Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blessed in the Eyes of the Lord

It was not where I had planned for our study in John chapter 9 to go this past Thursday. My intent was to focus on the parallels of the man who “once was blind but now could see”. Somehow we stalled on the first couple of versus, camping on the question the disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” From there it was but a short leap to the topic of sickness and death, not a very uplifting way to begin a new year.

Chalk it up to being past the half-century mark in age, but whatever the reason it is a topic that has been the focal point in a number of conversations I have had of late. To be honest, I have found myself struggling with the sadness I see around me as the reality of the shortness of life here on earth takes it’s toll on friends I count quite dear. In the midst of my struggles, the Lord reminded me of something I wrote a number of years ago, shortly after the death of my beloved mother-in law. God’s truths remain and just as the re-reading of this short exhortation encouraged my own heart, I pray it will do the same for you.

June 1992

Bursting with promise, June announces its arrival, heralding the season of summer which we so longed for during the dreary days of winter. Yet even as I anticipate it’s coming, my heart is drawn back to the days of another June one year past, as I stood at the hospital room bedside of my beloved mother-in-law, knowing each breath drawn brought her one step closer to her Lord and another further away from those of us who did not wish to let her go.

“Blessed in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints”, writes the psalmist, but I could find no blessing in such a painful parting. Even as the last hymn was sung and the final flowers placed on her grave, I struggled with those words, knowing the emptiness I would feel in the days to come. Gone were the words of encouragement, the thoughtful deeds, the midnight prayers, the unconditional love that had sustained me through some difficult years. She had left us and life would never be the same.

We struggle so with change, with transitions, with saying good-bye to that which we hold so dear. We read the scriptures admonishing us to die continually to our old way of living if we would choose to walk anew with Christ; and though in our hearts we know it to be true, our very being resists relinquishing control, fearful of letting go of that which we know for that which we can only being to catch a glimpse. Yet, as we yield our way, as each breath we take draws us closer to surrendering all that we are...every right that we claim… to the One who wishes to bear all our burdens, what was once a fleeting hope becomes a wonderful reality. Each day we walk with Christ as our sole source of strength, we discover a peace and joy unsurpassed in our fondest dreams.

As we lay aside our own willful desires and aspirations, as we die to our own strategies and thoughts, we are ushered into a realm of living guided by His Holy Spirit. As we surrender our all to Him, He comes and dwells in our midst, offering His comfort and hope, His strength and encouragement, His unconditional love. What blessing will be ours when one day we cross death’s eternal threshold, laying aside all that we have clung to so tightly here upon this earth. In just a moment, we will enter in to His glorious presence, there to dwell forever with the One we have loved so long.

And so, with the psalmist we can say, “Blessed in your eyes oh Lord is the death, the homecoming, of those you love so well.”