And, rather than or
So I was thinking abut death and catching myself thinking in terms of "or" rather than "and" which I find myself doing far too often than I care to imagine. For the believer the Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Now whether this is something instantaneous (which I believe it is) or a promise that is yet to be fulfilled upon our death the fact is clear: our death is a vehicle that carries us into a fuller presence and contemplation of God. For that, death is something that will end in great joy for the believer who dies. We need to rejoice with them and thank God that death is now his servant and that he has subjected it to serve even the ones that he has saved. The one who has died believing that Jesus has forgiven his or her sins is in a splendid state indeed.
Yet, the hole that this person can make in my heart cannot be ignored. I have long given up the disdain of someone who longs for heaven more when a loved one dies. That is a proper response to death and I firmly believe that God uses those deaths so set our minds more fully on our true home, destination, and reward. To add to that, I cannot say that mourning and missing someone who dies is not proper either. Of course we can meditate on what they have gained. And we should. But when my heart is turned to what I have lost, why would I refuse those thoughts? Why can't it be an "and" rather than an "or"? It can be and, I dare say, it should be.
I am a son of a man, son of earth, and a son of God. All of it, mixed together in a big bowl. Now, when I taste a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I don't taste the bread, then the peanut butter, and then the jelly. It is all mixed in and all at once in my mouth and on my tongue, Such is true with me. I can laugh at the look of surprise that I can envision on the face of my loved one when they see what God has prepared for them and that same look can bring a tear to my eyes as I remember a place that we will never share again. Or never share for the first time. To refuse one for the other is to deny my reality, place, and position as all three of these things all rolled into one. It is all right that they made it to heaven before me and that their new reality has both enriched and diminished my own.
My position before God will change. One day I will no longer be a son of the earth subject to its seasons, tides, and time. But, until then, I will live fully in its reality. That pinpoint time in which I do, that sliver path where I both walk and stand brings me a restless comfort. For some reason, God would have it no other way. His "and" is my lot. And who am I to force myself into another's bed?
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