Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Explanation

On my last blog entry, I gave you Romans, Chapter 8 to ponder and consider for yourself, because that Chapter of the Holy Bible has had a profound influence in my life. I hope it will in yours as well. It was Romans, Chapter 8 that taught me how to go on after my child, my baby, went to heaven without me. I was studying Romans 8 in Community Bible Study when our tragedy happened, a gift, more than a gift, an explanation for what had happened.

Unknowingly, I had been living a double life before Bronner went to heaven. I lived for God, but I also lived for myself. True, I attended bible study every week. I taught Sunday school. I sent my children to a Christian School where I was a very active parent. But, the flesh has a strong pull, as do the things of the world. God made me see through Romans, Chapter 8 that life in the flesh and lived for the desires of the flesh and the pleasures of the world brings death, and, in fact, is death itself, because any life lived not according to the Spirit of God isn’t life at all.

The morning after my darkest night I laid on my couch in shock and horror and disillusionment. I tried to read my bible searching for answers, but I couldn’t read. I physically couldn’t do it. My eyes couldn’t focus on the page. My stepdaughter, Brandi, came and sat on the other end of the couch. She didn’t know what to say, but she was there. So, I handed her my bible and asked her to read Romans, Chapter 8 to me, and she did.

When she finished, I asked her to read it again, so she did. And, when she finished the second time, I said, “Again. Read it to me again.” I wanted to hear it over and over again, because in it were answers, lots of answers. It told me that God wasn’t condemning me. He hadn’t taken my baby out of judgment or punishment for some sin, because He tells me in the very first verse of that chapter that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

And then it said, “Don’t set your mind on things of the flesh but on the things of the Spirit.” My baby was now spirit. He was no longer flesh. He was in heaven with God. And heaven became so much more real to me. I knew Bronner. I knew what he looked like. I had touched him and kissed him and loved him. I knew he was real. I just couldn’t see him anymore. And, that made me realize that God and heaven and everything the bible talks about was just as real as Bronner had been to me the day before.

We get so caught up in our lives here on earth even as Christians that we think that heaven is so far away. We know that it’s coming someday, but it seems so distant to us and even unimportant. Isn’t what I’m doing right now for God what I should concentrate on? Maybe, but never forgetting to eagerly await and hope for the glory that is to be revealed to us at the second coming of Christ. God was taking me to a new awareness and a deeper understanding of Himself, of heaven, and what my life’s focus should really be about.

I had thought that because I was Christian, I was exempt from pain and suffering. Stupid, I know, because there’s nothing in scripture that indicates that. I just thought I was protected and blessed and special. I really felt special to God. Sometimes, I felt like it was just me and God and that’s it. I still don’t understand how He can have such a personal relationship with me, so real that I can feel His presence, and have that with so many others as well. God is so incomprehensible even as we learn more and more of Him. He is magnificent and giant and so far above us that His omnipresence and omniscience and eternal nature are almost unfathomable to us.

But, here in Romans 8:16-17, I am hearing something very different from what I had thought before, and if you don’t pay close attention, you might miss it the first time around. I had. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Did you catch it? “provided we suffer with him” If we are truly children of God, then we will suffer, and if we want to inherit with Christ the earth when God makes it new again, we will follow the Lamb wherever He goes, and the Lamb was slain. I felt slain, stabbed right in the heart, broken, confused, with excruciating pain that no one could relieve. But these words were.

It says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Not worth comparing? Are you serious? That’s got to be good stuff for this not to even matter. But, I am learning that it is. I look forward to heaven and to Christ’s appearing in the clouds more than you can even imagine. I long for that day when I step into the gates of heaven. I pray for Christ’s quick return everyday. “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.” But with eager expectation, I wait with patience. This is exactly what it says to do. “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (vs. 23-25)

I pray every day for God to give me patience, to help me endure the absence of someone most precious to me. Everyday, I need help to get through the day, and God provides it. I miss my baby every single day, and it doesn’t get any easier. I had tasted life with Bronner, and I knew it to be good. I am keenly aware of what I’m missing out on, and it’s hard.

Every day is hard. Every one of them. So I need help from God. I have to have Him with me, or I couldn’t do it. I wake up every morning asking God for help. It’s usually a very short and direct prayer at my waking moment, “God, help me.” “God help me make it through today, because I want to be obedient to the work you have called me to and to be here for my other children and for my husband and for my friends, my church, and my family. But I need Your help. I cannot do it on my own.”

And He answers “Yes” everyday. So far. He promised He would, and He has. He says right here in Romans Chapter 8, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (vs. 35) “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” (vs. 37)

So, I am not separated from God. And, with His Spirit, I can see Bronner. My mind’s eye still sees, and I even catch his scent from time to time. I feel that somehow, I’m already there. That what I see here right now on earth is the apparition, and what is real, what is really real, is there. It’s all there. My citizenship is in heaven with Bronner. My treasure is there. My hope lies in it. And more and more, I feel like a foreigner in my own country, like I really don’t belong here. But, I know that what is going on here right now matters for eternity, forever. I feel like this is my opportunity to work. There, I will be happy. There, I will be free. But, here, with my burdens laid down and my hope securely fastened around me, I do what God asks of me here in this world. He’s asked me to teach and to write and to go and to raise and to love and to help and show and to speak on His behalf. And, I count it a privilege, an honor, to serve my Lord.

