On a February evening, at bedtime, I received a text from an unknown number. At first, I thought it might be a scam. Then, as the possibility of the message being real sank in, I shared it with my husband. “There has been a rafting accident involving your son Evan in Guatemala and he is missing. Please call me.”
A search and rescue team found Evan’s body about 48 hours after his accident. No words can describe the sorrow that engulfed us. We’re still learning to integrate our sorrow with faith in God’s goodness and never-failing love.
Evan’s friends made and shared, after his funeral, a video with an audio clip of his voice. I’ve taken comfort in these words that spring up from the Source of Life:
“I truly have a blessed life.
I truly don’t deserve it. . .
There is no deserve.
There just is.”
– Evan Daniel Bogart
Since Evan’s accident, I have countless times, listened to these words savoring the sound of his voice.
I’ve pondered the turn of his thoughts from the idea that he never did anything to deserve the good things in his life to the acceptance that he gets to enjoy life anyway.
I’m so thankful his thoughts took that turn. How easily the awareness of our own failures and weaknesses robs us of the fullness of life available at any given moment!
I could not rescue Evan from obsessing over his failures because until a few months before his death I was stuck in that place myself. I thought it was up to me to think the right thoughts and to tend my interior garden so I could be the kind of witness whose joy impacts others.
I recall a surprise my family planned for me upon earning a master’s degree from university. They pooled resources to fly everyone home to celebrate me for an achievement I felt (for reasons I won’t go into) that I didn’t “deserve”.
My family told me how proud they were of me, and I was beyond excited to have them all home, but I struggled to receive congratulations from those who love me most. Though no one ever mentioned it, I wonder if they could sense my resistance.
It’s often said, “you can’t give what you don’t have.” My lack of confidence worried me through years of parenting five children. How could I instill in them a confidence I lacked? Yet St. Teresa of Kolkata said, “When you have nothing, then you have everything.” Mother Teresa’s words remind me that even as a wife and parent, it’s not up to me. In my nothingness, Jesus does not abandon me.
In the wake of Evan’s death, the sadness I experience because I didn’t live up to my own expectations as his mom is probably the hardest to let go. It seems I deserve it. But why should I cling to my failures when life and love await?
My love repeatedly falls short, but God’s never does. Mother Teresa is right. In my nothingness his love becomes everything. His love even goes so far as to redeem our failures.
We’re surrounded by a love we could never deserve. It just is.
What about you? Are you aware of the presence of a love you could never deserve? How will you respond to such grace?
The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted,
his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!