I don’t like to look at pain. If I can, I avoid it. Look the other way. But no matter how I avert my eyes, there it is… in the fabric of this beautiful yet imperfect life.
And I realize that I look away because I don’t like crying. I don’t like caring as much as I do and letting what I see impact my heart,. It causes me to feel powerless in the face of pain and suffering, especially when those I love hurt.
It doesn’t feel good to realize that I can’t control, prevent or magically fix pain for me or those around me. The Lord shows me again and again that it’s not my job. He invites me to look to Him with trust. He is present and near, working all things for good. He is God, not me.
In a celebration of life service for a friend who passed away, the pastor reminded us that this time was for us, not for her. We were the ones who needed to grieve while she was in a place where Jesus wipes away every tear. A place of perpetual bliss, freedom and joy in His loving Presence. Even death, what appears to be the ultimate suffering, is eternal life for us who believe. It turned my definitions upside down. My perspective shifted to looking through eternity’s lens rather than from the lens of this passing world.
So, what am I afraid of? What am I working so hard to prevent? Pain? Death? Even death is a win. Jesus looked at death in the face and proved that it can’t have him.
I’m not trying to be insensitive to the loss of loved ones. I feel challenged by my friend who gave herself to loving others and worshiping Jesus while she was on this earth. The life she lived, the legacy she left, the choices she made spurs me on. I too want to live a life of no regrets, make courageous choices, love without reservation. I too want to trust in our God whom we can’t see with our physical eyes but is reality Himself.
If our lives be vapors, I want my life to be a magnificent and daring one. A spectacular, extravagant vapor. A vapor that had some fun darn it. Took some risks to make a difference in the lives of other vapors. Laughed. Believed. Loved.
Maybe this is part of the resurrection power of Christ. Yes, I’ll pray for the dead to be raised. But how about living as though I’m already dead? Maybe I already have a spot carved out for me in a place of absolute bliss. I already know where I’ll end up. My final destination is guaranteed. The blood of Jesus made sure of it.
And what about all the uncomfortable in-between? The tears. Sadness. Trials. Hardship. I cringe.
Earth is not heaven. Here Jesus hasn’t wiped away every tear. I cry because it hurts. I cry because I’m human and weak. I cry because I long for perfection. I cry because I was made for heaven. It’s vulnerable. It feels like death. Things we can’t control. Things we wished could be different.
Life feels like a perpetual surrender of letting go, admitting that we are not in control, but holding fast to the One who is. We are invited to die to self-reliance and to trust again and again, deeper still. We are invited to remember that we actually live from a place of heavenly inheritance and can boldly ask for a foretaste here. My heartbreak is safe in His hands.
I don’t have this down. This wholehearted courageous thing. Then I remember I don’t have to figure this out. I’m not alone. I reach out. And you reach back. You help me grieve when I miscarry. You give me courage, saying it’s not over. You tell me I matter to you. You remind me of who I am, that I have peace and authority in the midst of storms. You tell me I’m your people. I have a place in your heart. So I get up and hope again. I move forward.
Thank you, W&C Redding. You are some of the queenliest vapors I have the privilege of calling my people.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:14