Sunday, June 26, 2016
The thing about grief is how it surprises you. I am sitting here in the auditorium laughing and chatting with the other ballet moms as we wait for the dress rehearsal to start. It's been a breathless morning to get here on time with three well fed ballerinas with perfect buns and makeup. Suddenly the lights dim, the curtain opens, and a slew of tiny people in sweet outfits start to dance. They aren't even my kids but out of nowhere the hot tears flood my eyes. I am not even sure why at first. Then I realize it's because my first ballerina didn't get to have a dress rehearsal. Or a recital. She absolutely loved to dance and twirl about the house. When she finally started ballet, I think I was as excited as she was. The company refunded our money of course, and then I learned later that they did a special song for her at the recital where she would have performed.
The headlines lately have been full of devastation. News of people in places like Orlando that are now standing on the edges of a sea of grief. People looking out into the waves that threaten to swallow them. And even as my own grief occasionally catches me by surprise, there is a voice in my heart that I hear louder than my own tears. There is an Answer to the pain in this world. There is One who cares more deeply than any of us. There is One who weeps over suffering and who comes humbly and gently whispering words of comfort and love. Mercy. He offers us mercy.
There is grief. There is agony. But Jesus! Apart from Him we have no hope. But Jesus! He came to bring Hope. To reconcile us to God. In our sin we are separated from God and face an eternity of being apart from all that is good because God is goodness and holiness rolled into one. But Jesus! He came to bring resurrection life to our dead places. When our life looks like dirt, we need the breath of God.
In the Bible, Macaiah (the prophet that we named our Makiah for), was one of the few people who had an open vision of the throne room of God (1 Kings 22:19). We prayed for our daughter that she would see Jesus. I can recall her saying often that she wished she could see Jesus with her real eyes. I remember the night she asked Jesus into her heart, the conversation began like this. I told her she could see Jesus with the eyes of her heart and asked if she wanted to pray and ask him to forgive her sins. We had been talking with her about the good news of Jesus death and resurrection for many months and she had a good grasp on it and had asked many questions. Makiah prayed that night in her bed and told me that she felt Jesus giving her a hug in her heart.
Another prophet, Isaiah, also had an open vision of the throne room of God.
He describes the scene in Isaiah chapter 6 saying the train of the Lord’s robe filled the temple as He sat on His throne. Angels with six wings hovered above the Lord crying out about His holiness and glory with such powerful voices that the heavenly doorposts shook and the temple was filled with smoke. Brilliant lights, thundering voices, and smoke filled Isaiah’s nostrils as the ground shook beneath him. Immediately Isaiah felt he would die in the presence of such perfection and power as he was instantly aware of his own uncleanness before a Holy God. An angel brought him a burning coal from the altar and placed it on his lips to atone for his guilt. Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord calling out, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?”
Even now in our hurting world, the voice of the Lord is calling out, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Who will take My love to the bleeding and the broken, to those standing on the shores of grief? Who will tell them Jesus has made atonement for our guilt and offered himself to become the door by which people can step into peace and hope in this world and into heaven in the next. There is only one door. But on the other side is a place where there is no more tears or pain or sin or sickness. Ever. When people ask what is God doing about the pain, the answer is what God has already done about it. He has built a bridge between himself and us. He has crossed the chasm created by the wrong choices of man. He is reaching out with the sweetest embrace if we will just take His hand and walk across into the arms of love.
Will we tell them? Will we love them across? Will we answer like Isaiah did “Here am I. Send me!” Will we pray for them that they will have eyes to see and ears to hear the truth? To see the love of Jesus that can change everything for them? Even in the midst of suffering.
Jesus did for me. There are moments when grief catches me, but I don’t live there anymore. I don’t live under that heavy darkness now. My Makiah is seeing Jesus with her real eyes, and God has breathed the breath of His Holy Spirit and life into the heaping pile of mess that was my life after the wreck. He is no respecter of persons. He will do it for you. He will do it for them.