Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 years it's been...

since my dad breathed his last of this life. I remember the last whisper in his ear, "Go and rest. I'll love you forever." The next morning he finally let go of this life, just as we had to finally let go of him. It was then that the hard part began.

I miss Dad daily- not a day that goes by that he's not on my mind, in my heart. I wonder if he knows about our lives. Has he seen Elijah grow into a small version of himself? Will he watch as Miles plays his first season of real t-ball soon? Is he head over heels for Ella, and does she remind him of me when I was little? Is he as smitten over Milla Jean as the rest of us are - his last, spoiled, adored grandchild? Has he watched as my mom has learned to go forward without him at her side, because that's all she can do? Does he know that my brother has moved his family back here, and that he has it hard at times feeling like he has to fill Dad's shoes? Take care of us in Dad's stead? Has he seen me struggle and seek and pray and wait, find more of my Father... and ebb and flow, ebb and flow in that relationship? Would he be proud of who I am, who I've become since he died, because he died? Does he know of our leap of faith, Jonathan's work, the very work Dad was so hoping would happen over five years ago?

I like to think that somehow, at least from time to time, he is able to see what happens to us, the left behind, the still journeying. I like to think that not only Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses and the rest listed in Hebrews 11, but also others who have gone on, are in the cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews 12:1.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Once again, I am in awe of the love my Father has for me, because as I started to think about this post, I just so happened upon a link to a Tim Keller sermon entitled "Suffering: If God is Good, Why is there so much Evil in the World?" So I listened and took notes and was ministered to and loved on by my Father. Still, there is no succinct  answer all wrapped up neatly, but truly like the answer to all questions it is this: those who believe have hope. Below are notes I furiously typed as I listened, and he says it so beautifully:

"In Jesus Christ God became vulnerable and subject to suffering and pain and even death... on the cross, to our astonishment we see... if you've lost a loved one, we look up on the cross and see the Father losing His only Son... and Jesus screaming out in pain "why? why?"

At the cross we see how far God went to be with us in our sufferings. The cross can tell you that it can't be that he doesn't love us or that he doesn't care... he plunged himself to... infinite degrees beyond anything we will ever suffer so that one day He can end evil without ending us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.   1 Peter 1:3-12

A living hope (verse 3) is a power, a dynamism, something that really gets you through that furnace (speaking of our individual trials as our own personal fiery furnace) inheritance kept in heaven... the foretaste of it is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That's the promise. The resurrection isn't compensation for the life lost, it is restoration of that life... this world, your body, your loved ones, it comes back... pure, unfading, imperishable, unspoiled...

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]
 55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.   1 Corinthians 15:50-58
And we shall be changed... death has been swallowed up in victory.

The experience of losing them made the experience of having them infinitely greater. The experience of losing them had been swallowed up by the experience of having them, so that it was infinitely more precious. If Jesus Christ's resurrection happened, and it did...then it means everything sad, everything horrible is going to be brought up into our future glory and resurrection and make it infinitely better than it had been if we've never had any of those experiences and that's the final and ultimate defeat of suffering and death. Everything sad will come untrue and yet the resurrection will be infinitely greater for it having once been true, all that suffering and all that evil.

Keller quoted Dostoyevsky:
"I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov) BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Hebrews 12:  for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross... and Isaiah 53 shows that the results of His suffering He will see and be satisfied - you are His living hope, you - beautified, unspoiled, unfading, in His arms... The thought that you are His living hope will make Him your living hope.

Look into the gospel the way the angels do {1 Peter 1:8}, see in new ways what He has done for you, and you will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and if you do your griefs will be taken up into His story and turned to gold."

I know these notes may seem sort of pieced together, but I wanted the words to be Keller's and not mine. To hear the entire message click on this link:

Suffering: If God is Good, Why is there so much Evil in the World. by Tim Keller

If you are still reading this, bless you. It's been long I know. These words have spoken such hope into my heart, and articulated ideas I had perhaps begun to have, but not nearly so beautifully and well thought out. My heart is so heavy as I write this. I am missing my dad. What I'd give to have those arms around me at this moment. But I have hope that I will see him again, when it is my turn to cease the striving. I have hope in the cross of Christ that makes death not the end but theTrue beginning. I have hope that "everything sad will come untrue and yet the resurrection will be infinitely greater for it having once been true."

I have hope, and so I have enough. And more than.

{Still loving you, Dad... your doll-lady}


tamara said...

Just know you are in my prayers. Being in this phase of my mother's illness, I can't (and don't want to) imagine the phase you are in. I totally admire your transparency about your grief and what you've learned about God through the process. Lots of prayers for you today ~ and all your family.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Absolutely beautiful.

As a Dad - I've come to realize my number one job is to do my best to lead Christine's and my boys to Christ. Our Dad had the same goal with you and me. And if Dad can peak in us from time to time - I know you bring a smile to his face each time. And he'll give you that next hug as soon as you walk thru the gates. And as I told him before he died (in this life) - we'll be walking in right behind him.

Love, Brown

Erika said...

Thinking of you today and I absolutely believe those who have done on before us are watching over us and cheering.

Gina said...

How I love those words, "everything sad will come untrue." I am overwhelmed at that thought. Thank you for writing this. It's lovely. And I am certain that your dad IS proud of you. I love you.