I feel like a warrior, a soldier, going into battle where nothing is about pleasure or worldly gain but about justice and peace, defending the weak, helping the oppressed, teaching the lost, and bringing hope to those who have lost all hope. I think about America when she finally got into the war, World War II. She didn’t want to fight. This wasn’t her battle. She was at peace, but she saw that so many were not at peace, so many were being held captive, and so many were dying. So, she got in the game and did her part to free those in bondage and to bring about peace.

I believe that is why God has left me here, why He took my baby. It was so I would die to myself and live for others. He knew that I would. And in His infinite wisdom, He did what would have been unthinkable to a mere human, but His perspective is so much larger than ours. He sees the big picture, the future, and everyone, not just me and my happy family. I’ve learned that, yes, I am special to God. Yes, He loves me, but He loves so many others as well. He loves us all and desires a relationship with each person He created. It is His breath flowing through each of us that has given us life. He is our creator, not just mine, but everyone’s. So, He has chosen to use me and my family to bring others to Christ. And, I know because of Romans Chapter 8 that all of it is working together for good, because I love Him.

Romans Chapter 8 was read at Bronner’s graveside the day he was buried. Brandi read it that day, because I was still to weak to speak or to read, but I did read it on the 1st anniversary of his death standing at the wailing wall in Jerusalem surrounded by Jewish women shushing me. On that day, my feet were planted like the roots of a strong tree, and nothing or no one could stop me from reading that Chapter of the Bible even though many would have liked to it seemed. And as I read, I felt the power of its words grow stronger and stronger until it crescendoed into its paramount last verse, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


  1. What a beautiful and faithful testimony! I have prayed for your family for the last couple of years and we still listen to rick in the mornings. Thanks for the incredibly encouraging posts! Praise our God for your leaning on Him and drawing your strength from Him alone.

  2. Sherry, I have a close friend who just lost her 6 year old nephew to a drowning accident. I'm going to refer her to this post. I know that it will bring her and her family comfort. Thank you.

  3. At first I stood amazed at your faith, but today, I stand amazed in our God, who can "work all things together for good to them that love the Lord" He is so faithful.....thank you for sharing.

  4. All I can say is WOW !!! and Thank you !!!!

  5. Sherri, what a blessing you have been to us. Lord, thank you for your courage you have given the Burgess family. They are being faithful to you in this journey. Help us not to miss your message for us all in their witness they are showing us. Lord, we praise your name. Help us to remember this our temporary home. We are only here for a short while. Amen

  6. Sherri, I had to leave a comment after reading your last two blog entries. My son died four years ago, and I have grieved along with you and your family in the loss of your precious son as well. I have claimed Romans 8 during this time, too. Thank you for articulating so well the fact that it is not about punishment, our personal comfort or anything else but God and His glory and His awesome love for His children. I met Rick and Bubba a couple of years ago in Nashville; would love to meet you someday, as well. May we all continue to live for Him until He calls the rest of us home.

  7. I do not know you, but I have been given your contact information time and time again. My two year old son ran to Jesus' loving and open arms 4 1/2 months ago while lying in my arms. What a dreadful nightmare to live...I'm not telling you anything you don't know though. I started a debate on my blog today and I was told to read your recent post and I have an entirely new view on life after reading this. You are an incredible woman of great faith and I applaud you for the voice you are able to give us moms who live day in and day out without our children. I would love to meet you and actually talk to someone who understands how great the loss of a child really is. (My blog)

  8. I don't know what to say......what a beautiful testimony. I have prayed for you and your family over the loss of your son. Your faith was so strong even when you felt a bit weak.

    It was such a pleasure meeting you today and listening to Rick's message at the Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola. Rick made a big impression on me today. My heart was so full of joy!
    I know you don't remember me, but I told you my "baby" will be playing tennis for Auburn University next year. I hope she will continue to grow in her relationship with the Lord.

  9. I love you Sherrie!

    Jenny (Whaley) Howle

  10. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts through this blog. Your words are truly inspirational and I look forward to reading many more entries in the future.

  11. Ok I'm in tears as I read this very personal insight.
    Thank you for comforting.
    Thank you for being real.
    Thank you for giving so many the
    courage to face a new day.


  12. Thank you for bringing Romans 8 to my thoughts as I sit in a very dark place with tears falling from my face. Wow, just to think that Jesus STILL loves me ! Thank you.

  13. Hi Sherri, Love this post. The Holy Spirit is to be praised for this message. I had a similar prompting in my Spirit from Romans 8, hence I learned also in my suffering over the past year. God gave me a specific message last friday to post on my caringbridge site. This is authentic and real, the more God reveals the more I see His Glory, All to Him. You know that I continue to pray for you and your family and for the strength you need day by day. See you soon! Beautiful Blessings, Suzanne Moore

  14. Dearest Sister-in-Christ,
    Romans Chapter 8 has been one of my favorites since college, but thank you for sharing what it has meant to you! It is refreshing, enlightening, and timely words you share with many, and I so appreciate your boldness for Christ and His Word. May His Word not return void........blessings to all

  15. Just wanted you and Rick to know that I was at an upward bound basketball game the other Sat and the young man that gave the half-time devotional gave his life to Christ after he heard Rick speak at Bronner's memorial service. Just wanted you to know another soul was one to the lord in Bronner's memory.

  16. Sherri-
    Wow you are right on!! To see through God's eyes is a gift he has given you. Thanks for sharing these words of hope and encouragment. I'm so blessed by them!

  17. Sherri just read this with many tears and encouragement too. I lost my son in 2002 and understand the looking toward Home daily. Thank you for the reminder of Romans chapter 8.