Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Life and Death

Ladies, what really matters in life?

It's 10:11pm, and I am ready for bed....sorta. My body is exhausted and ready for sleep, but my mind is rolling on and on and on. It's been a .............hard..........day.

I wasn't sure what word to put there; "hard" day? "difficult" day? "unique" day? It's not quite describable.

I know I'm not writing very well right now. Kinda aimless and vague. I'm trying to gather my thoughts.

Last night, about this time, I was sitting in this exact same spot when the phone rang. Mom answered it.

The house was already quiet. Some of the family was already asleep. Mom and I had just been laughing our heads off over a funny predicament that I had gotten myself into. We laughed so hard we cried.

Then the phone rang.

It was our pastor.

....There is a family in our church that I've kinda grown up with. Met them when I was 14. They have 7 children; close to the ages of my siblings and myself. Four girls in their twenties. Three boys in their teens.

A happy family; the kind that always has their corner of the room roaring in laughter over something every Sunday afternoon.

A dramatic family; the kind that always has something happening, whether it's a car accident, a new birth in the family, emergency tonsil operation, or somebody rolling the car over somebody else's foot.

A Christian family; the kind that has one daughter married to a preacher boy, one daughter married to a Romanian missionary, one daughter working for a ministry that reaches out to orphans, and other children who have a heart for God and long to witness for Him and serve him.

A generous family; the kind that welcomes new-comers and wants to make them feel at home.

The mother of the family is our pastor's oldest child. We have a lot of people in our church who are related to each other. ....And the rest of us feel like we're related anyway.

The father of the family is a former marine. A big man - towering over most of the other men, at several inches past 6 feet. A man with a deep voice, but a quiet one. A man who can run a backhoe and lead music for the congregation. A man who can boss his boys around like a drill Sargent and constantly tease his wife, but who does it all with a heart of love and who has a soft spot for any hurting thing.

Pastor called to say this man - his son-in-law - had died.

The rest of the evening stands out sharply in my mind. Every moment. Every word ....every silence. For, indeed, we could hardly speak to each other. We sat there, waiting for the phone to ring again, to hear someone say it was just a terrible April Fool's Day joke. We looked at the floor and asked one another how this could be happening. How could he be dead? We just saw him at church on Sunday, the day before. He had stood in front of the sanctuary as his little granddaughter - his first granddaughter - was dedicated. Dad had just shaken hands with him as they left church. He had just been saying how he is recovering from his minor heart surgery several weeks ago, and hasn't felt so healthy and full of energy in years. How could he be dead?

God knew this was coming. He prepared our whole church. The Sunday School lesson on Sunday was about trusting God when bad things are allowed to come into your life. The sermon was about how we have the hope of resurrection, because Christ rose.

But we were still in shock.

His poor wife. ....A widow, so young. And his daughters - my dear friends. Two of them are unmarried. Then will never have their daddy walk them down the aisle. Their boys....still growing up....without a dad.

Oh, my heart breaks.

I didn't process the thought that night; just held it in my mind and turned it over and over, like a morsel of food too hot to put in my mouth and chew. I envied him, in heaven at last. The reality of heaven was burned in my mind. The reality of life and death. I thought of all the things he will miss here. I thought. And thought.

But I couldn't believe.

This morning, I saw a picture on facebook of my friend - his daughter. She published the picture of her and her dad, taken a several months ago. Her smiling face, looking at the camera. He stands behind her, with both arms around her shoulders and protectively clasped in front of her, grinning at the camera too.

I felt a lump rise in my throat, and my eyes grew moist. My mouth got tight and I had to walk away.

My dad called just then. He calls every morning to say hello to us, since he leaves the house before we wake up.

I took the phone. And I said good morning. ...But I couldn't really talk. As soon as I heard his voice - my daddy, alive and well - I couldn't keep talking. All I could do was pass the phone on, grab some tissues, and run outside. I sat on the back deck and wept my heart out. Wept for my friends, and all they will miss.

I do not grieve for him. Not at all. I envy him. I long to be where he is.

I trust the Lord. He is wise beyond my understanding, and He will bring beauty from ashes.

But I grieve for my friends. My heart breaks for them. And I'm writing right now because I can't help it. I have to release my thoughts somewhere.

Death touches us all, sooner or later. Are you ready? Is death a reality to you, or do you push it to the back of your mind, refusing to touch it, afraid of the unknown? Heaven is real. Death is real. Jesus is real. 

Do you understand that? Do you really understand that you don't cease to exist when you die? Do you really believe in your deepest heart of hearts that you will die some day? Don't deny it. It will happen. Be ready for it!  Prepare for it now, while you can.

Eternity is so much longer than life here.

Do you know how to know what happens after death? Do you know that God is the sovereign Judge, and will be true and just? Do you know that every human stands condemned before Him, and is in need of help? Do you know Who wants to help you, and what He requires of you?

Think about it. Have you considered these questions?

If you know Jesus - truly know Him - have you faced the idea of death? Have you realized that life is about what happens after life? We say we believe in Heaven, but do we LIVE like we believe in Heaven? Do we beg people to consider? Do we cease to care what men think of us? Do we store up treasures where it counts?

Don't lose reality because you are chasing after the shadow.

Girls.....hug your daddy hard tonight, and thank God for every day He gives you with your loved ones.


Hannah said...

We're very sorry to hear the news of this sudden loss, Amber. Our family remembers him from the time we visited, and we prayed for the M family at the supper table tonight.

Amber said...

Thank you, Hannah - and thank you for taking the time to comment. Helps a little, to know others are thinking and praying too. <3 <3

Anonymous said...

Your post nearly made me cry again.
I too, remember the stillness that filled the house that evening. A horrible sadness. But it is wonderful to know that Robert got saved from that! I keep thinking of Mr.Fred and how sad we were when he died. But no mater how horrilbe we sometimes think life is, God always has a purpose and a blessing. PRAISE GOD!!!!!

Lezley :)