Sunday was a hard day for me. I don’t know what goes on subconsciously, but even simple tasks like going to the grocery store and putting lotion on your hands can evoke such emotions that lead to tears.
On Sunday I did my grocery shopping for the week like I usually do. And what did I see there? Lays potato chips, bottles of peanuts, rotisserie chicken, cranberry limeade juice – all things Papa stored in his kitchen, some for him and some for my kids. A lump began to form in my throat as I pulled into the checkout line. So many times I stood in this line, checking out these items for him.
After I got home from the grocery store, Adam and I snuggled down to watch a movie. But before we hit play Adam grabbed some lotion to put on his hands. He took his wedding ring off so the lotion wouldn’t glob up inside it, and when he did, my mind instantly went to Papa.
When mom and I sat at his bedside the day before he died, she slipped his ring off his finger and as she did a pang hit my gut. That ring never came off. It couldn’t. It had a worn a permanent divot underneath his knuckle and couldn’t escape. That moment was when I knew it was for real. He was leaving me soon. Going somewhere I couldn’t go…just yet.
Oh how I desired to grab onto his shirt and go with him. I thought of Jesus’ words, “Where I am going you cannot come. I go there to prepare a place for you. If it were not so, I would have told you.”
Papa’s place was prepared and ready for his arrival.
He was so ready to go home and had been for the past year. He would ask me, “Is there a place where I can go where they’ll let me just go?” His condition was the epitome of what he didn’t want. But we all told him there was a reason God hadn’t called him home yet.
He wasn’t still living because he wanted to, but for someone else who would be touched by his life.
His slow fading away demonstrated to me the power and authority of God. He was not a burden on us. It was a stage of caring for someone we deeply loved. Someone who cared for us. His last breath was not for us to determine. Jesus took him home at the perfect moment when all was completed. Papa ran the race well and he finally finished, all of us helping him cross the finish line.
Sometimes I looked around the room at the facility Papa was in and thought, “How sad. These people…ugh. They don’t deserve to live like this.” But I now have a different perspective.
This wasn’t God’s original design for us. Jesus Himself wept at Lazarus’ grave. Death is the ultimate result of sin. God said in Genesis 2:16, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
And it was Satan who argued, “You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Death wasn’t God’s desire for us. But just as Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and partake of the forbidden fruit, so we can choose life. I see the amazing and beautiful mercy and grace of God in that He made a way for me to never die. He paid the price for me to come back to Him and stand before the throne “clothed in His righteousness alone!” That is what I DO NOT deserve – to stand faultless before Him!
I think the pain of grief is the result of our brain processing something we were never meant to process. It’s like trying to digest a brick. It just doesn’t work!
My brain keeps mulling it all over, like a dog looking for a bone he just had yet cannot find. But he was just here, my brain says, and now he’s gone. I cannot understand it.
Death. It’s something I used to fear, and wrote about my journey of being set free from it in my book. I don’t fear it anymore, but I haven’t thought much about it till now either. In 1 Corinthians 15:26 it says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” And in Hebrews 2:14-15 it says, “…so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Satan loves death, but Jesus’ victory over it destroyed the hold he tried to gain. Jesus has now made us alive with Christ. Those in Him never die!
Below are some scriptures that have really been powerful for me to read regarding death, Jesus’ victory over it and the hope of Jesus’ second coming.
“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50
“The body that is sown is perishable., it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raise in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raise in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body… I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
So the fact is, we must be changed! And when we are “the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through of Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14,16-18, 5:9-11
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him…
For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we, who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words. .. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.