There have been a lot of things lately that have taught me and challenged my beliefs in the area of suffering and especially in the area of death. The book by Mary Beth Chapman, music I had written coming back up in my life, a book about Brokenness, even a seemingly random newsletter from a missionary, all are driving home the point that the line we cross from earth to heaven when we die is so very thin. That space between is just…like a door of mist instead of this confusing and thick barrier I had imagined. I guess I’m just trying to say that Heaven feels closer than ever, and I feel like God wants me to understand just how transient, how able to move and pass through, we frail humans are. I feel like He wants me to grasp that it’s okay, that it’s normal, that it’s not as much to grieve about as I think. We were destined for that all of a sudden passage, and in my mind I can absorb that with some sense of understanding and thankfulness, but the hard part is that we are only transient in one direction. We cannot so easily pass back.
That probably sounds ridiculous. But I can see why saying we are a vapor, a mist, makes complete sense. We are as real as water (we even are so much water!) but this is just our body for a while…not our Life. Our expectation of health and longevity only can be agreement with the Lord’s expectation for so long…at some point our belief about all this, all we expected, even for our kids sometimes, breaks down. Again, I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me, but I think this is part of learning humility to accept and even accept joyfully that we are frail and destined to make that passage. I do imagine a river and I do see friends and family passing through it to the other side, and I do see a lot of joy. And I see that those of us remaining here on this side are not very far from them at all. Just a mist separating us.
I guess I really want to say that when the Lord takes me, I know that there will be some people who are sad but I pray that however I go, that everyone knows I was created to go and I’m not far at all. This time is just a prelude to our lives. We were really never meant to get so attached. Perhaps living in surrender (which should be our goal) is really God just preparing us for a life and theology not built by what we want all this to be about, but what it is all about.
So, one more thing to add to the list of God revealing frailty and the reality of us passing so easily from earth to heaven: Selah and I went to a funeral today for a family who is grieving the death of their tiny baby. She was 26 weeks in the womb. I only knew a couple of people there, but I just felt, “This is the family of God. These people are grieving with hope.” It was very worshipful, giving God glory, thanking Him for everything humbly…and at the same time, there were lots of tears. What I saw was surrender, not pretending things were great, but trusting the Lord. I am convinced that is beautiful and priceless to Him. A girl sang a song about Heaven and how we’ll just fall down and thank Jesus for the cross. YES! That’s what this is all about. We can’t only think about that at funerals. I am sensitive to Selah seeing too much sadness and death, but today it was fitting for her to go with me. Her friend was the older sister of the baby who had went to be with Jesus, and Selah and this little girl held hands and even held each other throughout the service. I feel like I watched the body of Christ in action, with Selah, the singer, the pastor, friends and family ministering…I was such a bystander and learner.
I am not always proud of the family of God or the body of Christ around me. I realize how that sounds, but I’m not always proud of myself as part of it either, that is for sure! Sometimes I feel like the North American “Christian” thing is not the “Christian” thing the persecuted church or rest of the Body worldwide experiences because we often find the wrong things to get busy doing or focus on. In fact, I think we are so wrong that even our right actions are just digging us out of a deep hole. MERCY. But I’ll digress about that simply to say that TODAY I saw the family of God and the body of Christ right here in Elizabethtown, and it was beautiful. Dealing with bad news and grief is never what we would choose, but it is the reality of this world, promised in the Word, and God is THERE with them…and us, when it is our time of grief. We don’t ask for opportunities like this so that God will come near, we just don’t do that, it would be crazy; but nonetheless, He is near to the brokenhearted, so when we can’t find Him, that might be where we should look, and so running scared from heartache might not be the position we should take! We have a security and excitement in life or in death…We have one thing that will be transient with us…Jesus. And if He is our One Thing here and now, we can see death in a different light.