O death, where art thou sting?

Image1With walking this trail with my dad, it has brought to the forefront the sometimes brutal reality of what “seems” the finality of death. Death to some is the unknown, the abyss. It can be horribly frightening. However, with Christ we can thank God that through Him, death is the bridge to a place called home.

A place called Heaven.

Hebrews 13:14 reads – “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.”

Sometimes, that is a reality that can be easily forgotten in the current comfort and bright lights that surrounds us here.

Let’s face it, we will all die someday. When walking through these trails, it is inevitable, it will cross your mind. But thanks be to God who sent His Son on our behalf that we would not perish, but have eternal life.

O death, where art thou sting?

However, I remember a time not too long ago where I was paralyzed by the fear of death. It literally kept me up at night. Until, one night I stumbled across the following scripture…

It comes from Hebrews 2:14. “…Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could He deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

That night I became free from this fear.

Several years would pass when I would be faced with that same fear…

Here is my reflection from that night:

(Feb. 20, 2003)

The lights of the city reflected brightly off the clouds covering the night’s sky as a light mist fell with a cool breeze. I stood there with my eyes welling up with tears.

Through two sets of doors with windows sat my dad in a wheelchair waving goodbye as my mom prepared to wheel him back to his room. It hit me again, the sad reality of my dad’s current condition.

Noticing my tears, my daughter looked up at me and spoke these words.

“It’s ok daddy, poppa Bill will feel better in Heaven.”

Words could not describe the conviction in her voice. My heart did not see those words coming.

I paused for a moment as we began to walk toward the car. For a moment, I was not even sure what these tears meant anymore.

(Her conviction was that of one who knows that they know that they know that this is truth. I was captivated by her conviction. Perhaps, this is what temporarily confused my tears.)

My reply to her simple yet profound statement gripped me with a feeling that felt so right.

“We all will.”

(My voice was not a voice of one who was trying to take this opportunity to teach, but one that was just beginning to realize that it was just taught.)

Again, I paused. I did not expect to say those words.

As I continued my journey over to my car, I took my daughter’s hand and I silently reflected on what I just said. As we reached our car, we stood and paused. As the mist continued to fall and a light breeze brushed against us, I repeated those three words.

“We all will.”

And with a sense of resolve, we got into the car and began our journey back home.

As I turned the ignition to start my car, the following verse came to mind:

Revelation 21:4 says this about heaven: “He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.”

The truth is that one day we won’t look back, we’ll just feel better (so to speak)

In Heaven, we will receive the inheritance we were created to receive.

His presence. (can you imagine?)

Tell me this I pondered while driving through what seemed to be a 6-way intersection.

“Could anything ever feel better than that?”

“No.”

“Why then settle for anything less?”

Psalm 15:5 – “Lord, You alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.”

There is something about hearing a word from the mouth of a babe that cuts through all of our “adult-speak” and stops us in our tracks.

Feel better…

In this case, it was not just what she said, but how she said it. She knew that she knew that she knew. It’s funny how two words like feel better can lead you down a trail that places you in the presence of the King of Kings. It’s funny how three words like we all will can end up being a lesson not for the teacher (my daughter), but for the student (you guessed it, me).

Please don’t get me wrong. Heaven is real, Heaven is our home. However, sometimes in the heat of the moment you can temporarily lose your perspective, fear will try to overcome you. The fear of the mystery of death.

Kira just brought me back to the “real” reality of my dad’s condition. He will be home soon, and that’s a good thing. I just hated to see him in so much pain. She brought me back to the point found earlier in Hebrews. It was like, what’s the worry dad, Poppa Bill is going to a better place.

This thought causes me to reflect deeper…

Sometimes we get so caught up in the things of this world that we get too comfortable.

The reality is this:

The book of Psalms reads.”We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth for someone else to spend.” Psalm 39:6

It reads later in verse 12 this.”Hear my prayer, O Lord! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears. For I am Your guest – a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me.”

A potentially sobering thought indeed. But all is not lost. There is more to life than living and dying. There is a hope, and this hope can be found in Jesus. This is a hope that I believe that my dad in his own quiet and personal way had grasped. It is a hope we prayed about the last night I saw him in a conscious state.

When your trust is placed in this hope you can be assured of this:

This is Jesus speaking…

John 14:1 – “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you.”

Hebrews 13:5 – “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

Rest assured this place…this is home, and at home there is no more crying or pain, or death or sorrow. Could anything ever feel better than that?

Please allow me to fast forward a few weeks…

Today is Tuesday March 11 and Kira just made a card for dad. On it there is a picture of a crown. Then with a raising of the eyebrows, a wave, and a prayer of surrender we said goodbye. I told my dad I loved him and he replied with I love you too. His voice barely slurring the words out. But that didn’t matter, I could see it in his eyes. From there, we waved and left the room.

Two days later my dad was wearing that crown and feeling better I am sure.

Because this I know…when you are in the presence of the King..

You are home.

And truly.

There is no place like home!

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