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Kerry Messer and his son Abram are busy working the halls of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. Lawmakers greet them by name, for Kerry has been meeting and engaging state legislators for the last 30 years, Abram for the last 10. Their duties include lobbying for state and national conservative organizations (including the Missouri Family Network, which Kerry founded). They always show up on the first day of a new state legislative session, but this year it was tough because the session started on Jan. 7, the six-month anniversary of the day Kerry’s wife, Lynn, disappeared.
It defies explanation: On July 7, after a typical day of farm chores and church activities they went to bed around midnight. A nearby lightning strike at 4 a.m. woke Kerry to find Lynn’s side of the bed empty, and all her possessions—purse, shoes, keys, etc.—untouched. After a quick search of their 260-acre property in southeast Missouri the family called the local sheriff’s department and within hours search teams were combing the fields and forests. On July 10, law enforcement finished the official search, continuing the investigation “through other avenues,” while the family expanded its search field to more than 5,000 acres. Kerry has been overtly cooperative during extensive questioning and has been declared above suspicion. The mystery remains as dense as ever: Early reports that Lynn was depressed have been discounted, though she was taking medication for chronic pain in her hips. But no one knows what has become of her.
How to go on, not knowing? With great heaviness, tears, anxieties, and total transparency. Shortly after Lynn’s disappearance, Kerry began a “Find Lynn Messer” Facebook page, where he shares reminiscences, old photos, milestones, prayers, and cries of his heart. Some of the postings are painful to read. He understands that.
Shortly after returning to the state capital he published an open letter in the Missouri Times, in which he thanked his friends on both sides of the political aisle for their prayers and support and asked that they not hold back their questions when they encounter him.
“Do not be concerned about offending in any way,” he wrote. “In the long run it would be better for us to talk openly rather than to pretend things are ‘normal.’” He said that even if he’s overcome with emotion while trying to answer, “please don’t take it personally. Just forbear for a few moments and be assured that we are not upset with you, we are just human.”
To be “just human” is to feel the bottom drop out of our “normal,” to be transfixed in our weakness, frozen in our helplessness. For seven months the Messer family, especially Kerry, have been trusting in the Everlasting Arms—sometimes desperately clinging and other times helplessly cradled. But by the mysterious providence of faith, he knows they are there, even when he doesn’t feel them: “Your plan is better than my short-sighted requests for the obvious. I trust You with the rest of today and tomorrow. I trust You with my bride. And I praise You for … Your sustaining grace on her behalf, wherever she may be.”
One more thing: If you see Lynn Messer, please let Kerry know.
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