Rachel Maggie Michelle Ort Leazenby

A couple weeks ago I tuned in the local christian radio station just in time to hear the announcer guy say.. here is a new song from Steven Curtis Chapman.  Before I heard the first chord, the first word, I knew what the song would be about. “Heaven in the Face of my little girl”. My heart hangs on these words. Like everyone I know, I was so heart broken for Steven and his family when the news of his daughter’s death was announced. My Rachel and I had talked about it. We loved Steven’s music and had gone to a couple of his concerts together and often listened to his tunes in the car together. The irony of the “cinderella” song was not lost on us. “The clock strikes midnight, and she is gone”.

Not long after, my little girl would be gone…

Several months ago I started looking around for articles and stories Steven might have written to get a glimpse of how God might be speaking to Steven and his family through the tragedy. I found nothing. That makes a lot of sense to me, I can barely say my Rachel’s name without crying still.

Those close to me know that I have undergone a complete heart reconstruction that began the night Rachel died. The changes are a daily reality for me. When I became aware of what God was doing, I thought, “Father is now really the time to make me face all these ugly realities about myself ? My daughter is dead… not now”.

One of the things I learned was God will and does use everything that happens on this planet to it’s fullest potential. Even the death of my daughter.

The Gift.

Before I had even left the accident scene, I knew that God had a purpose for Rachel “going home” when she did. When I say I knew, I am speaking about a knowing that came from somewhere other than myself. I had a choice, God was either in control of this planet and life in ways I did not understand or it’s all a terrible lie, cruelty and tragedy are all that is left.

I chose God. ( or He chose me )

From that heart breaking moment on, I have witnessed and experienced a number of personal miracles. These moments when I am completely sure God is letting me see Him in unusual ways. Mostly its been people. Unexpected people. People I don’t know. I now operate on a sort of “high alert”. Where is He going to show up next ?

There is a constant in all of this. It is His wonder & beauty that I now see. I am finding much of what I have experienced difficult to describe but God seems different to me now. There is this tenderness, almost childlike innocence and Holiness that I never experienced before. The mere thought of disappointing Him breaks my heart again.

Everything that God does is purposed to draw us closer to Himself. To pull us out of the burning building that we now experience as life on earth. There is little if anything that distracts Him from this goal. Once we’re out, He allows us to join Him in pulling our brothers and sisters out. This is also a gift. He wants to lavish on us a heaping pile of  treasures we have stored up in heaven for when we get there.

I believe Rachel’s treasure chest in heaven was full to overflowing, running over. My Father in heaven knows why now was the right time to take her home. I trust Him with that. He was not surprised when she arrived. There was a celebration and a “well done my child”.

2 Corinthians 4:14-18  –   5:1-7

14 And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. 15 Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!16 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.17 These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.18 There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

1 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade2 —and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies!5 The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.6 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead.7 It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going.