Monday, January 2, 2017

Do you know the way home?

This is not your typical welcome the New Year 2017 type of blog, it is where my mind is...

I have done a lot of thinking these past few days about 2016 and the posts many friends and the media have been making in regards to the amount of celebrities that passed in 2016, gasps of disbelief and so many questions.  My first thought is, my friend group probably grew up in the 70's and 80's, many of these icons were adults when we were children, they are in their 60's-90's. Granted some are younger, but many of those at some point possibly had previous health issues, or lived hard in their youth. The "industry" puts a lot of stress on them to be the best (stress causes a lot of health issues), and when you are on a pedestal and fall off I am guessing that hurts. But truth is we won't live forever (kind of cold but true.)

The Bible tells us so;
Job 14:5 
"You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer."

I am not so hard as to say it still isn't sad, but my life is not void of death and loss. I have lost a lot, (more than many my age I hear).  Grief is something I am just starting to grasp as an emotion that is acceptable. I am not surprised by death, and to be completely honest I don't fear my own death.  (This is not what people want to hear someone say, and they usually jump to the completely incorrect conclusion. Full disclosure I have never ever thought of that as an end for me, I just know I am saved).

My first memory of death I was about 6, our "Grandma" Esther was in the hospital and I made her a card to get well soon...that card came home and we never had coffee with Grandma Esther again.  When I was 8 years old 4 members of a family of 5 from my church, and their neighbor boy were killed in a car accident. Four young lives and a father, so quickly gone.  I clearly remember looking at the pictures of the boys in our local arena for years thinking how sad that they stayed young as I grew up.

I have been to more funerals than I can even count.  Not just people that we would say "had a good life", quite the opposite.  I heard so often that "Only the Good Die young", that was not a good thing for a kid that kept saying goodbye to friends.  I went to two schools growing up, for a total of about 150 kids in my grade, 7 have died" too young."  Two of Cancer, three brain aneurysms, and two in car accidents.  I have lost my college roommate on a snowmobile, lost five men I know die in small plane crashes and countless other tragic ends to young lives. Death and funerals sadly are a big part of who I am.

I rejoice when the person actually gets to "live a good life", though I am starting to question what that really means. For years I just "dealt" with the loss and tried harder to make God want me to come home, I didn't have a clue how to process grief, so I just buried it literally deep inside.
I had death down (or so I believed):
1)You go to the visitation (speak if you want, I did this easily)
2) Attend the funeral
3) Go to the grave site
4) Make sure everyone was OK by staying in contact, remembering dates. (I know they don't ever forget so neither should I, they need me "false guilt")
5) Try harder to please the world, thinking that will make God want me.

 Lately I have been thinking about "Going Home".  Not going to Roseau, not walking into my house, not my earthly home at all. I see this as my temporary home and I long to Go Home. I was at a funeral this past fall and a friend said "we should rejoice that they are home." Out of my mouth, faster than I would have liked, I just said, "I am jealous, I want to go Home!".  Truth I had never said out loud.

My faith journey, and cry to Jesus happened in deep grief that was flooding out of my heart after losing Sara and Margie.  It was all flooding through me, that first death at six, and the many deaths since then washed over me. Grief didn't just hit me in waves all of those past years, it hit me with a tsunami that literally knocked me down and started to drown me.  I can't even explain what it was like, but it was awful.  I laid on the closet floor trying to figure out why God didn't want me!  I laid there on the floor, with a roof over my head, and completely safe in my house, but I felt homeless, alone, and afraid.

I cried out to Jesus.  I don't know why I cried out on that Thursday night but I wanted to talk to him, I wanted answers, I wanted him to stop leaving me behind.  I wanted answers that moment! Well the next day he sent me on a journey, not for immediate answers, but for the map. He led me to a brother in Christ to talk to, and he started to lead me to scripture. I needed this to understand I wasn't being left behind. I was being given time to use my journey to lead others to Jesus as their Savior.  My story was not about all of the death and holes left in my heart with each loss, but the light that once I surrendered was able to shine from those cracks. I needed to see that the journey started with a death on the cross that would lead me to a forever home.  Jesus saved me, he had my life mapped out.  I did not have to work harder to make God love me, I just needed to run to him and he would welcome me and show me how to shine his light (not my own by pleasing man).  I don't need to fear death, death gave me life.

Scripture is the place to find hope and it is OK to go through every emotion.  I was even angry at God, but that was also OK, I am human and He knew I would also praise him in the storm.  I didn't need to fear death, I need to trust Him. I can comfort others as He has comforted me, he put others in my life to help me in my time of pain, and he is leading me to tell my story as it is His story.

2 Corinthians 1:4
"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."

I doubt I will ever be an "icon", that is just a bigger stage than I have.  I can however be a disciple, I can be in His light.  My losses don't make the news or have millions crying out why??? My losses make me excited to go home. My losses led me to Jesus, and hopefully my story tells his story to others that need the truth, and lead others home.

When I get home I want to meet sweet Azariah, he lived 31 minutes, he taught me about family.  I want to talk to Arlene, we spent one day together and she taught me to pray. I want to talk to Dennis, he raised me and loved me unconditionally.  I want to be met by Sara and Margie, I want them to be there to hug me when I get home.  I want to meet my grandparents that I never met, I hope to see all of my people. I want all that I have met and will meet on my journey to be there praising beside me. (Full disclosure, there are no "icons" I care to meet but I hope they are there.)
Most of all want to see Jesus face to face and thank him for these people, and hear him say:

Matthew 25:23 
"Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.                                 Let's celebrate together!' 
On this journey S.J. (my brother in Christ) has continued to teach me to go to prayer, cry if needed and trust this path.  I am not being left behind I am still here to say it is O.K. to grieve, but it is also O.K. to live and lead others, tell my story and how He was there all along, all I had to do was cry out.  S.J. said "it's OK to feel, cry, be angry, and hurt", this was weird I thought it was better to be "strong" and hold in those feelings. He said, John 11:35 "Jesus wept" 

So as so many seem to be shocked by the amounts of celebrity deaths in 2016, and "what does this mean!" comments I am not shocked.  I know that God has this, he has the answers.  All we need to do is to chose to follow Him, lead others to Him, and praise the truth that we are only here a short time. 

So for 2017 I hope we can ask others "Where are you at on your walk, do you know the way home?"

Herbrews 13:14
"For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come."

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

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