Monday, September 29, 2014

The Last Goodbye

Seeing photos from a family who has been spending time at the WWII memorial honoring the "twilight men," in the words of Mrs. Beall Phillips, and hearing news of the death of a dear friend's grandmother, and watching another precious family go through the loss of their joy-beam of a mother to cancer- it's overwhelming. Life is so short. We are so small. It all goes so fast, and we are swept along, pitiful and helpless. We are a breath, a blade of grass, a raindrop whirling, racing, tumbling to earth in the midst of a cosmic hurricane. Yet God has given us in His great mercy the opportunity to be a part of His eternal Kingdom; to touch eternity; to tell stories; to have children; to fill the unforgiving minute with a life orchestrated by a forgiving God; to *run.* And through the death of Jesus Christ and His triumphant resurrection all this sorrow and this pain and this death that is the necessary counterpart of life in this fallen world- all these goodbyes have lost their finality, and have been washed from hopeless darkness into a bittersweet and overwhelming light. Where is your sting, O Death? Where is your victory, O Grave? You were a terrifying emptiness looming over the end of life which races towards us, melting centuries into years into days into epitaphs- now you are a liberator.
O God, give us eyes to see the beauty in the sadness, to be gripped by the power of Your story, bubbling over with childish exuberance, anxious to see what the next page holds; give us hearts so overwhelmed by Your overwhelming Glory that we cannot but shout Your praises from the valleys and the mountaintops alike.
"And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
Oh praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God!
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod!
Oh praise Him, oh praise Him,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"
So as I pray for my friends who are saying their last goodbyes, I think about that phrase. "Last goodbye." It's true. Death is the last goodbye. Because after that goodbye, there's one more hello coming, and there are no more goodbyes after that.

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