Thursday, September 29, 2011
TEMPORARY OR ETERNAL GOODBYES
Two wonderful godly women left this side of life recently. April and Margaret were Teaching Leaders for Bible Study Fellowship years ago and that is how we met. April taught in Little Rock, Margaret in Dallas.
(FYI: When a person decides to become a teacher of God's Word an INVISIBLE t-shirt is placed upon them. It's white with a huge red bulls eye target printed on the front and back! That's why ministers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, religious leaders of all kinds etc. are called "men of the cloth." My opinion and experience, of course. No scientific data to prove my theory.)
Margaret and April were "women of the cloth." They taught it and lived it daily.
I recall sitting in meetings with them being profoundly impressed by their gentle but very strong natures. Both were loving and kind and yet stood courageously as they spoke the truth of God's Word. Steel magnolias would describe these two.
Both had suffered much through the years, cancer was a constant and lengthy battle, but they lived life large in spite of it. Their families and thousands of others were blessed by their perseverance and bravery.
I heard about their deaths through mutual friends and was not close enough for audible goodbyes. My silent farewells are saddened by thoughts of their chairs being empty at future family holiday tables, their phones silent when their children long to hear their voices, their communities struggling to fill the gaping hole where they used to serve. Yes, goodbyes are very hard.
BUT......the separation is TEMPORARY! My friends are right now, without a doubt, viewing sights unknown to this world, enveloped in unconditional supernatural love and sensing a contentment beyond our wildest imaginations. They are looking in to the all knowing, all loving eyes of Jesus Himself. That is the promise of the scriptures they personified. They truly are alive in a better world.
I will see them again one day! Eventually they will again hug their children and grandchildren and rejoice with their husbands.
Our gentleman friend's death is another story. His family and friends are not sure they can look forward to a future reunion and that uncertainty is cause of much heartache.
His life was lived without a verbal acknowledgement or desire for his eternal destination, or a love for the God that lives there. Even though it is earthly impossible to view the inner spiritual status of a human heart, by all outward signs this goodbye MIGHT be eternal. And that is almost unbearable . Those that loved him and left behind are now grappling with that possibility. The thought of never again seeing him smile, hearing his soft voice or feeling his tender touch is almost too much to bear.
Comfort for them comes only through clinging to the ONE that sees and knows all and still speaks with a still small voice.
There is much discussion in Christian communities these days about life in the hereafter and who goes there. Books are written and conferences are highly attended. Scholars and wanna-be scholars are having a hey-day. It's recreation to rehash this theology in the daylight but it becomes critical for families that are suffering the dark night of grief. It is extremely important for them to know whether the farewells are temporary or eternal.
It's a discussion that must happen BEFORE goodbyes become necessary. Why are we so fearful of initiating that conversation?