We didn’t plan the day out, March 23rd, Zeke’s 1 year of meeting Jesus face to face. How do you plan out such a day? I just wanted the day to stumble into our lives like a Wednesday does a Tuesday. But, there was sure anticipation and expectation and then, we just let it go. God showed up. He put people in my life to share what they did when their family member died far too soon and that helped. He guided our day but it was still extremely hard.
On March 21st of 2014, we were told our Zekey was ‘actively dying’ and were given a very short time that he would be in our arms. It was shocking, no matter how much we knew it was near. It was a relief because my momma’s heart and eyes couldn’t handle watching the suffering anymore. Still, God’s presence was so heavily poured out, surrounding Zekey and our whole family, throughout this intense 3 days, God showed up so boldly- what a gift of grace.
The next day, we decided to have Zekey baptized. We had our closest family and some elders show up. You guys, it was the most heartachingly beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. Being held by Andy and I, Ezekiel Todd Holt was baptized to declare that Jesus was his Savior and to boldly declare to all who would hear his story, Christ won. Sin and disease were crushed by the most humble love. Agape love shown up at The Cross when God’s sending his son to die was manifesting and when Jesus himself obeyed His Heavenly Father and drank our sin, disease and the brokenness of the world. Death no longer had a hold on us- nor does it our Zekey.
I will get pictures up someday. They are powerful. He was able to hear us, hear what we were saying, but unable to respond. We will not go around baptizing our children so young and I won’t go into too much detail but God put it on my husband’s heart and we followed through.
Zekey LOVED Jesus. When I sang, “Your Great Name” by Natalie Grant (this was our song) over him a million times throughout his life, he ‘oooed and ahhhed’ when I said the name of Jesus. When we prayed, and when he could still talk we would say, “Jesus…I” He would reply “AH” (for ‘I’) I would say, “love” and he would finish, “ooooo” (for ‘you’). The name of Jesus brought him peace and joy. It was powerful.
That night, on March 22nd 2014, our kids said goodbye to their brother, lying in bed next to him, hating Batten disease, loving their Zekey-Zoo-Zoo and wishing the two never met. Watching my children all in the same bed for the last time was as hard as it gets. My worst nightmare, continuing to come true. I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy.
But stronger than the ache of those goodbyes, those last hugs, kisses and words, prayers, lies a Hope so great, it’s all that gets me through. It’s all that gets all of us who miss Zekey through.
Hope isn’t anything without Jesus. Hope is just a word without the Cross. Life has no meaning, nothing to grasp onto that is eternal except through Jesus. It will all fail you, they will all fail you, you will fail you, but Hope in Jesus has the power to overcome anything because Jesus, once dead, is now alive for you, for me. Powerful.
Tonight, exactly one year after speaking at my son’s funeral, we stood in the exact same spot, our family together, hands of pastors and elders over us praying as we were commissioned to ‘go’ by God from Toledo, Ohio to Columbus, Ohio to plant a church and share Jesus with those who we will encounter in the city. It was a powerful time but it wasn’t until the day started to slow down, and evening came did I feel a serious ache. I didn’t know where it was coming from because it was such a good day, so much to look forward to and celebrate.I felt as if God grabbed my face in His loving, gentle, strong hands and said, “You lost your son and buried him on this day, this is why you are sad and it’s okay, love.”
And then it hit me and the days’ events rushed over me like video playing back. At the very same spot Zekey’s old, broken body was in a casket, on the same date, March 29th, was God showing yet again, His hand in our story, His Great Story through us, to continue to share it with others and to usher people into His kingdom. We didn’t plan this, God did. Redemption. A beautiful but painful journey of Redemption that we will live out until our last day, or when Jesus returns.
Thank you, Roxanne for capturing this powerful moment- now you know how great my thankfulness is!
And I sobbed and told Andy and we both just sat in amazement. You guys, God keeps using Zekey’s life, his powerful story to speak to us and it’s loud and it’s clear and we are so blessed by it. The combination of being able to hear His voice as he uses our most precious, His precious Zekey….what love and grace! What a blessing for us as his parents, to feel God’s hand through our Zekey. I know God through Zekey’s life is speaking to many of you, but God’s using his life to speak to us, too. And that’s kind of refreshing. We are so excited for what He’s doing and how He’s always at work, turning our broken into beautiful.
I am amazed by God so often. His mercy and reminding me where Zekey dwells and what our reason for being here really is: to share our stories of redemption and Hope, all pointing to the best answer for all of us- Jesus Christ.