Part four of a seven-part series on my visit to Calvary Chapel of the Coastlands, Hannah Overton’s home church. When I first wrote this, back when I went to Corpus Christi and met her family, she’d already missed so many moments with them. Three more years have passed since then. Please keep praying.
After the first session, I came back to my room and found this picture waiting for me in my inbox. My cousin, Tracy Willms, had sent it to me — a memento from my visit last September.
That reunion was 26 years in the making. Though much time had passed and we’d walked very different paths, when he called me out of the blue one morning last April, we talked for three hours and caught up on key moments we’d both missed. By the time we said good-bye, I’d almost forgotten the years we’d lost.
Then in September, I went to southern California for a pastors’ wives conference and to do a bit of writing-related work, and I finally got my face-to-face reunion with this favorite cousin. Sitting at his house, talking and laughing with him, I’d watch his face and sometimes catch glimpses of the boy he once was, back when life’s challenges were small. I remembered afternoon barbecues, and running at dusk in our uncle’s backyard. I remembered one surreal winter night when, without any discussion or planning, we both snuck out of our homes (just blocks away) at midnight and spent an hour playing in the snow together. I remembered the last night I saw him, just before he left to join the navy, and how the boy changed into a man right before my eyes. And I was glad for those memories, but glad too that we had time now to make new ones.
Sitting in my condo in Corpus Christi, with this picture on my laptop screen, I did think of all we missed in each other’s absence, but then I thought of how good God is. I thought of His words in Joel 2:25, when He promised to “restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” And that so naturally turned my thoughts back to Hannah … and the realization of all she was missing. While she sits in a cell she didn’t earn, her boys are getting taller; her girls are growing up. And she’s missing it, except for snippets she grasps and treasures when they visit.
Chase away the locusts, God. They’ve consumed enough. Bring the reunion Hannah longs for. Let the next picture be of that moment when she’s engulfed in the arms of Larry and Isaac, Isabelle, Ali, Sebastian and baby Emma. And when she’s holding the ones she misses most, let the memory of their absence fall away. Restore what she’s lost, Lord.
Header photo by Dan Winters, tmdaily.com