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A Widow's Tale

Words of Life / Salvation Army
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2020 2:00 am

A Widow's Tale

Words of Life / Salvation Army

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July 19, 2020 2:00 am

Today, Susie is joined by our friend, Sheila Lanier.  In this powerful episode, Sheila shares her testimony of how God brought her through the incredibly difficult tragedy of losing her husband in a car accident. If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, we urge you to listen to her story.

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Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. The chosen cross to bear, I'll trust in you.

Your will, wish I know of for the best. This gives to me abundant peace and rest. I will trust in you.

I will trust in you. Welcome back to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. I'm here with my co-host Bernie Dake. Welcome, Bernie. Hey, Cheryl. Great to be back in the studio with you.

Yes, it is. And Bernie, this is going to be a very special episode. We are in our third week of our new series, Barefoot Cinderella's. And in this episode, our listeners get to hear from an old friend. And that old friend is Lieutenant Colonel Sheila Lanier, who, Cheryl, you are sitting in the seat that she would have been in when she was recording her episodes. Sheila has been on an incredible life journey that involved the loss of a loved one, her husband, Steve, and her own battle with cancer. I think she has a lot to say, particularly to people that are experiencing some of these challenges. I know her story is going to bless you. If you've suffered the loss of a loved one, just wait until you hear her incredible story of God's faithfulness from our friend, Sheila. Hello, I'm Major Susie Erickson with the Salvation Army. And today I'm in the studio with Lieutenant Colonel Sheila Lanier. Welcome.

Thank you. Well, I am just delighted to be here with you today. You know, I think about if there were a beauty pageant for Barefoot Cinderella's, you would definitely take home the crown because you have experienced that Cinderella life on so many levels. But it didn't always start out as a Barefoot Cinderella life, did it? It kind of started out as a fairy tale.

Absolutely. Could you tell us a little bit about what the fairy tale was like before the stroke of midnight? First of all, I was raised in a wonderful home with parents who loved me absolutely and taught me the ways of the Lord and the Word. So, you know, I was blessed to come from a loving home.

When I went to college, I went to a Christian college and was blessed to have good friends and just, you know, enjoying life. And I went home to Dallas, Texas, during Christmas break. And I went to a Christmas party and there was my Prince Charming in the middle of the crowd entertaining, as you could well imagine. And I, you know, I really believe in love at first sight because he just absolutely captivated my heart. He actually was there with a date and he put his date in a car and said good night to her and we went out.

Whoa, okay. I just, you know, what can I say? But we just really had the ultimate love story. And then we became Salvation Army officers together. We were blessed with two beautiful children, a son and a daughter. I mean, we were just loving life.

I can't tell you. We had a great marriage. Our family life was wonderful. Our ministry together was wonderful. I really have been blessed with a Cinderella life. But the stroke of midnight did hit, didn't it?

It did. Can you tell us about that journey? My parents were living, they were retired and living in Charlotte, North Carolina. And we were living in Oklahoma and we went home for Christmas. The day before we were scheduled to come home back to Oklahoma, we went out to the camp that we had shared five summers in North Carolina. And we visited that camp and kind of walked down memory lane together. So we had a wonderful day of not only looking back, but looking forward. And then the next day we left to drive back to Oklahoma.

There was snow on the mountains going across Tennessee. We hit a patch of ice and had an accident and Steve was killed immediately. And it was just a bolt out of the blue that changed life forever for me and for my kids.

And at that moment I became a barefoot Cinderella. My coach turned into a pumpkin very quickly. What did life look like after that? Well, you know, in the Salvation Army you share your ministry. And we had been fortunate to be in appointments where we worked together so closely. And I didn't know who I was without him. I didn't know what my ministry would look like. I didn't know what the Salvation Army would plan for me.

