Posted by: suek2001 | October 27, 2015

“Can’t you see that it’s time to come home?”

It’s that time of year again….October is just about done…the weather is colder and the leaves are flying off some trees while still clinging to others…and the weather geeks are using that winter term we all dread..”snow”…

It’s also time for me to step back and reflect on the loss of someone I once loved…Every year, I spend the weekend watching reflective movies that cause me to think about my life and what it all means…

This weekend, I watched the Back To The Future trilogy..and didn’t ponder one bit…and this year is a milestone….Twenty years ago, my best friend in college died suddenly…(and I chose to honor him by watching Emmitt Brown and Marty McFly travel in time….not sure what that says about my heart or the passage of time…)

I’ve written about that time period in my life and his life a few times…

Most notably here:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/i-asked-god-for-all-things-that-i-might-enjoy-all-things/

..and here:

https://suek2001.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/we-lived-every-day-like-the-first-or-the-last-one/

So, I’m not sure what grand pronouncements I can make on the 20th anniversary of his homecoming….

I can say I miss my friend Dennis Mertz..but my thoughts turn to grief as a whole…

Grief is a natural reaction to death…and for all our practice at it over the years, as a society, we still don’t have a handle on how it should be done…as there’s no one right way to grieve…For me, it was withdrawing from society as a whole for a time..

For others, it’s doing volunteer work for some cause related to their sorrow…For others, it’s extended talks with a therapist or a minister…

All have their place….but the one segment of the population that has a difficult time with grief is the Christian……..

The culture of Pentecostalism is built on feelings…We get chided for that a lot but there’s truth to it….When someone we know passes away, we are told they go to Heaven and are in the arms of the Savior…and so we are told to let them go and move on….

At least that’s how it used to be…It also seemed that Christians usually lived long lives and went to their reward after a life of Service to the King.

Our hymnals celebrate Heaven..and they celebrate being called home..and we are told that funerals are not to be sad but to be joyful…and I’ve been to a few that had a “farewell party” vibe to them…

So, the perception is that mourning is somehow a limited emotion…The shock and sadness can exist but only for a short time…after that, Praise God, they are with the Lord….

I think that’s a false ideal…..and it’s rooted in a phrase I have grown to detest over the years….

I cannot count how many times I heard “Well, Dennis is in a better place, you know..Praise God”…

I understand that it’s reflex within the Christian faith to say that…just like “I’ll pray for ya” is reflex to someone telling of a stressful situation…We may mean it but it sounds trite after awhile…

Grief has it’s place in a walk with Christ…and if anyone grieved, it was Jesus…The shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus Wept”…and the context was the loss of his dear friend Lazurus…

You can’t tell anyone how long they can or should grieve….and with the fact that Christians are dying from cancer or other health issues..or even random acts of violence or car accidents, we cannot say “Well, this is God’s will..It was their time to go”…

When people say things like that, it has an air of “Your emotions are a problem and getting in the way of your faith”….

Anyone who has served God long enough knows the walk is not an easy one…and grief and anger is as much a part of faith as joy and praise…There is no reason to wonder if you are faithful if you are mourning someone..

God places people in our lives for a reason and sometimes for a season…Mourning  loss is perfectly natural…and if I may be as bold to say this…it is God-given…God did not make us emotionless robots with only two gears..joy and praise….Those are the emotions He wants us to seek but He is with us in every wave of emotion…

Mourning is Biblical…as it says in that oft-quoted Scripture:

Ecclesiastes 3:4:

(To Everything there is a season)

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 

It took me me years to want to feel like dancing….but eventually I did…and what surprised me the most was seeing God in my mourning…and seeing Him in my joy…

The secret seems to be honesty…God wants us to be honest with Him..and if we hide our pain and paint a veneer of joy so others will see as the joyful Christians we ought to be..then we really have a false walk with God..and it won’t go any deeper into the heart….

It’s been 20 years…..and I look back on that darkness with awe..through the tears..the prayers..the silence…God was there…and the awesome thing is He allowed me to be me…truthfully….

Healing came from that…and joy….and peace…

Today, I can rejoice that Dennis is in Heaven…I tell God to hug him like I want to….and I will someday….but 20 years ago, God sent me on a different course than what I had planned…and my faith seems more assured every day…

There’s a line from a John Denver song that Dennis loved….the song is “Alaska and Me”…the line is this:

“We lived every day, like the first and the last one,

with nothing to lose and Heaven to gain”…

Our faith should be a lot like that…

 

 

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