It has come…that quiet moment when everyone has finally left Serenity after lots of noise, many tears and lots of jubilant celebration, too. My father gently passed from this life to an infinitely better one in the early hours of December 5th—29 days ago. Since that moment there’s hardly been another gentle moment, as a memorial service, that ended up being in the midst of a snowy blizzard (that my father would have loved), was planned and executed, albeit with far fewer present to memorialize than we had envisioned. Roads were closed that morning in Jacksonville, Alabama, and metaphorically, lots of roads in my world have remained closed from that day to this one.
The road to reflection has been mostly blocked by the hubbub of cherished family in my house. The road to gratitude has been largely closed because it has so many lanes—so many people I need to profoundly thank—that the job of thankfulness that I love has been overwhelming and has been mostly “on hold.” The path of Bible study and prayer has been a rocky one, too; so many interruptions each time I’ve been in the “kneeling” position before the Word or in petition before Him. Mountains of laundry, cooking, cleaning up messes made by children whose company, hugs and antics I would not trade for anything—all of these have been tasks that have lovingly blockaded more peaceful, but often painful jobs. I’m very thankful for holiday “stress” this year. It somehow masked the pain that, even in the midst of the hurrying, sometimes crept into the recesses of heart and memory. I could easily postpone an aching heart in the ministry to family and I am thankful for that dulling of the ache. There was very little sleep during the holidays, but I mostly exchanged that for uninterrupted celebration…and that was a good thing.
But here’s the day of quietness. I am sitting here in this house that’s totally plundered—still littered with baby crumbs, wrapping paper, puppy toys and unfolded laundry, but the quiet is deafening now. There’s a CPAP machine in the closet that needs to be returned, clothing that’s my dad’s that needs…what does it need, anyway?…throwing out? (That’s for another day.) There are death certificates that must be mailed and there’s a tax form that must be FOUND. (Why am I always paying a price for being so scattered?) I know now’s the time I’ve anticipated, both fondly and with dread.
I also know that there is absolutely NO reason for sadness. My father was ninety-five. He was a faithful Christian. He has a new body that never hurts or struggles. He is united with my mother and loved ones. He is, in short, perfected…fit for heaven. His transport was with angels. His destination of complete rest and bliss has been reached. So why should I be sad? I know there are those of you who are reading who would give anything to be in my shoes regarding deceased parents.
The sadness, of course, is all wrapped up in the human struggle. Death, without the power that is in the resurrection of Jesus, stings (I Corinthians 15:54-57). Death, in a battle against humanity, is always the victor. But, in a battle where Christ is on my side, death is the victim. It is powerless.
So faith in Him—Bible study, prayer, viewing Him in the circumstances of providence around me, the strength of fellowship—FAITH is what I so desperately need in the shadow of the death of one so loved. And I will persevere to grow in the faith that overcomes the sting that can be masked, but not erased without Jesus, the Victor.
Until you get your note, thank you to hundreds who have reached out in so many ways. You have sent messages of condolence in email, phone texting and Facebook. You have contributed to the scholarship fund that honors the memory of our mother and dad. You have sent postal cards and letters by the scores (I’m sure there are a couple of hundred in there in my big porcelain bowl.) Children have drawn happy pictures and groups of Diggers have sent cards and even gifts. I am immersed in comforting fellowship and blessed beyond measure. Your prayers have been the greatest of gifts.
So, in the words of my three-year-old grandson, Ezra, “Why are you sad? We should be happy if Piedaddy is with Jesus. I would like that.”
Here’s the latest conversation in our Bible time from last Sunday night.
Me: “Ezra, we are going to Piedaddy’s house tomorrow for our Christmas.”
Hannah: “But you know Piedaddy will not be there.”
Ezra: “Because he is in heaven with Jesus. And that man in the box at Piedaddy’s Bible class was not really Piedaddy. It was just not him.”
Hannah: “Well, it was just a little part of him. The real Piedaddy is with Jesus. And he is not sick anymore. And he can run and jump and play.”
Ezra: “You mean he does not have to have his walker anymore, even?”
Me: “Right. He can do anything he wants to do and he is very happy.”
Hannah: “And when we get through living here, we will get to go be with him and it will be so happy!”
Ezra: “But how will we get there?”
Me: “Well, one day there will be a very loud trumpet that blows and we will look up and we will see Jesus coming in the clouds and we will get to fly up there and meet him.”
Ezra: “Will we get to go in a helicopter?”
Me: “No, we will get to fly just like a bird with nothing to take us.”
Ezra: “You mean it will be like a super-hero?”
Ben: “Yes, like a super-hero.”
Me: “And we will just fly on to heaven with Him.”
Ezra: “But I “fink” that loud trumpet will be ‘keery’” (scary).
Hannah: “ Oh no, you will love it. All of us will be there with you and when you get through flying, everyone you love will all be in the same place.”
Glenn: “Oh no, Ezra. You will not be scared. I promise. You will be so excited to see Jesus. And then when we get to heaven, there will never be anything else to make us sad or hurt us.”
Hannah: “You will never fall and skin your knee. You will never get sick and have a fever.”
Me: “You will never get burned by any stove or fire. You will never cough or cry or hurt at all.”
Ezra: “Well, that will be great, but I still think “dat woud twumpet will be a wittle keery.”