So it happened.
A very painful thing happened.
Death hit our lives. It didn't just hit our lives, it hit our hearts. It came fast, and hit us even faster. It was almost like we didn't even see it coming.
Then, all of a sudden, BAM! A quick punch to the gut. One so hard it knocks the wind out of you, cripples you, brings you to your knees, gasping for air, pleading with all your might to find your breath.
It's like a jolt in the night that wakes you violently from your sleep. The pain seems so heavy, but the shock of it all feels surreal. You feel numb. You feel lost. You feel scared. You feel deep, intense loss.
My husbands Dad went home to be with the Lord 9 months ago. We didn't really see it coming. He had been battling cancer, but it seemed that he had made it passed the worst and was on to the better. We were wrong.
I'll always be grateful the Lord providentially worked it out so that we could be there before the unthinkable. We had a few days we got to spend some time with him, and just enjoy visiting, before the decision to admit him to Stanford was made, and that is where we quietly had to say our good-byes, hoping for a miracle, trying to believe one would come.
We stood behind my mother-in-law as she came to terms with the brutal fact the miracle would not come, that she had to let him go. She did so with courage and grace. My mother-in-law held her husband of 50 years in her arms, bid him farewell for now, and let him go on.
I can't imagine the bravery it took.
She told us after, that one of the hardest things she ever had to do was to walk out of that hospital and leave him there. I've heard this before. Other people who've lost their loved ones have mentioned that the most difficult and agonizing part of it all, is the leaving part.
I wonder if it's because it is as though you are finally severing that invisible cord that connects you to that person forever?
If only we who believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, could see past the temporary, and onto the eternal at that moment. If only we could see in that moment the grip of death leave our loved ones, and the arms of our Lord grab hold.
Deep down we know they are alright. We know they are even better than. They are perfect. The Bible says that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". In that very moment, my father-in-law left the trappings of this world, and beheld the love and grace of his Jesus, our Savior. It is through Jesus that my father-in-law entered into his eternal home. It's often said of those that pass away "they are in a better place", "they're in heaven now" or "they are out of pain". In some cases I think those statements are more meant to bring peace and comfort to the hearer, rather than actual truth. In our case, I know without a shadow of a doubt where my father-in-law is, along with some other people, like my Grandmother, that have gone on ahead of me, because I know my Jesus. I know His Word is Truth. I know His Word is sure. I know His Word is everlasting. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The only way to the Father is through Him. He is the resurrection. He is the Life. So, that I can say "Death, where is your sting?" "Grave where is your victory?" My father-in-law, received that resurrection, he received that life and he received his prize. The fun-loving, hard-working, stubborn-as-all-get-out-but-you-just-cant-help-but-love-him, people lover, rummy player (or I should say rummy winner) father-in-law has overcome the grave. Not because of what he did, but because of what Jesus did through his belief in Him.
So bear with me as I get all eulogy-like, but I can't help but sharing. My father-in-law chose to believe and put his trust in Jesus long before I was even born. He lived a full and hearty life. He loved his wife and sacrificed for her and his family. He remembered his friends and enjoyed spending time with them. He enjoyed the fruits of labor as often as he could, and loved God. He poured that God-centered love into his family and friends and it always seemed to spill over with all the people he came in contact with. He used the gifts God gave him to serve Jesus and love others.
So, it's easy to look back and see all that God did. Painful to look ahead and know he wont be at future family gatherings and around for all the ins and outs of life, but we rejoice in knowing that death lost its sting over him the day Jesus claimed my father-in-law His. The day Jesus wrote his name in the Book of Life, is the day my father-in-law was promised to never face eternity without Him.
The greatest reward in this life, is knowing that neither do I have to face eternity without Him. So, the pain that we feel is a but a momentary, light affliction. One that will vanish in the blink of an eye as we obtain our victory over death when that time comes. Although we may miss him, we will see my father-in-law again, and what a celebration it will be when we are once again united and finally home.