My mother collapsed at her 75th birthday party and died the next day. From the emptiness of loss, I eventually learned what it means to be whole.

I had nothing to support me in the darkest days of grief because I had no faith. I felt drawn back to church.  Returning there made sense because I was looking for mom, not God.  God found me nevertheless.

God’s truth is a beacon of light.  It has the power to shine through even the narrowest opening. Grief fractured my heart just enough to open my mind.  I began to ponder the mysteries of the Christian faith like these verses:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25 RSV

As Holy Week approached, I struggled with the ultimate paradox of faith.  How could Jesus’s brutal death on the cross open the door to everlasting life?  Why would God choose to suffer in that way?   I still couldn’t grasp it. God’s wisdom seemed like foolishness to me.
By Easter, it suddenly made sense. The Holy Spirit illuminated my mind to supply the understanding I lacked. I was convicted and comforted at the same time. It was exhilarating.

I became convinced of three important truths:

  1. I am a sinner.
  2. Despite my sins, Jesus loved me enough to die for me.
  3. Jesus was broken to make me whole.

Sacrifice is what love is all about.  This is the mystery of faith.

If I were less rebellious and “contrary” as mom used to say, I might have found faith without the agony of prolonged grief. Unfortunately I am one of those stubborn types who had to experience a painful void to fully realize God’s invitation to become a new creation in Christ.

The mystery was hidden in plain sight.  Without knowing Jesus, I could only see what was lacking. Because of Jesus, I came to know that I was abundantly blessed.  A strong desire to imitate the sacrifice of Christ soon followed.

I felt called to be a living kidney donor.  The thought of it wouldn’t leave me alone.  Once I made the decision to donate, tremendous peace and purpose stayed with me throughout the process.

The transplant center matched me with a woman I had never met.  Dolores (her name means “sorrows” in Spanish) was 71 at the time and had been on dialysis for six years.  We met a few days after surgery and have been close ever since.  God rewarded my generosity by bringing a new motherly presence to my life.

Luke 6:38 is one of my favorite verses because it reminds me of the paradox of God’s generosity.

Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

#mystery, #faith, #sacrifice,#transplant,#living donor,#generosity,#paradox