I’ve learned a few things in the last several months. No matter how prepared you think you are, the death of a loved one will still take you by surprise. It’s nothing less than surreal to know that the only thing that separates him/her from eternity is that one last breath. When the chest heaves for the final time, you can’t snatch the air and give it back to them …and although you are close enough to hold their hand, they will cross the greatest gulf – over which they will never leap again.
And so we are rendered speechless, both in an odd mix of denial and wonder.
That’s when I realized how distracted I am in my little world. The passing of a loved one took me out of the mire of the mundane, even if just for moment, to see the greater realities of life. The impressions I got seemed to overflow as I jotted each down and now want to share with you. Some of these realities include:
The reality of faith – To see a loved one go is to understand that what we believe in this world bears weight in the next. We can’t just sashay through life, simply wearing our faith as a badge. Christian or not, we all have to content with the fact that Jesus Christ claimed to be God. This Man fulfilled over 300 prophesies and defied death with evidence that can’t be ignored. He also happened to claim that no one would go to God the Father except through Him. (John 14:6). Pretty powerful words – so whether we believe it or not, we all have to answer the question: “What will you do with Jesus Christ?” Do you believe He is the Son of God? To be neutral is to reject Him. Given His strong words, I’d say that the reality of faith is immensely important…and not just faith itself, but what and who we believe in. The consequence is too great. Faith matters because eternity matters.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
The reality of heaven – I remember a sermon I heard about heaven a few years ago. It left me so amazed in its description of the glory of God’s eternity that I walked out of church literally feeling like we are living on a tiny crumb liable to blow away. It peeled back my blinded eyes just long enough to see how small we are, long enough to see how our existence is a blip on the radar of this universe. Now, to add to that the knowledge that my mother is there, and that she knows heaven not just intellectually, but experientially is mind-boggling. It became more personal. It’s peaked my interest even more, and now I want to know all I can about this glorious, very real place. I recommend reading the book of Revelation, which describes heaven with as much detail as God would have us know. I also recently picked up John MacArthur’s “The Glory of Heaven”, a book which is as comprehensive and descriptive on the subject as I’ve ever seen.
“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
The reality of the gift of life– If you are or have been a caregiver, you know that it leaves little time for much else. I saw it as privilege, but I ran on adrenaline, bracing myself for the long haul. Down-time felt like spun gold. Since my mother’s recent home-going, I have a sudden increase of time. I want to see this time for the value that it is. I’m thinking of starting a ministry of some sort, perhaps to meet different needs around me and to write more. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am excited to pursue what God would have me pursue.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
The reality of death itself – Death distresses us, not just for the separation it brings, but because it is the sum of the effects of sin. When it arrives, it presses down upon each one of us as the very evident weight of our depravity. As I witnessed my mother fade away, I realized the failure of our own flesh. These bodies of ours, however resilient, however life-supporting, however glamorized or useful, is not really who we are at all. It is merely the wrapping that houses the soul. Without the soul, the body is literally just a shell. It will fail us. It will stiffen and grow cold. No wonder Paul described this packaging as “jars of clay.”…
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
The joy is that we know that we don’t have to have hope in anything corruptible, but we know that the corruptible is cast away. We can look forward to leaving these old shells behind when God Himself gives us a new and glorious body. We look forward to the day when all the suffering, all the pain and struggle will be over, to His great name and glory.
What is it about struggles that allow for greater awareness and spiritual perception? Have you ever noticed that you have heard more from the Holy Spirit when you are in a meditative mindset?