Michael graduate high school in May,
never see Keri graduate college,
never see Sarah walk down the aisle,
and never hold the grandbaby Heather would have had.
Oh and Uncle Rex,” she sobbed even harder, “He watched his sweetie die. And now he’s over there in that foreign mission field without his bride!”
Tragedy. Anger. Tears. Heartache. Why? Why? Why? WHY Lord???
“Then the Lord answered…‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding… Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.” Job 38:1, 2, 4; 40:2
Yes- and then God steps in [yet, not as if He hadn’t been there the entire time]. It was more of the Lord graciously giving us a glimpse of Himself and His Sovereignty. He is the only, only One I have met that can CONSISTANTLY take situations as dark as midnight and bring victories as glorious as sunrise…
|Somewhere over Uganda, 2008|
Once a young child sat at the foot of her grandmother, watching her old fingers as they cross-stitched. The tangled gobs of colored string looked like a horrible, awful mess from where the child was sitting. It wasn’t until the grandmother took the child into her lap up above that she was able to see the exquisite masterpiece the grandmother had been weaving the entire time.
So it is with the masterpiece of our lives that He is weaving, through the divine power of Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit. How disgustingly tangled Aunt Linda’s situation first seemed from our perspective! Though we are not always granted such on this side of eternity, the Lord suddenly let us sit on His lap and catch a glimpse of His sovereign perspective.
See, my friends, here is the catch – the unexpected catch that flips this ENTIRE situation over on its head – Aunt Linda chose to donate her organs.
In the traditional and conservative world of Korean medicine – organ donation does not happen. It is an extremely rare day that a Korean chooses to donate their organs. So when the young American wife and mother determined that she would give her organs, the country was taken by STORM. As Uncle Rex shared:
“We needed to sign so many papers at the hospital as Linda wanted to donate organs so others may live to possibly hear the Gospel. The Korean Hospital is simply overwhelmed with that decision as Koreans rarely donate organs. We've been asked if the TV network can do a "story" on this during our memorial service on Tuesday. I told them that they may come but I will likely be too emotional to be able to speak. I have asked if I could maybe write a statement that could be read. Linda will be able to witness to 50,000,000 Koreans through that basic statement of having the opportunity to extend someone's life to hear about Jesus and the eternal life he has given to us as Christians.”
So on that cold January afternoon… Aunt Linda became the first foreigner in the history of the Korean nation to donate organs.
In an email from the day of the funeral, Uncle Rex continued: “Today was a very long day. We were at a funeral home from noon to 9PM. We had interviews with 6 different TV channels and our interviews were aired all over Korea on the evening news. Linda is the first foreigner to donate organs in the country and she has become somewhat of a celebrity. In the interview I was able to maintain my composure, praise the Lord! I was able to tell people that Linda and I had a goal to be able to extend people's lives long enough for them to hear about Jesus and His gift of eternal life. I am not sure how much they edited out but the Korean people I have talked to said that it came across that she definitely was a Christian. Linda lives on!
I have been told that 5 peoples lives have been saved and that about 100 burn victims will benifit from skin grafts. The Korean people are amazed that someone would do this for them when the majority of Koreans would not think about doing this themselves. The Minister of Health stopped by to pay his respects. They Mayor of Uijongbu (Pop. 500,000) sent flowers. The Democratic Party sent flowers. Several hundred people stopped by to pay their respects. It was a great day. Very exhausting, but it was definitely a day of ministry.”
“Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe it if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5
With this one precious glimpse at how indescribably SOVEREIGN my Lord is – I cannot even begin to imagine the wealth of healing and blessing He has planned for the Korean people and for the Rex Freel family.
This is an earnest plea for you to be in prayer for the Freel family and for the Korean nation. They are feeling our prayer and being sustained as the Body of Christ continues to lift them before the throne room. Please – PRAY!
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
“Be serious and watchful in your prayers.” 1 Peter 4:7
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16
I don’t think Aunt Linda would EVER forgive me if I shared her story and then did not extend the truth of Christ’s consuming, redeeming love to you! I guess when I blog I’m under the assumption that my intimate friends and family are my audience, that most everyone reading this has already known and tasted the precious life and freedom that follows a life abandoned in Christ. I can’t assume that.
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you have been going to church since the day you were born, if you made a confession of faith when you were little but don’t relate with Christ daily and intimately, if you are turned off by the idea of Christ because of those that have misrepresented what it’s like to be in a love relationship with Him, if you used to follow Christ closely but have turned away because of all the immense pressures of this fallen world, or if this is the first time you have even heard the mention of Christ’s Name.
Christ changes hearts.
And He has changed mine. I have watched with my own eyes as people’s hearts absolutely and immediately UNFOLEDED, BLOSSOMED at the mere knowledge of Him. Christ was a man, a real man. He was also the son of God. “Christ became the son of man, so that sons of men may become sons of God.” He came because you and I were broken beyond repair. He came because He ADORES us. He died because He knew He was the ONLY one that could save us. When He left He gave us His precious SPIRIT, that we could continue to experience His LIFE as we live to be like Him. He gave us His living WORD that we may be sustained on this earth until the day that both our likeness and knowledge of Him are made FULL.
"You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
“And [Christ] is the RADIANCE of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the Word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3
"...the knowledge of the glory of God in the FACE OF CHRIST." 2 Cor 4:6
"Anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father." John 14:9
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it through Him." John 3:17
"For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8
“In Him we have REDEMPTION through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the RICHES of His grace.” Ephesians 1:7
“Nor is there salvation in ANY other, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
“My heart shall REJOICE in Your salvation.” Psalm 13:5
Please, please, please, please, PLEASE do not hesitate to contact me – if you have questions, if you need prayer, if you are angry hurting or rejoicing – anything! I would love to share more about what it’s like to live with Him, or to give you more Scripture to plug into, or to attempt to answer and clarify your questions, or to be in prayer over you. My email is KatieLady318@aol.com, or you could shoot me a Facebook message as well :)
"Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation." 2 Cor 6:2
"Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts..." Heb 3:15
This blog post is coming much, MUCH later than I had hoped. But I trust that for whatever reason this post is in perfect timing with God’s will.
Before I wrap up [and collapse into my warm fluffy bed] I wanted to share some photos from last summer. I was so blessed to be able to visit my family in Michigan. Toward the end of the week, Mama, Aunt Linda, my cousin Keri, and I went berry picking at an adorable farm nearby. It was a really special mother-daughter morning. These recent events have made these memories all the more PRECIOUS and I wanted to share them with you:
“And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were HEALED.” 1 Peter 2: 24
“Behold, I will bring it to health and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them an abundance of PEACE and TRUTH. And I will RESTORE the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and I will REBUILD them as they were at first.” Jeremiah 33: 6, 7
“For in Him we live and move and EXIST…” Acts 17:28
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer LIVES, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 37-39
“This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy Word has revived me. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes. May Thy compassion come to me that I may LIVE, for Thy Law is my delight.” Psalm 119: 50, 71, 77
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not destroyed; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the LIFE of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4: 8, 9, 10
Somewhere on the other side of this world, hundreds of thousands of Koreans are holding a newspaper with Aunt Linda’s picture on the front. And it is as the simple caption states it to be:
“For the Love of Korea”
Yet, even so, may they one day understand:
“For CHRIST’S LOVE compels us…” 2 Corinthians 5:14
Blessings – Katie