And Steve was so outgoing and so energetic. You know, I wondered who am I without him by my side to kind of, I mean, did I just ride along with him? Or what did I have within me? It was really, you know, apart from the loneliness and the grief and the gut-wrenching sorrow, you know, it was also a time for me to figure out I don't know who I am because I was always we.

Right. So what did you learn about yourself in discovering who you were? Well, I learned that I was a whole lot stronger than I thought I was. You know, shock is a wonderful thing because it protects you from, you know, taking in what's happened all at once because your mind and your spirit, you know, you just can't wrap your head around it.

So it kind of, shock allows it to seep in a little bit at a time. Right. And, you know, you never know how strong you are until you have to be. And I didn't have a choice. For a while I struggled with feeling like I had to work extra hard to prove that I was enough. Right.

By myself. And I had to learn that I didn't have to do that because I was enough. God made me enough.

Right. What did you learn about God in the midst of such pain and suffering? Well, obviously the faithfulness of God. And Steve and I did a lot of music together.

And one of the duets that we traditionally sang was, you know, great is thy faithfulness. And then suddenly those words had to take on meaning. And I think when you go through crisis, you have the faith that you've had your whole life that you've trusted in.

And all of a sudden there are questions that you never thought you would have to ask. The biggest of all being, why? Why God? You know, why him? Why me?

Why us? The real lesson for me was to learn I'm not going to get an answer to that question. And so the task is to learn to live with the questions and not to learn to live expecting answers. And I learned that God, he was going to be there waiting for me because for a while it wasn't necessarily anger or bitterness. It was numbness, just not feeling anything. And then I guess about two months after Steve's death, I came back to North Carolina for youth councils because a group of young people were doing the musical Godspell. And they were going to dedicate the performance to Steve. And my parents picked me up and they were driving me to the location where the musical would be. They had a CD that I had given them that was my utmost for his highest, Brian Duncan. And the song came on, O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee. And then that verse came on, O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee. And those words just, you know, like a bolt, joy that seekest me, because I kept reaching out to God and feeling like I just, I wasn't, I knew he was there, but I just couldn't feel him. And to know that joy would seek me and continually seek me until it found me again. I really learned that God would be faithful to just wait it out with me.

Right. And sometimes when I prayed, it was, I was saying the words, but I said to a friend of mine, I don't understand, I can't, even when I pray, I can't feel God. And she said to me, then this is the time that you just rest on our prayers on your behalf.

So those are some of the things that I learned. If you had a chance today to sit down with a woman who has just lost her husband, whose fairy tale world has just come crumbling down, what would you say to her? You know, sometimes when we sit down with the scripture, we're drawn to passages that are favorites, we're drawn to passages that are easy. But one day, I was in a meeting somewhere and the passage was Lamentations. Nobody ever says, I think I'm going to read the Book of Lamentations. But the message was, I've seen affliction. The rod of the Lord's wrath has driven me away.

I'm walking in darkness rather than light. The Lord has turned his hand against me. He's broken my bones. I mean, it's a hard passage to read. He has dealt with me with bitterness and hardship, like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding. He's dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help.

I mean, it's horrible. And then all of a sudden, in the 21st verse, it says, And yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his passions never fail. Great is your faithfulness. You have to learn to live on this side of yet, because it's easy to live on the side of the bitterness and the brokenness and the heartache and the grief.

You can get stuck there. But if you believe and have hope, you can live on the other side of yet. And yet I will call upon the Lord.

And yet he has been faithful. Be patient with yourself. It's not a matter of you'll get over it. You will not get over it. You learn to live with it.

You get used to its weight. Continue to pray, even when you don't feel like it. Continue to call upon the scripture that you've known, even when sometimes it doesn't feel true.

Keep speaking it until it rings true. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.

And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at radioatuss.salvationarmy.org. Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.

Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia, 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store. And be sure to give us a rating. Just search for the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews, and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake inviting you to join us next time for the Salvation Army's Words of Life. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-03 12:45:22 / 2024-02-03 12:50:25 / 5

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