Dead, Buried, and Alive!

 

faith1As Tuesday evening came, Bev left. The children and I gathered ‘round her and waited: helpless and hopeful. As I held her, her heart fluttered, her breathing slowed and then, she was gone.  One moment the body was alive, the next, lifeless. As I laid my head on her tiny frame, my own heart felt like it would stop. Grief stalks me, catching me like prey in a lion’s claws. It mauls me and leaves me battered. I dread the coming hours. We will carry that body to the top of the mountain and tenderly place it in the ground. I will hear words I have spoken at hundreds of gravesides – “ashes to ashes, dust to dust … in the certain hope of the Resurrection” and it will be The End.

Except that it isn’t! Bev lives. “Oh, yes,” you say, “she lives in her children, in our memories.” True enough. Even as I write memories interrupt me, pulling my thoughts to years past and places we knew.  But, when I say she lives I mean it in fact. Bev is gone but not like a flame extinguished. Her body is lifeless, but the spirit lives in the Presence of God.  I am not just dreaming that so I can avoid ‘reality.’ Jesus came to Bethany to meet two sisters who were grieving and angry. “We called you to come to heal our brother,” they told Him, “but You did not! Now, he is dead, buried four days!” Jesus gave them a miracle I do not expect, raising Lazarus from the grave.  In the middle of that story, He made a declaration that I am holding onto today. “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (John 11:25-26, NLT)

In faith I receive the Word, inspired and hopeful, where I read that “if earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. …  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-7, NIV)

Yes, at this moment, I would prefer to have Bev’s ‘earthly tent’ still intact! I loved that beautiful assortment of carbon atoms in which her spirit lived for 61 years. But, I am comforted by the knowledge that she is no longer in a temporary dwelling, but is at home in the Father’s house, a ‘heavenly dwelling.’  She is eternal, beautiful in a way I can scarcely imagine, and beyond the reach of suffering and death.

So, I will bury her body today with tearful hope. I will leave it to decay, trusting in the mystery of faith, that in some glorious moment, the trumpet will sound to announce the end of time and God will reassemble and resurrect that body to complete the work of salvation.  “The dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal.

Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!” (1 Corinthians 15:52-58, The Message)

So, for now, until my life is over, I must deal with the sorrow and the loss that her dying has left to me.  Gradually, I suppose, the ache will lessen and memories will recede, emerging occasionally to make me cry.  I will see reflections of my Bev in our children. I will dream of her. I will be reminded of her in a hundred ways each day.  And, I will hope, ready for that day when my own earthly tent will be folded up and laid in the ground and my spirit will slip through a rip in time and into the Presence of God to live in a house not made by human hands!  Oh, Glorious Day!


How Great Is Our God

 The splendor of the King,

Clothed in majesty,

Let all the earth rejoice,

All the earth rejoice!

He wraps Himself in light,

And darkness tries to hide,

And trembles at His voice,

And trembles at His voice.

 

How great is our God;

Sing with me,

How great is our God;

And all will see how great,

How great is our God!

 

And age to age He stands

And time is in His hands;

Beginning and the End,

Beginning and the End.

The Godhead -three in one-

Father, Spirit, Son-

The Lion and the Lamb,

The Lion and the Lamb.

 

How great is our God;

Sing with me,

How great is our God;

And all will see how great,

How great is our God!

 

Name above all names,

Worthy of all praise,

My heart will sing,

How great is our God!

 

Chris Tomlin | Ed Cash | Jesse Reeves

© 2004 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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