First the bitter.
I’ve never lost a loved one, before today.
Sunken eyes, dragging form cause me to fear this will be the last moments all four of us will be together.
Once we cover recent therapies and medical realities, we hear his hoarse voice faintly say, “I’m reading Job. In chapter 5 today.” Glancing over at the redhead he married 35 years ago. Sitting round the same wooden, kitchen table where we gathered 42 days ago after their sweet boy was killed.
Each of us taking turns with what we took from scripture earlier that morning. Like every other day or dinner we spent together. We were family as usual, in the spiritual sense. Except our subject today was death. None of us wanted to come out and say it. What kind of faith submits to terminal? Aren’t we those who believe in miracles? So, we echoed God instead. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow…”
Words of love, tears, and hugs and it’s never quite enough. Our bodies shaking, hearts breaking because sin is in our blood. And now like grass we’re cut.
That was six days ago and I’m counting days and all the ways he loved God and others. How he loved me. Saving us seats in the last row each week. Praying at my knees for anxiety to leave. For my kids, parents, and everyone’s salvation in between. His one-track-mind giving tracts, preaching gospel goodness so all could be where he was going. And suddenly he’s gone from all of us. Our friend and brother, her husband and lover, their father and Papa. And it’s all too bloody much.
Pulling ourselves together, we drove back to her. Fighting off our fight with death, how it’s making us walk the very same steps. Toward her door, on that same gray porch, where we swung and wept and wrestled her son’s death just 48 days ago!
It’s almost unbearable.
She’s wrung out. Her whole body emptied out. We hug, but I’m pretty sure we’re holding her up.
Are there any tears left after sons are buried and husbands pass? Is there any end to all our grieving? The penalty for unbelieving?
It is written, “every tear will be wiped away”—but not until that day.
Now the sweet.
Our dear, sweet friend is healed and home. Because that’s what Jesus promised before taking on the grave, when we repent of our sin and believe in His name. And, Oh, that name. That earth-shaking name: Jesus Christ the Lord. Who, though the Son of God, never threw His weight around. Leaving splendor and coming down. Christ giving, teaching, healing, bleeding, crying, dying, descending, ascending—the end of all grieving! Oh, if all could only call that Name! Every last one, healed, moments from home.
“Death is no punishment to the believer: it is the gate of endless joy.” – Charles Spurgeon
For now, Grace will keep us as we go and give, grow and heal, bleed and grieve until our bodies let go, our soul goes home. And before we know it, the Lord will wake us. Glorified bodies for the four of us—the host of us—sitting round a golden table prepared for us, by the Father who loved us from dust. Forevermore face to face with the Lord. Incorruptible, unbreakable, inseparable family we will be. Death swallowed up in victory.
If I were to put words in my dear departed’s mouth, straight from the Father would be the only ones he’d want… “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)