An Army, with Lanterns

My dear friend Ashley had a vision just days after Chris was diagnosed. She kept it to herself until it became very clear that Chris was leaving this world. She described the vision as like watching a movie on her bedroom ceiling. She saw our family, with Chris, running down a long dock, but then, when the rest of us stopped at the end of the stretch, Chris dove in and started swimming, with all his might, with joy. The five of us were left there, stunned. We turned around to slowly walk the length of the dock back. And there, on the shore, was an army of people–a crowd, a sea, of people–holding lanterns, waiting to take us in.

I haven’t known how to write this post. It feels way overdue and actually impossible to accomplish rightly. I think I also have a fear that saying thank you might signal some implicit closure between us, and that scares me. But here’s what I need to say:

I cannot imagine where I and my children would be without every single phone call, text, email, card, donation, meal, thought, prayer, hug, tear. The image I so often have–daily–is that we are in a vessel–a sea-worthy boat–and the boat is physically made up of all of these things. They are–you are–literally the hands, feet, and arms of God. With lanterns. It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen or experienced.

I need you all to know that I read (and re-read) every word you say and send. I don’t often respond. Apart from grief I’m a faulty responder. In the midst of grief I have next to nothing in reciprocation. I’m still letting your love just wash over me and carry me, letting it be light unto our path. I hope that’s OK.

Please keep walking with us. I shudder to think of this way without you all. But I don’t have to.

24 thoughts on “An Army, with Lanterns

  1. Hailey Kingsley

    Wow! And yes! God is so good🙌❤️ This is so beautiful. Thank you for your naked vulnerability as you go through all of this. It’s so raw, so painful, so joy-filled….
    Praising God for His goodness in, through, before, during, and continuing…

  2. Johannah

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful image. You and your little ones continue to be in my prayers and thoughts. Praying you will continue to be surrounded and carried by the church both near and far for a very long time to come.
    Much love,

  3. Wendy Williams

    Dear Sarah,
    I have been thinking of you this morning and came to see if you had written anything new that would direct my prayers for you. I remember talking with my mother-in-law once as she was going through cancer treatment, about how many lives had been touched witnessing God’s faithfulness to her in her suffering and how healing for others had come from it. She admitted thankfulness for that but also a weariness and a desire for their healing to not have to be “bought” by her suffering. I think of this now because every time I see you across the sanctuary or read what you write I am reminded by God’s tenderness and faithfulness to you in the midst of your suffering. That is a great gift to me, but I do wish that blessing didn’t stem out of such deep pain for you. Every hug holds with it a desire to bear it for you and with you, a desire for those few seconds for you to know you are ever held and never alone. What a beautiful picture God has given you, this army with lanterns waiting to surround you with their presence and their light. Thank you for letting me love you and yours—that is a precious gift to me.

  4. Laurie Rogers Powers

    Sarah, Once again, you have brought such clarity to us via a friends vision. I have thought about it and it dispenses such beauty, calmness, peace. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have been a part of an online bible study for over a year now. We study the Bible one verse at a time and the Lord has unleashed a creative gene in me to “doodle” what we talked about. I published it into a book called “God Doodles” and I’m getting ready to publish a second one this summer. I share this with you because I am so drawn to this vision of your friends and, if time permits, I would like to draw it from divine inspiration. Would that be okay with you? I don’t want to tread in an area that you would prefer left as it was spoken to you. Let me know. Again, thank you for sharing your very personal journey with us.

  5. Rebecca Thompson

    God’s people will continue to stand with you in prayer and in presence that you may know that the Lord Himself is “with you always to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

  6. Dee Crownover

    Sarah, praying for you and your beautiful children! Thought of Chris this Easter season…he loved Easter! The suffering and the sacrifice…enveloped in His Grace and Love.
    I ordered Volume 2 for myself and I am reading alongside you!
    The Lord has not forgotten you!
    He is holding you in His mighty right hand!
    love and prayers of peace! ✨Dee✨

  7. Patti Gehringer

    Sarah, you are in my prayers. You
    are loved by so many. May his light guide your steps by the love of those you care about you holding the lanterns that shine on
    Your path.

