Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Broken Heart~Part 1

There is a very gentle man that has a broken heart. His name is S. Michael Wilcox and I love this man. He doesn't know me but I do know him. He is a speaker I have heard give many talks over the years at various church Education Weeks and Time Out for Women Conferences. Michael is a man who knows and loves the Lord and has a command of the scriptures like few others I have ever known. He has a gift, he makes them come alive in the most poignant way. He can make my heart see in ways I didn't think possible.

Michael is about our age and just retired in January of 2010. He and Laurie have five children and were looking forward with great anticipation to their retirement and the gift of time to travel and enjoy the fruits of all their labors. They were childhood sweethearts. Michael and Laurie had a storybook life, partly because of the good choices they made along the way.

Shortly after they retired, Laurie began to have seizures. She was diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer; inoperable. Michael had been writing a book about what the scriptures teach us about adversity. His work on theology instantaneously became his reality. She died on December 28th and was laid to rest on New Year's Eve 2010.

Eight months later Michael stood at Ed Week and talked about adversity; his own adversity. In a room filled to the rafters with over 1500 people he shared the most bittersweet and personal experience of his life. The death of his eternal companion and all that led to it and followed. It was as though he was sitting near each one of us and sharing such an inner depth of emotion...he just laid out his broken heart and let each one of us hold it for awhile. I cannot say if I have ever felt that degree of compassion before in my life. I think everyone in the room just wanted to hug him and hold him and somehow help something that couldn't be helped by human intervention.

What was so beautiful about this experience was that there were no dramatics involved. This was just not someone trying to give an amazing presentation, this was real and authentic and part of the healing of his grief. He had to share this experience in order to make any kind of sense out of it and to help others with their own adversity. It was a total gift and it was not easy for him. I have a feeling this was the first group he had shared this sacred experience with and it was very heart wrenching.

I believe that what prompted his effort was his Love for the Gospel and Jesus Christ and his tremendous testimony of the things he had been researching in the scriptures and writing about all year in his book and eventually experiencing. The purpose of sharing his heart with us was not to garner pity but to help us learn how to heal our own grief through the teachings of the Lord. After setting the stage to let us know he had "been there," he then laid out what he had learned for us in the most amazing way. He spoke on this topic for three hours. Here is just the beginning, I will follow this up with more posts.

In Acts 12 we read about James and Peter and their capture after the Savior's crucifixion. We read that James was slain by the sword. When Herod saw that this had pleased the Jews, he had the same plan for Peter whom he had cast into prison. However, because of the fervent prayers of the members of the church, AND because God's plan differed from Herod's, Peter was freed by an angel.

Michael pointed out that when adversity comes we all want the angel. We plead for the angel, we may even lead a life worthy of the angel, but sometimes we get the sword. Was James more deserving of death than Peter, no. Was Peter more valued as a disciple, no. Did James want to live less than Peter? Probably not. Were the Saints prayers for Peter any more fervent than Michael's prayers for Laurie? Definitely not!

This is what I mean about Michael and his depth of understanding in the scriptures. Would you have gleaned that from reading this chapter? I would have just read over that part of James' death waiting for the bigger meaning and impact of the chapter. Michael teaches in principles and this one he calls the The Sword and the Angel.

This is want I got from his principle. Sometimes the sword seems very random, this is life as it really is. We do not understand all of God's purposes and we are not meant to. But we do know this, if we always got the angel we wouldn't be tested much and our faith would remain weak and our theology just our theology.

Bad things happen to good people because they need them to make them even better. Sorrow is essential to our growth and development. It is essential for our acquisition of empathy and compassion and our development of real love for others. When things don't turn out as we wish, it does not mean God did not answer our prayers. He just said, "I am sorry, my beloved child, this time the answer is no. That was the sorrow I saw in Michael. Sadness unsurpassed but a spirit willing to allow his Father in Heaven to heal his wounds. A willingness to remain ever faithful in spite of his deep sorrow. A heart broken but not dysfunctional. A heart and spirit willing to learn, to be patient, to carry on. Who could not love such a man? I know I do and so did everyone else in that hour.

I don't think I can ever face adversity again without remembering this lesson. I will always think about James and Peter and Michael and how faith is increased and strengthened through adversity. Jesus Christ is our Alpha and our Omega. The beginning of all our joyous blessings and the end of all our sorrows. Given time Christ will heal us until the bitter cup of our suffering is finished.


Sister Susie said...

I needed this lesson. My blog has a prayer for a wonderful man of GOD who is facing stage 4 bone cancer. I can't understand why some of His children suffer so much and others have no suffering. It makes me feel guilty that the LORD has blessed me with good health, yet makes me fearful that I could one day find myself in the despair of such disease. Then I have to repeat Luke 12:22 when Christ told His disciples, "Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life!"
Then I remember the old song:
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. Then the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the Light of His Glory and Grace."
GOD's strength be with us all, Love to you and yours, Susan

LA Adams said...

Thanks. I've been struggling watching a beloved child go through some trials lately and the line you said: "Sorrow is essential to our growth and development. It is essential for our acquisition of empathy and compassion and our development of real love for others. When things don't turn out as we wish, it does not mean God did not answer our prayers. He just said, "I am sorry, my beloved child, this time the answer is no." is huge, resounding, spot on, actually I think I'll quote you if you don't mind in my next email. You have a really fantastic way with words.

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Bonnie,
Don't faint!! lol
What a great post, and what a gut wrenching but wonderful gift this man gave to yall..........
I agree with the person above you have a way with words, and you have a heart that wants to learn. Jim and I were just talking about that the other day.......that if we never had any sorrow or troubles how would we every have any compassion for anyone else and what would motivate us or help us to know how to help in a tangible way.
Given the hurricane....we have been thru it and had damage to deal with, 7-8 years ago, so we know what people are experiencing to a certain degree and know what we needed, so we could be more helpful in that situation, than someone who hasn't experienced that. Same thing with someone who has lost a loved one thru death or divorce.
and on and on.

So glad you are back hon, and so sorry I haven't been by, just have
been busier than usual and sleeping better at night, so don't have my
nightly visits......which is a good thing sleepwise.

and have basically just been visiting back when someone comes by and not even getting to my blog roll hardly.
Well, maybe now that you are home
we can visit more often.

Love and Blessings hon,
Will be praying for Hazie and her family. So sorry to hear she is sick again, bless her heart and Jenn and Loyals too!

So glad Laura and Robert and Chris were all safe and sound. good news.

Deila said...

So thought provoking and such a realization that this life has so much for us to learn, these are difficult lessons, but they give us so much in return. tough, tough.

Marie said...

BEautiful post Bonnie. Sorry for not visiting for a couple of days. My blogger has been acting up. I think it's really hard when God's answer is no. But given time there is always a reason why revealed. It's not easy to take no for an answer. I am so grateful for the Gospel in my life and for the peace that it brings, even in the face of no. xxoo

Janet said...


Congratulations on winning Nellies giveaway!

Your family is in my prayers!