Hold on to the Lord

Two weeks ago today, I sat with my family in a pew at Union Congregational Church in Rockville, Connecticut. We had just watched a video about the current adoption process of my soon-to-be cousin, a little girl from China, who will be the tenth child in her family, the twenty-fourth grandchild on my mom’s side, and my thirty-fourth cousin.

As we watched Bible verses flash on the screen, my father leaned over and asked me, “What does it really mean to take care of the orphan and the widow?”

I shrugged, and mumbled something about most people always sitting around asking questions like that, but then failing to go out and actually accomplish the objective.

This past Tuesday was the most normal day of my life, until it became a blur of shouting and 911-calls and flashing lights and policemen and neighbors and EMTs pounding up and down the basement stairs. Then, half-an-hour of a quiet house, full of tears and prayers and Psalms. Finally, a phone call, and a deep, sickening finality.

My dad died from a heart attack. I don’t even completely know how that feels, or what it means yet. But I am certain that my dad now knows the perfect and complete love of his true Father, and my mother and siblings and I are experiencing the love of Christ’s church as believers all around us faithfully and selflessly and lovingly obey the commands of Scripture. The question that my dad asked has been answered more thoroughly than I could have imagined, not through consideration or study or discussion, but through the real, tangible love of the Lord and His people.

Here is the brief eulogy that I wrote for the funeral:

 

Seventeen years ago, my father wrote these words in a journal to me: “This morning, after dragging myself out of bed at 6:00 a.m. to read the Bible and pray, and taking a shower, I sat in the chair in our bedroom while your mom took a shower. As I sat there I thought I heard you making some sounds in your bed as you slept. Before I knew it you were stumbling into our room, rubbing your eyes, half asleep. You were so cute. Then, you climbed into my lap and put your arms around my neck and put your head on my shoulder. I was honored that you saw me as a person to receive comfort from. I hope you do that again soon.”

My dad’s own words here, describing a situation that isn’t particularly remarkable, are a simple glimpse into his character and his love for his family. My dad was an extremely diligent and consistent man, who sought after the Lord and the interests of others before his own interests. He was always faithful in the little things–setting out his clothes every night before work, getting up early, reading His Bible and praying, and spending most of his weeknights and weekends bringing all of us kids to and from work or activities. As hard as he worked, he never made work itself a priority. He never saw life as a competition.

My dad never looked past people. He was always very aware of different people and their personalities and different interests. Whenever someone was upset about something, no matter how subtle the signs, he noticed and was quick to offer consolation in whatever way he knew would serve them best. When someone was excited about something, he was ready and willing to listen to them ramble on to their heart’s content. He always encouraged us–his children–in our interests and taught us not become distracted by fleeting passions, but to work hard in tedious tasks and in every opportunity we were given.

My dad truly was a comforter. He was compassionate, and he always took our worries and concerns seriously. Through his sense of humor, he brought laughter and relief to stressful situations, and showed us that our worries were unnecessary when we considered them in light of the goodness of God.

My dad was faithful in teaching us the importance of diligence and discipline and continually pointed all of us to the Lord’s steadfast love. He reminded us that God is sovereign, and whatever He ordains is what is good for us. Our circumstances today, which seem so shocking and strange, are really not strange in light of eternity, when we consider that a week ago, our time and breath and circumstances were coming from the same good hand of our heavenly Father.

What was my dad’s only comfort in life and death? I know that his answer was–and is now, much more fully than we can imagine–that he is not his own, but belongs, body and soul, in life and in death, to his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, I’ll share a part of the letter he wrote to me on my seventeenth birthday, which I know is not only to me, but to all of you. He wrote, “My final words to you are from a story Aunt Catherine told me years ago. She was on a train traveling back to New Jersey from California. She was near a group of African-American women who were talking about things of God. She sat with them and one of the women said something like, “Hold onto the Lord…whatever happens…hold onto the Lord.” Now I know God holds us in His hand and nothing can snatch us out of his hand, but I always remind myself to seek, pursue, study about, pray to, go to, hold-on to, depend on, trust in, and rest in God. Would you please do the same?”

Please, I plead with you. Hold onto the Lord.cropped-97c06c_0b51096ef10b4896bc37557a98fdfc08-mv2_d_2520_2480_s_4_21.jpg

8 thoughts on “Hold on to the Lord

  1. Wow Mikaela….

    I’m sure when your dad asked that question, he had no idea that many others would be asking themselves the same question in reference to his own family, just a short time later…. 😥

    You were so very blessed to have the father that your Dad was. He has left behind an amazing legacy, and that legacy will continue to live on in the lives of those who knew him – and especially in you his children. My heart is breaking with yours at this sudden loss, but it is also rejoicing in the confidence and hope that he is truly in the Lord’s Presence.

    “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    Is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5)

    As you put it so beautifully, hold on to God. And we will hold on with you.

    Hugs and love,
    Your friend,
    Alisa

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  2. Mikaela,
    That touched me as much as it did when I heard it the first time yesterday….and How prophetic for your Dad to ask the very question that your family now finds themselves in! It is awe inspiring to me…..we are God’s handiwork….small threads in a great big tapestry of a beautiful masterpiece He is weaving. Someday….we will understand and know! I love you!!! We will be walking this journey with you…..

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  3. Mikaela,
    You are truly an amazing young lady and your words truly touched me. My family has been in Ohio this year and unable to attend, but I want you to know we are truly sorry for your loss. Your father was a true Christian and gave you the best advice ever! Please know we will be praying for you and your family. The Button family

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  4. Mikaela- you don’t know me, but your mom and I met many years ago when you were a baby and we used to get our kids together for little playgroups I was so very very sorry to hear of your dad’s passing. I do remember him as being a wonderful dad and husband. I lost my father the same way, ,and without any warning and I can only say it is the supernatural grace of God that carries His children through these dark valleys. May God’s peace that passes all understanding surround your entire family at this time. From your writing, I can see that your dad has passed on to you an amazing faith, and that is an incredible legacy. When my father died very suddenly, my uncle said something I never forgot. “If Christ is always with us…..and at this same moment Christ is always also with them, then they can never be very far away”. We will continue to hold up your entire family in our prayers now and going forward. All our love, Kelly Wenarsky and Family

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  5. Mikaela-I don’t know if you remember me, but I met you when you came to the Outer Banks with my niece Alisa. I heard about the loss of your dad, and read your post here. I am sure your father would be so proud of you, and the strength you portray. Christ is shining through you, and your testimony. I am so glad to hear that Christ is showing himself faithful through the outpouring of responses from your church family. To God be the Glory! I have been praying for your family since I heard the news, and will continue to pray for you as you continue your earthly journey without your dad. May the peace that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7

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  6. Mikaela,
    My family has been praying for you and your family ever since the Westerholms shared with us about your father. Know that you all are being lifted before the throne of our precious Father every day.
    Our family went through a death this year, through a miscarriage. Someone recently encouraged us with this verse that gives such hope, and I felt the Lord prompting me to share it with you, too. It is I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” The Lord is holding you all in His everlasting arms! He is our Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6).
    Jesus loves you all! May He fill you with His comfort and peace.
    In Christ,
    Morgan Roth

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  7. How sweet it is to have such a godly man in your life, and one to call your father. My family and I are lifting yours up in prayer in this time, and this holiday season. May you feel the presence of the one who is all peace, joy, love, and comfort. ❤

    the Leongs

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