(My thoughts this morning are borrowed from a blog I wrote a few days after my Dad died 7 years ago. Today marks 4 months since Bev left earth for one of those rooms in our Father’s house. Bear with me as I muse. My prayer is that the Spirit will teach us how to live with Eternity in view.)
I awakened from a dream where she was there next to me in our bed like she had been virtually every night for 40 years! It was so real I turned to find her only to come into full consciousness and realize anew, “She’s gone, not coming back.” The sadness is like a presence stalking me. I laugh, enjoy a child’s smile, love the sunshine, pray, sing – then it takes me, almost physically holding onto me, paralyzing me for a minute, tears wetting my eyes. I hold books she read and feel a little piece of her with me. I hear others speak of her – friend, teacher, prayer partner, counselor – and know that while she was not perfect, she was wonderful. Of course, I am not the first person to know the pain of grief, but it is my unique journey. I know the process, but this is not rational. It is raw emotion.
So, how I am living through it?
HOPE! It is the one thing that pushes the presence of grief back. I have worn a path to this place of truth in my mind – “we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13, NLT) From the Word I gain many reasons for hope. Primary among them is that there will be a Resurrection that will reunite body and soul and all those who await the coming the Lord! And, too, I believe that God is near, His Presence, a refuge. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!” (Psalm 46:1-3, NLT)
LOVE! It makes this season of my life endurable. I am a blessed man. A wide circle of people have sent notes of love in the weeks since Bev died. Children at our school and church hug me affectionately. Even people don’t know personally stop me in the store or on the street to tell me that they care- and it helps. My kids call and listen to me ramble on. We weep and I feel their love. This loss has reminded me how important it is to have a web of love woven as that proverbial ‘safety net!’
Then, there is LEGACY! Bev spent her life loving others. Laura (her best friend) sent me a note today that recalled her love of teaching and her neatly organized first grade classroom. Christian, a young man in college sent me this note this week – “Mrs. Scott was the most caring teacher of which I ever had the pleasure of being a student. Many fond memories from her 1st grade class; it was obvious to everyone that she truly cared for her students as if they were her own children!” Jay, Sean, Maribel, and Christine remember her gifts, her encouragement, her training, her care – with joy and they call her blessed. Though it’s been almost a year since she stood on our platform at our church singing, people still tell me that they miss her example of worship, her heart open to God as she sang His praises. And, I remember often that it was her steadfast love that held me, anchored me, and helped me to become whatever I am today.
Here’s the thing, friend. It may be a grim thought to you but never the less, it’s true. We are all mortal. We will all eventually leave this time and place. My prayer is that we will know the hope of eternal life, that our lives will be lived so that we will hear our Lord welcome us into His home with the commendation – “Well done!”
But, meanwhile, there is a whole lot of living to do. Tim McGraw sings that we need to “live like you were dyin’!” May those who are left to weep have the comfort of the Resurrection hope because we have walked with Christ and in His grace.
Here is a word from the Word. The Hope of the Resurrection– And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18 NLT)