“…Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54
The death knell has tolled again. This time it is for a way too young senior high school young man in our community. He was in my daughter’s Spanish class one day…and dead the next. The news has spread in a wave of shock throughout our community. “…too full of life, far too young to die.” “How can this happen?” “How will his family and friends make it through?”
A few months ago, a beloved classmate from Boston College met his earthly end in a car accident while out with the family looking for a Christmas tree. Another untimely death, those who knew him were reeling from the news. “No…it couldn’t be. I was just talking to him.” “Dick? I can just picture his smiling face.” We were reminded, as one friend put it, to “hug our spouses and children a little tighter.” You just never know when tragedy will strike.
Many of my friends and I have also entered a time in life when the generation before us is passing away. We have lost one or both of our parents. Not untimely, but difficult, sad, painful just the same. In fact, with my own dad’s passing a year and a half ago, there was still an element of shock. I’d have a question, a concern, a challenge, and the first person I thought of reaching out to was Dad. I couldn’t get his twinkling eyes, his welcoming smile, his ready wit out of my mind. He’s one of the people who knows me best of all. And then the question, “Where is he? “What’s it like, eternity?”
Last week it was my beloved Godmother Liz’s husband of over 50 years. Pat’s death was not unexpected in some ways. He had fought the good fight and won, living a full life for 17 years after his kidney transplant. Yet the grief and loss still leaves us asking, “How can we live without him?” “Can you imagine life without your soul mate of over 50 years?”
I can’t help but wonder, perhaps a bit selfishly, what does heaven hold for me, for all of us? I spoke to my Godmother, a woman who has inspired my faith from the moment she held me at my baptism, and she said, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Minutes later, I spoke with my Godmother’s sister Helene, she too a woman of deep and abiding faith. She had called to make sure I knew of Pat’s passing. We caught up for a few minutes, speaking of Pat’s new home in heaven, both of us wondering…And Helene said, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
I thought about the most glorious blue-sky day, warm sun streaming on my face…I thought about the first time I saw the Grand Canyon and gasped at the majesty…I thought about the happiest smile-filled, laugh-laced moments of my life, the ordinary and the extraordinary. These are things I have seen and heard and experienced. Heaven is beyond my imagination and because of this, for this moment “it is well with my soul.” (Hymn by Horatio Spafford)
How about you? What’s your story? Do you have a scripture that helps you process death or eternity? Have you had an experience regarding life and death, heaven and earth that has given you blessed assurance? Peace? I’d love to hear from you.