I’ve entitled this blog entry The Vacant Chair — a title that’s not original with me, but the title of a poem I’ll add to this post in a moment. The poem was written by a dear saint, the husband of a precious friend who passed into heaven earlier this year.
It’s interesting that the poem should come in the mail today… as I have been thinking of several different ones who have ‘vacant chairs’ at their tables again this year. I think of the mothers and fathers who stand at the glass watching for the wayward son or daughter, hoping he or she will be home to occupy his or her chair at the table this year. I think of the families who won’t have a baby to hold, a parent to care for, a friend to visit at Christmastime… more empty chairs. I think of friends who have a vacant womb — bruised heart this Christmastime.
I think of families who will visit and look into the vacant, dim eyes of loved ones with vacant minds — long ago leaving vacant chairs. I think of couples with vacant chairs of children they never bore or only hold in their hearts. I think of those whose choices keep them afar off — who’ll not be home again this year — vacant chairs. I think of those whose husbands are off fighting in a war they never wanted to fight — the family tables with a vacant chair again this year. I think of friends or family who’ve moved away and they’ll miss sitting in the chairs around a familiar table this year. I think of mothers and dads who’ve married off a son or daughter this past year — a sweet sadness may wash over them — as they set tables with fewer chairs. And there are innumerable other scenarios… innumerable empty chairs. Vacant chairs will tell many stories… some, only in the heart.
The Vacant Chair was written by a loving, faithful husband whose eyes are growing dim, but whose memory is sweet and keen: for a wife who lived such a remarkable, long, full life — occupying the chair beside him for some sixty-seven years.
I love you dear with all my heart,
True love was ours to share,
God has called you to His Home,
I’m left with a vacant chair.
I think of things I’ve done today,
My toil and my care;
I praise the Lord you’re free from pain,
But I’m left with a vacant chair.
The day will come, I’ll join you there,
In Heaven, bright and fair,
We’ll praise the Lord, with all our heart,
And there’ll be no vacant chair!
Paul R Turnidge
From Paul’s Christmas letter, I’ll leave you with this very encouraging thought:
God has shown Himself wonderful to me. Every day I am amazed how He directs my path. Sometimes I look through my windshield of life and wonder where I’m going, then I look in the rear view mirror and see how far I have gone, and amazingly exclaim, “Surely the Lord has led me.””