The older that I get, the more clearly I understand how very miniscule I am in the whole grand scheme of things. When we are young, we tend to view our lives from a very narrow lens in which we are the center of the action. Think of most teenagers that you know..they often times are the center of their universe as much of their thought life, their energy , their ambitions and so forth is completely centered on them. This is not an indictment on today’s youth because I remember being the very same way when I was that age. As the years pass however, and we begin to experience life, it’s triumphs and it’s valleys, the routines of it, but also the shocks that it gives us,  we begin to learn some lessons. I suppose my thoughts have recently been focused on the lives that we lead, how we spend our lives, and what is important to us as we live our life on earth because of recent deaths of some folks that I know. A dear lady in my church just recently lost her husband of forty-seven years ... a very profound loss. As I sat at this man’s memorial service a few weeks ago, I realized that I was five years old when this couple got married. When I put it in that perspective, I was overwhelmed by the thought of the adjustment that this dear wife and friend of mine is having to make. I also just recently in the last two days learned of the sudden and unexpected death of a twenty-seven year old young man who was the son of a new friend of mine. He simply died unexpectedly in his bed after he had announced to his family that he was not feeling well and therefore was going to lay down for a while.  What is especially tragic and hurtful about this young man’s passing is that he was the second son of my friend to have died unexpectedly. My friend’s first son died in a vehicle accident fifteen years ago …and ironically it was the same week in May that they both passed.  My mind has been boggled trying to put myself in the place of my friend who is the father of these two young men who have gone on to eternity. Trying to wrap my mind around the inner emotion and grief that this father feels is honestly something that I cannot fully or even partially comprehend since I am not the parent who is walking that path in those shoes. I can feel tremendous sorrow, deep empathy and sympathy and I have promised to pray for him and for the rest of his family and I am doing so…but can I truly understand his inner pain? No, I don’t think that I can.  The reason that I say this with certainty is that I remember well the date of October 25, 1975. I was just nineteen years old, newly married and my dad had made the two hour drive to our college town to knock on the flimsy door of my husband’s and my tiny college apartment. When I opened the door , I was staring at the face of my big rugged dad and I saw one solitary tear streaming down from his eye on to his right cheek. He simply said to me “ Mom’s gone .”  Not comprehending the enormity of what he was telling me , I replied back with a question..I said “ Gone where ?”  to which he informed me that my mother had died suddenly in her sleep the night before. She apparently had a brain aneurism that had never been detected and it had burst in her brain, killing her within a matter of minutes.  When he said the words “ She died..” my life instantaneously from that moment, changed. I remember running out of the apartment down to the college stadium to be with Tom, my husband who was working on a security detail for the game and running up to him and yelling and crying about what my father had just told me. The days and weeks that followed were honestly a blur. I do not remember much, but something that I do remember is waking up the next morning and the feeling that I felt was the worst sensation that I ever remember having. We had immediately traveled back to my mom and dad’s home the day before with my dad and so the next morning I was waking up in the home that I grew up in, yet she was gone. She was no longer there . I remember hearing the television news on as I got out of bed and walked down stairs to the kitchen and I remember my parents’ dog being happy to see me and coming running up to me wagging her tail oblivious to the crushed human hearts around her.  It just seemed almost obscene to me that life was continuing on as if everything was the same, yet my life, my heart had been utterly smashed. I did not even know how I was going to be able to carry on, to function, to return to school without crying all the time and yet my dad was pouring his cereal in the kitchen, I saw my dad’s neighbor outside picking up the newspaper off of his driveway, I heard the usual drone of the television …and on and on. Life was going on as usual and I was collapsing inside…two opposites that just did not seem to go together. Anyone who has lost someone that they loved knows exactly what I am talking about here..especially if the loss was sudden and unexpected.  My friend is most likely feeling this way right now trying to wrap his mind and heart around the why of it all….why has he lost his two boys ? Why did they leave this earth at 22 and 27 years of age when he is still here in his sixties? My lady friend at church is probably wondering how she is going to make it through some days because her partner, her best friend, the person she has been closest to for almost five decades is no longer sitting at that table and walking through that front door each day. All people will experience this type of emotional trauma at some point in their lives, some earlier than others. All of my adult life I have prayed that my children would not have to cope with a loss of the magnitude that I had to at age nineteen , only because I have not wanted them to have to cope with that degree of emotional hurt until they are much older. So far that prayer has been answered and this is really the point that I have wanted to get to and the purpose of this post.  When I said that I prayed , that was not just a cliché or a familiar saying . I have truly prayed that to a God who is real and who I know personally. God is not just a vague ,abstract being out in the atmosphere somewhere but my father in heaven who I talk to every day. It was not always this way…in fact, when I was nineteen and lost my mom , I did not have this knowledge of and relationship with God that I have today. However when I did lose her so suddenly, I needed and wanted to know if there really was a life after death or if when we died, we simply went into the ground , back to dust and that was it . I have family and friends who believe that to be the truth, that once we exit this world, that is the end of our story, yet I looked around at the orderliness and the intricacies of our world, of nature, of the human body and how it is designed and common sense told me that there was more, that there must be a creator.  For three years following my mom’s untimely death, I went on a personal quest. I had been raised in church, but still had no answers. Through a series of events, some friends referred me to a little country church where I heard a young preacher talk about why Christ came to earth and died on that tree. For the first time in my life, I began to really wonder and ponder that for myself. I had always thought about Jesus just at Easter and Christmas and frankly, I realized that I just sort of viewed it as a fairy tale almost.  It was a nice story that was told annually but it did not impact or change my life in any personal way. This young preacher challenged me to read the gospel of John and when I did , I was stunned by what was in the Bible that I was completely ignorant of. What I read forced me to make a decision. I knelt down one day in that dinky little college apartment only about ten feet away from the spot in which my dad had told me just three years earlier that  my mom was gone out of my life. I knelt and told God that I didn’t understand everything about Him and that I didn’t know much about the Bible but that I did know that He was real and that He wouldn’t send His son Jesus to this crazy sin wracked world unless there was a very good reason…which there was. It was to save us for eternity and to free us from the sting of death. I was slowly beginning to understand something. I was beginning to believe what the Bible tells us which is the true fact that although death here on earth is sad for us and for those that we love, for those who have figured out the truth about God, Jesus, eternity, why we are all here…death holds no sting. For us who have put our faith and trust in Christ and why He came , death is not a permanent thing, but just the door to eternity. That dear husband of my lady friend at church knew this truth and so when he took his last breath, he simply glided through that door. My friend’s twenty seven year old son also walked through that door just two days ago. I believe in my heart that my own mom walked through that door thirty-three years ago and that I will see her again some day. The fact that they are now in heaven does not erase or completely diminish the agonizing hurt and pain for those folks left behind that loved them, but it does give them the assurance that they will be with their loved ones again....and oh, by the way, that is not a crutch for the weak minded to lean on, but a truth for the wise to rest in. That is an important distinction that is sadly confused by many in today's world.

      Folks, our physical life span on earth is limited, but we will indeed live somewhere else forever. The reality is that our time here on this earth is but a speck of time compared to eternity. Perhaps you have read this and have already dismissed much of this post as foolishness and that is your right. Perhaps you are not certain of what you believe but hopefully it has caused you to think ..that would be a good thing. Maybe you will think and ponder enough to make a decision for the Lord…that would be a great thing.  That dear husband from our church and that twenty-seven year old son both made that decision and are in God’s presence today because of it. Please give it some serious thought..most folks never do. This is one time where you must be in the minority , not the majority…your forever depends on it.