“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me in the garments of Salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of Righteousness.”
I do believe that nothing happening when a believer in Christ dies is by chance. Oh no…The timing of our son’s death was no coincidence! It was EASTER weekend and our Lord planned some “built-in” comfort for our grief-stricken hearts!
It was the Saturday before Easter when we were to gather up and take burial clothes for Jake to the funeral home. So that morning I stood in the doorway of his room facing a task no parent wants to imagine! THIS room was the place where Jacob had died two days earlier of a drug overdose.
Entering his room I felt a strange mixture of emotions. HORROR from his sudden loss but at the same time COMFORT from being near his things. I took a deep breath, “Help me, Lord.” I whispered as I opened his shirt drawer. There was no questioning what shirt I was looking for…it HAD to be his favorite Indianapolis Colts football Jersey! (No one would have recognized Jake in a suit and tie) I folded the jersey and laid it on his bed.
On top of his dresser I found his blue and white Colts ball cap. That was also a given! Baldness is a tradition for the men in our family and Jake was not happy about it. His head was almost always covered with a ball cap. I held the cap up to the light coming from his window to see how clean it was. “Not too bad!” I decided. The cap was close to my face and a familiar scent made my eyes spill over with tears! “Oh Lord, it smells like Jake!” I cried out, pressing the cap to my heart….”This is SO hard!” The shock and disbelief of his death washed over me again! “Is he REALLY gone from us?” I asked! My hands shook as I smoothed out the crumpled cap and carefully laid it on the jersey.
I told myself that I HAD to keep going! In the top dresser draw I found socks, underwear and a clean white T-shirt. I laid those next to the shirt and cap on his bed. One last item was needed…pants. Opening the bottom drawer I found Jake’s favorite pair of blue jeans…the comfortable ones with the built in elastic waist band. THESE were the ones I wanted for him. I pulled out the jeans and held them up for inspection. I GASPED when I saw their condition!!! Even in the dim light of his room I could see that the jeans were FILTHY…FILTHY DIRTY…but they had been folded neatly and put away in the drawer. “OH JACOB MICHAEL!” I said, shaking my head! “You put these away dirty, Buddy!”
It was too much. I sat down on his bed, buried my face in my hands and sobbed! Poor Jacob…He was a teddy bear of a guy with a big heart and the sweetest smile… we all loved him …but the truth was he STRUGGLED and those struggles had caused him to leave us! From his teen years on so much of Jake’s life was like dirty pants folded in a drawer…JUST NOT RIGHT! “NONE of this is right, Lord!!!!” I lamented and slammed my clinched fists down on the grimy pants that now lay in my lap… IN MY LAP… It was then that the thought came… the filthiness, the“NOT RIGHTNESS” included me too, Jake’s imperfect mom! It was true and I knew it. I had made mistakes and I was just as much in need of the grace of God as my struggling son was.
It’s true for all of us. We may look pretty good to others but God sees the condition of our heart. There is no hiding from Him. Before a Holy God NONE of us measures up! We are ALL like filthy pants folded neatly in a drawer! God’s word says it bluntly…”We are all like an unclean thing and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Even at our best we fall far short…NEVER able to earn God’s love and approval… Hopeless to save ourselves!
BUT God’s love found a WAY… and that would make all the difference on that sad and terrible Saturday at our house. Our Heavenly Father didn’t turn away in disgust at our “filthiness!” He turned toward us in mercy, washing us …forgiving us!!!! But that cleansing was no SMALL matter. It came at the Highest price…God’s Word says, “The blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sin.” It cost Jesus EVERYTHING to do that for us!!! He suffered the unspeakable agony of the cross…His sinless life WILLINGLY given in exchange for our sin infected one. “He who knew no sin was made sin for us all.”
…And because of that great exchange our Jake struggles no longer! With faith in Jesus he came into the presence of God as a baptized, washed clean, welcomed home SON!!! But, that’s not all….Jake was sought after and claimed…included as a part of Christ’s own Body, His Church…The radiant BRIDE OF CHRIST!!! And because of that …come resurrection morning, I believe that old Colts jersey we put on him will have been replaced….with WEDDING CLOTHES!!! That’s right! He will be COVERED in a shimmering white robe of righteousness! There will be no need for that smelly ball cap either. Jake’s hair will be BACK and BUSHY!!! Jesus said, “I am making everything new!” That’s a resurrection promise we can take to the bank!!!
You know that Easter-vigil Saturday sitting right there on Jacob’s bed… a miracle began to happen. Our Lord applied some loving pressure to stop the hemorrhage of a mother’s broken heart. Even as I deeply grieved the devastating loss of my son…a little healing began. I could honestly say through my tears, “Thank you Lord, for what you did for Jake and for me. I will be FOREVER grateful!!!”
He gave me hope and the strength I needed that day. I washed those dirty jeans and got them nice and clean…Even though it took half a can of stain spray to do it! We gathered up Jake’s clothes in a bag and we took them to the funeral home. Jake’s viewing was on Easter Monday. He looked like an “Angel” and the most handsome Colts fan EVER!
Since that day I have wondered about something and it makes me smile…is there a chance that the next time I see my son… he might just be wearing a pair of clean, comfy blue jeans UNDER his white robe!
Laura this blesses me every time I read it🙏🤗Thank you so much for your transparency and gift of writing, art, and photography that you so beautifully share with others. ❤️