  8. Russ Herren

    Dear Sarah,
    Every time you post something on this site, I am eager to read your thoughts and to stop and pray for you and your family. Thank you for the window you are providing into the heart of suffering. This is a treasure and a gift both to fellow sufferers and to those who want to love people well who are mourning. As I read the story you are writing — that is being written by our God — it is so good to know where this whole thing is going. But I pray you will never have to hurt this much again.

  9. Anonymous

    Even when I don’t post, I’m checking on you, praying, and loving you. So maybe you should multiply the comments by 10. ❤️

  10. Betsy Rogerz

    I continue to pray for you and your sweet children throughout each day. I am committed to praying as you walk in this valley. God will never leave you.
    Betsy Rogers

  11. Anonymous

    This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine….Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

    That song, learned in early childhood, popped into my head. Keep writing, Sarah! We love you and the children dearly and will be here for you.

  12. Whitney

    We are praying for you and each of your kids by name each night. You are present in our hearts and minds. We love you!

  13. Jeanette Prisk

    Sara, I asked God to lead me to a place for my devotions today & I ended up in Daniel. The first section is about Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzer’s dream & then I prayed for you & ended with the reading of your journal with your friends dream. Coincidence? I think not. God is speaking to you a message of reassurance & comfort that He and the people that are surrounding you love you & are holding you up. The message is His sovereignty. He was sovereign in sparing Daniel’s life because He had a mission for Him in the midst of horrible circumstances. He has a mission for you & will continue to reveal it to you as you hold tightly to Him & as Gods people hold tightly onto you. I thank God in advance for The future He has planned for you, never forgetting the beautiful person of your beloved Chris.

  14. Joel & Kate

    Love you Sarah. This image is powerful. Thanks for letting us all into your head and heart through this. We are thinking and praying for you often!

  15. Becky Smith

    Dear Sarah, I hear the Lord saying to you “Well done thou good and faithful servant” as you walk this path in His presence. He holds your hand thru His people. Love and prayers for you and your children continue.

  16. Sara Baugh

    Sarah, Soon after my father died in 1990, I had my first and only vision. Afterwards, I was convinced that as soon as Dad left this earthly world, he stepped into the arms of Jesus. I carry that beautiful picture with me even to this day.
    I continue to pray for you, the girls, and your entire family and am thankful your friend shared her vision with you. What a glorious reminder that Chris is in God’s loving arms.

  17. Betsy Kopecky

    Dear, Dear Sarah,
    Lanterns…what a beautiful vision and picture!
    The Lord is so very kind…though only He touches
    the deepest places of our hearts and souls, He sends His children to show love in ‘earthly’ ways.
    You and your children are loved and cherished by many ❤

  18. Sarah Mullins

    Praying! What a beautiful illustration of God’s tangible mercy through others- lanterns- through the dark and hard. Praying Even Here, Especially Here. I came across this from Prov 31 ministries this morning praying it encourages your heart as it has mine:

    When the hard season we are walking through feels like it will never end, it can be difficult to see God in the midst of it.

    The pain… the fear… the prayers that seemingly go unanswered…

    Sweet friend, you are not walking through this alone. God tells us in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

    God promises us that He is with us, strengthening, helping, and upholding us when we feel we just can’t do it anymore. And we can feel comfort knowing whatever we are walking though today, we are not walking through alone.

    Through our deepest pain, God’s promises remain true.

    On our worst days, God’s heart for us doesn’t change.

    When our prayers go unanswered, God still has a plan for our life.

    In the midst of our fear, God is holding us close.

    God is with you, He loves you and He is for you, friend.

  19. Ashley Emmert

    We are always praying, and we will continue to hold up those lanterns. Love you so, so much. ❤️


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