It’s been four months. Four months since I got the call to say goodbye to my dad. 4 months since I waited to hear that final breath from my grandpa. 4 months since both of their battles with cancer came to a close. Death and grief have brought a lot of things in and out of me. Weakness, anxiety, fear, sorrow, lies, truth, strength, faith and h o p e. The weirdest thing that it’s brought is longing.
When I was growing up there was a lot of talk about Jesus coming back. People constantly talked about the end days, we always had to watch the newest Left Behind like movie. For me this produced fear. I felt like I had to take notes on how to survive if I got left behind. There were times when I would wake up from a nap and not know where my brother or mom were. I would immediately panic thinking I was left. There were times when I would lose my mom in a store and think Jesus took her from me. I hated to be alone because to me Heaven seemed scary and the end times were terrifying. I remember getting older and looking forward to a trip or something and praying, ” Jesus I know it would be good for you to come back but please wait until after I go to Disneyland.” I know. I was that kid. While growing up the end seemed terrifying and unwelcomed, it’s the one thing I long for now.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Romans 8:22-23 ESV
Groaning. This last year I’ve felt my spirit groan on several occasions. There have been battles upon battles. Sorrow upon sorrow. Fight after fight. I think that’s why grieving feels so long for me. Grieving is something that’s been happening for almost a year now. Grieving the loss of character in someone close to me, grieving the moving of a community I loved, grieving the loss of face to face relationships with people that mean the world to me, then grieving the loss of two men in my family. I can’t count how many times I’ve whispered, thought, screamed, cried, begged God to just take me away from this earth.
Though I don’t want to end my life, I had come to a point where I didn’t care if I ever got married, had kids, go to Disneyland, got the dog I want, travel to beautiful places, etc. I just wanted to go to Heaven.
This mindset doesn’t help the good or the bad days. It creates a numb careless heart. In the way that your love is turned off and you’re set in coast mode. Dreamless. Believing that God won’t keep His promises. Believing nothing matters here.
There is a point where Jesus should be your sole desire but we can’t continue to give up the abundant life He came and died for us to live. (John 10:10). God sent His son because He loved the world. (John 3:16). He gave us life for a reason. Jesus didn’t just die so we get to go to Heaven. He died so we could live even on Earth.
Today as I was driving I was listening to the Lusko family talk about their daughter Lenya that suddenly passed away days before Christmas. I’ve been reading his book Through the eyes of a Lion and it’s incredible. Grief is grief but I can’t imagine losing someone suddenly, especially when that person is a child. As I was driving and listening to this message they were talking about the hope that Heaven produces. Knowing that they would see their daughter again kept them going. That’s when something clicked.
God gave me life. He breathed into me and knows how many breaths are in me.
The longing to go to Heaven can be so miserable because no matter how much money, resources, how fit you are, how much education you have nothing lets you go until it is time for you to. But it’s only miserable if that is your focus. Yes even creation is groaning for that day but we’ve been given more than just a groan, we’ve been given hope.
“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Romans 8:24-25 ESV
Though I am longing to go to a place where I can’t go yet, I know that I’m in a place now where I will never come back to. And that dear Sojourners is what makes my time on earth mean something.
I don’t know what you’re currently going through. And to be honest I can’t promise that it will get better but I do know as you continuously fix your eyes on Christ you get more hopeful. True the deaths of my dad and grandpa don’t knock me down like they did 4 months ago, sure I’m not depressed because my friends moved, and yes that person that I thought was too far gone has slowly come back to Christ and those things make life better but they don’t make what I really want come. That longing will always be there but when I fix my eyes on the sweet face of Jesus hope rises. Truth comes. And that makes life better even when it doesn’t feel better. Since I can’t control when I leave this earth I’m choosing to do something about what my time on earth looks like, because one day when I’ve made it back home I won’t ever be able to come back to earth. Because of that I choose to get up again. Everytime I fall into hopelessness I choose to try to hope again, to love again, fight again. Rise again.
Let hope rise in you. Pick up your head and know the battle isn’t nor has it ever been yours, it’s His. You’re on the winning side. So will you choose to rise again? You only get one time on this earth.