What happens when the unthinkable shakes your family?
A friend of mine, who lost her mom to cancer in 2019, sent a book, Divine Disruption to me, shortly after my mom passed this March. Divine Disruption is written by Dr. Tony Evans and his four children: Crystal, Priscilla, Anthony and Jonathan, after Lois, Dr. Evans’ wife passed away.
I began to read it on the airplane as we journeyed to the Dominican Republic for our family vacation right after school was dismissed in May.
The word “disruption” is the perfect descriptor for life confronted with stressors of all kinds. But it especially resonates with terminal illnesses and loss. I anticipated reading the page and sensed this book would remind me that I was not alone. I remember holding the book in my lap and as the airplane ascended my arms clenched the book close to my chest.
The seat belt light rang off, I was now able to put the tray down and dig into the book I’d been holding with great expectation.
The book opens with Anthony Evans Jr (Lois’ son) describing his mom. I blinked big blinks to clear the tears as I read and I questioned whether this book was about Lois, or somehow I was transported to the future and reading a story I would eventually about my own mom. It seemed that Lois’ character was so similar to my own mom.
Anthony said this of his mom, “Gentle strength. That is my mother, her spirit, the way she carried herself. Mom was never aggressive. True strength does not need to push or be loud. It’s quiet, calm. Gentle strength comes from the peace that passes understanding, from resting in the Lord.” (pg. xi)
Yes, “gentle strength” that was my sweet mom. I knew God meant this book for me, in that moment, in that season. I pressed on reading and page after page ministered to my heart as if they were written as a response to my questions as I grieved on the pages of my journal.
The wisdom from experience written on the pages of this book is extensive, deep and real. But I want to share with you three of the lessons that impacted me and left my heart changed. It is my hope that this whets your appetite to pick up your own copy of the book if your life has been interrupted and disrupted by challenges.
- Dying well
Priscilla wrote in the chapter entitled, “Is He God or not?”, “My mother taught me many things in life. But the most powerful lesson she showed me was how to die well, with my eyes fixed on Jesus.” (pg. 115)
This passage touched my heart because it affirmed that I too had the privilege of watching my own mom “die well, with her eyes fixed on Jesus.” Through this book and watching my mom, I have learned that death doesn’t have to be a scary, avoided or ignored part of life. It is a beautiful part of life that is the passage to new life, to life made whole.
- Surrender of Brokenness
In the chapter, “The Art of Surrender”, Dr. Evans wrote, “The Lord does not ask that we be okay with being broken. He only asks that we submit to the breaking and trust Him with it.” (pg. 180) I believe this is one of the hardest parts of faith. God invites us to trust Him not only to catch us when we fall apart, but to then put us back together.
The hope of this message is the reality that God is in our comfort. He wants to comfort us. He wants His spirit to be the balm for our aching souls. The only thing that stands in our way is our own surrender, our own acknowledgement that He is our everything.
- Legacy of Faith
Anthony Evans wrote the last chapter of Divine Disruption, entitled, “Legacy Lives On”. Anthony helped put words to what I was feeling when he said, “Because we have hope in Christ, we will see Mommy again. That takes away a bit of death’s sting. Until then, we will carry the mantle, and we will carry on.” (pg. 204-205)
There is a weight of responsibility to carry the legacy forward and I agree with Anthony when he said, “The best thing you can leave behind is a good legacy.” (pg. 204) The reality is, a legacy is the only thing we can leave behind that not only matters here on earth, but that also has eternal implications.
Dying well, the surrender of brokenness and leaving a legacy of faith are the highlights of a myriad of teaching points from Divine Disruption that spoke to me. The book concludes with a simple statement, “All of us together, trusting God.” (pg. 205)
I know there is nothing that would bring my mom greater joy than to see all of us together serving and trusting God. I can see her gentle strength and tender smile as she, with a contented heart, watches from above her “grand-angels” leaning into God, growing in empathy for others who are hurting and being aware of His presence with them.
I admit to you, when I said “yes” to God at the end of May to step away from work, ministry and focus on healing and my family, I felt like a fish out of water. It was one of the most uncomfortable beginnings I have ever experienced. And yet, God showed up in the pages of this book and helped my flopping, floundering discomfort to be soothed by the familiarity of Lois Evans character and story.
Indeed, this season of stepping back was yet another “divine disruption” that on my own I would’ve never asked for, yet by God’s grace He knew just what was needed.