I sit here at my computer with my requisite coffee, looking out my window at the grass greening up, the trees budding out, and the squirrels playing in the yard, and I see new life everywhere. I love springtime. I love the fresh hope springtime reignites in my heart. Even today, what would have been my son’s 27th birthday, fresh hope blooms in my heart. Hope that I’m healing from the loss; hope that my family will heal; hope that we will be reunited with our son/brother someday; hope that Jesus will return soon.
One of the things Dan said to me when Israel was first gone was that death was never in God’s original plan. That struck me as probably true when he said it. I had never considered it before my son passed away, and I had to deal with grief deeper than I had ever imagined. Hope and grief. These constant conflicting emotions I carry around with me everyday make living life difficult. His birthday is harder this year than it was last year. This is the his 2nd birthday we will celebrate without him. It is a very strange thing that the 2nd year is harder. I’ve been told that this is because the first year after a sudden, tragic loss, is spent in shock. I believe that. I’m living it. The shock, disbelief and grief are no longer the focal point of the pain. The actual loss is front and center and will not be denied any longer. The person we lost is missed so much, and the hole is felt so deeply. There will never be another him, and he will not be returning to us, like he did when he was in the Navy, stationed in Japan. The edges of the jagged hole left in our hearts is scabbing over, but the hole is still here, still bleeding, still causing deep and abiding pain. But, there is also deep and abiding peace and joy from the Lord, from knowing where our son is and, and from knowing that we will join him some day, and there will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more sorrow.
He was born the evening before Easter morning. I love Easter and the hope of new life it brings. I’ve experienced new life several times in my life. I was “born again” into the Christian faith when I was 17 years old, and experienced a radical transformation in a millisecond of time. I have first-hand knowledge of Colossians 1:13, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”. I was acutely aware of my transference from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Christ. It was a moment I will never forget, and will forever be grateful to God for. I became a new creation that hot August evening. It was like God picked me up, kissed me on the forehead, turned me around in the opposite direction, and said, “Let’s go this way.”, and I’ve never turned back. Why would I? Darkness vs. the kingdom of God? Not a hard choice, in my mind!
I’ve also experienced new life five other times, bringing each one of my children into this world. Each time was the most amazingly beautiful spiritual experience I’ve ever had. I felt like God was calling my children into the world each time I gave birth. Each birth was unique, each child created for a purpose, each one given to us for a reason. God is working in and on each of us, whether we are aware of it or not, bringing about the purposes and reasons He created us for. Could it be that my middle son was created by God, given to my husband and I to raise, and called by God to do what he was created for in the heavens, and not here on earth? I believe it could be. That is a difficult reality to come to grips with, but I believe it could be. And, I will trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding regarding this occurrence in my life, just like every other occurrence in my life.
All this hope and new life and expectation of good to come can only be because of Jesus and His gift of salvation brought about by His obedience to God when He laid down His life and died on the cross 2000 years ago. A few short weeks before he died, Dan and I had a conversation with our son about this. I smile every time I remember that evening, and the look of astonishment and realization on his face during that conversation. I had talked about this many times with each one of my kiddos, individually and as a group in our homeschool. But, this time it seemed to click in my son’s mind, and it brought me great joy to see the realization light up his countenance. I suppose I had never explained it so simply before, or maybe the moment was just right and he “heard” it for the first time. He had made an under-his-breath sarcastic statement about Jesus, which I chose to ignore. (Raising five teenagers teaches you to ignore a lot of things!) I don’t remember what the comment was, but I remember it seeming like an invitation to argue my case with him, so I did. I simply said, “Jesus is God – the eternal, uncreated God – a spirit, like God. He lived in heaven with God, His heavenly Father. God loves us so much and wants us to live eternally in heaven with Him, but we can’t because of our sin and sinful nature. We can’t even begin to be good enough to become His children, so we need someone to make us good enough. He sent Jesus to the earth to become like us – a human being – He took on flesh, the very same flesh He created, but had never worn. Then He took our sin, and the sins of every human being He created, upon Himself as he hung on the cross and died a horribly cruel and painful death – a death He did not deserve to die. He did this – left His home in heaven, took on human flesh, lived 30+ years without ever sinning, took every sin of every person ever created on Himself to the cross, died a horrible death, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. Why? So He could make a trade with you. He traded His perfect righteousness for your sinfulness. An undeserved, unfair trade that He makes because He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever. But, every man dies. What makes Jesus different and able to be our sacrifice for our sins is that God raised Him from the dead. He came out of that tomb, still in the flesh, and walked around here on earth for 40 days. Then He ascended to heaven, while His followers watched. He is not dead any longer. He is in heaven again, with His heavenly Father, and here is one of my favorite parts – “He ever lives to make intercession for us”. He constantly prays for us – constantly! Wow! And, what do we have to do to get this amazing gift? Believe in Him, and accept His gift of salvation. That’s it. Just believe He did what He says He did – came, took on flesh, died, rose again, loves you, wants you, and bought you with His own blood.”
He looked at me like he’d never heard those words before, then smiled a sweet, understanding smile. He never said anything, but that was his way. I will never forget it.
My son is doing what he was called to do. I don’t understand it, but I entrusted him to God long before God called him home. I will keep trusting God in this, even when I think I can’t let him go (even though letting him go is a moot point).
Jesus did what God called Him to do, and is still doing what God called Him to do. He did it for you and me and every single human being He ever created. All we have to do is believe He is telling the truth about it!
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” John 14:6
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe that?'” John 11:25
“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:1-13