What Have I Learned this Week?
It's been one of those weeks that make you want to call your loved ones, tell them how important they are to you, why you love them and make sure they hear it on this side of death. It's been that kind of week because within the past 48 hours our church family lost two giants in the faith. As a pastor, it's humbling to be invited into these most intimate moments. You see behind the "Shiny-Sunday-I-am-doing-ok" veneer. You see behind the routine answers to "How are you doing" and you catch a glimpse of the exposed soul. The "self-protecting" answers and the stale masks are gone. What you see is so lovable, so inspirational and so authentic - it's the soul in all its hurts, uncertainties, smiles and happy-hurting moments. It's a clarifying privilege and weighty responsibility when you find yourself observing the sacred tears shared between parents and children. It's the tears of a granddaughter who doesn't fully understand, but understands enough to know that grandma won't be around and see her graduate, learn to drive or for that matter even get past 3rd grade. It's the adult son barely grasping by the force of God's grace, the daunting reality that dad is gone. To stand in those moments and see a snapshot of heaven, moves you. It touches you deeply. You are observing a divine mystery. Divine because it is a powerful image revealing how deep God's love penetrates the heart; mystery because death is unfair. Parent aren't supposed to die. Children aren't supposed to die. Death confronts our faith and asks us, "Will you see this loved one again?" We want to believe with all our might that we will see them again, and with confidence our belief is backed by the glorious resurrection of a majestic Savior who said things like, "I am the living one. I died, but look -- I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave." (Revelation 1:18 NLT) Paul echoed Christ's triumphant message when he penned these words; still resonating through the halls of history with the force of a 1000 charging elephants, "For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. BUT thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NLT) Death, for a moment, may think it has won this cosmic battle against life; but as Christ was raised from the grave overcoming death, we too are promised a greater glory. Romans 8:23, (NLT) declares, "We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us."
I'll cry again.
But the cry turns into a smile and we rejoice in the greater hope!