Missing Today's Treasures
Twenty-four years ago we enjoyed a fun Fourth of July with our kids, their friends, and extended family. For twenty-three years July 4th was always a double celebration as we also enjoyed remembering and thanking God for the July 4, 1970 birth of our oldest child, our daughter Heidi, whose birth coupled with the birth of our nation. In 1970 Chuck was pastoring his first church, Wissahickon United Methodist, in Philadelphia. Our curly-haired little girl was everything we wanted and we joked that the whole country celebrates her entry into our family on July 4. The day was always special.
July 4, 1993, was no different. We laughed a lot in between serious conversations. That year Chuck's brother, Ted, brought up the topic of Jesus' return. Chuck commented that he expected Jesus to come back at any minute. Ted laughed, looked at his mother and said, "See, Mom, you don't need to worry about dying, we're all going to go to heaven together!" I felt such joy in our family and secretly thought, "What a blessing it would be for Jesus to come back so we don't have to experience the grief of losing our parents! Wouldn't it be just like God to bless us with such tenderness!"
The party broke up as the teens met up with friends to go see the fireworks. Chuck and I chose to lay on a blanket in our yard and watch the neighbors' illegal fireworks displays, all the while commenting on how blessed we were as a family. Every July 4, this video of family joy plays back and I long for what was. Because two days later, Jesus did not come back for all of us. He came back for only two - our sixteen-year-old son, Mark and his friend, Kelly.
As we prepare to welcome our growing family to our annual cookout this year, my thoughts return to those magical days, missing Mark, and wishing for his signature smile and laughter to brighten our day. I give myself permission to imagine Mark arriving with his wife and children, the kids delightedly hugging their cousins and running off to play. Tears come and I cannot let these thoughts take up residence in my heart, because they are based on imagination, not reality. Longing for what was or what I wish was reality, can neutralize the treasures of what is and what is to come. In a few hours our noisy grandkids will rush in to hug their cousins and run to the pool. Young adult grands and their friends will gather on the porch. The middle grands will eventually work their way from the pool to playing cards and the littles will find adventure in the yard. The olders - the parents of all these children and young adults will end up in the sun room reminiscing, teasing, laughing. Chuck and I will revel in it all, especially since Chuck is healthy enough to enjoy the chaos. These are the treasures of today, sent by the Lord to remind us that He calls us by name, that He is the Lord our God. He is sovereign and one day He will wipe the tears from our eyes and make all things new. The "not yet" helps open our eyes to the treasures of the here and now.
Colossians 1:17 reminds me that "in him all things hold together." "All things" means that somehow the death of our son and the treasures of today are held together by His sovereign love. I don't understand it, but Psalm 90:12 reminds me that my days are numbered so that I may gain wisdom. Important wisdom that I have gained over the past twenty-four years gives me permission to revel in the treasures of today, trusting that my Father sends to help turn my broken heart toward Him in this moment. He not only sees my tears but captures them in a bottle. Knowing my days are numbered reminds me that each moment on this earth takes me one step closer to the day He has written in His book, that day Jesus will come for me. If I allow my grief emotions and shattered heart to linger, no, to dwell in the past I'll miss the treasures of this day. Those treasures are not designed to replace our son. No, He is sending treasures today that help remind me of His sovereignty, His love, and that He tenderly knows and calls me by name. There is power in that truth.
Is your heart shattered? Is today a terrible, no good awful day? I remember that abyss of grief. I encourage you to look for the treasures of today. He promises those treasures in the darkness, riches stored in secret places to help turn the hearts of His children toward Him. If you belong to Him, there are treasures sent by Him, just for you today, tiny steps toward resting in the truth that our sovereign and perfectly loving God "holds all things together."
If you're feeling the sting of hurtful days and unending sorrow, perhaps the post "Another Year" from last year will encourage you as you long for what was or possibly what could be.
In His grip,