Now that this is out there and I see a number of you sharing this wrestling opportunity with others, most of my posts will probably become a series of posts. Such is the one below, which is at this point one of two posts (and could become more). I will most likely be posting once a week and giving you as the readers enough time to think through what you are hearing in order to give wisdom back on these topics as we wrestle together!! Thanks for reading!! (and if you haven’t done so already go to the about page to find out more about what this wrestling together thing is about.) This particular post (as many probably will be) comes out of what has been going on in my life as of late and I am sure most of you have had to work through at different times in your life. It seems somewhat appropriate especially as we come under the shadow of the cross more closely as Easter looms and our opportunity to celebrate His resurrection!!
Life & Death & daily living as His church…
We were reminded recently in the passing of America’s pastor Rev. Billy Graham of what this graduation to our real Home is. Billy said in this famous quote:
“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
During this time of saying good-bye to America’s pastor, who lived to the ripe old age of 99!!, we have been close to two families who are also in the process of saying good-bye to loved ones… who we certainly suspect have changed their address to that same one as Billy. However, one of those was a 36 year old niece of ours who leaves behind a husband and two beautiful children and many other close loved ones. The other is the passing of little Sophia who battled a rare disease Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and lived until a little over one year old. She leaves behind two wonderful warrior parents and her 4 sisters. Admittedly, with each death marks a unique journey for the one who changes address and those who journey along with them.
I have said this is a blog that is about wrestling with church… and it may be at these moments that the wrestling spikes !! (it is in these kind of moments that more people open up their lives to hear about this eternity thing) And as I think of these 3 changes of address, the ones that aren’t able to realize more of a full life such as Billy did, tend to up the intensity of that wrestling match. So as I often do, I find comfort in writing down my thoughts. As we received word of my niece’s life and death battle, and what those around her were going through, I wrestled with God and He gave me some thoughts to write down (which I have passed along to some of the family members).
He brought this familiar passage from Ephesians 3 and had me hone in on one word in particular…
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The word that He put before me goes right along with the reason for these blog posts… if you haven’t guessed it, the word is grasp. We certainly wrestle or need to grasp at these highly emotional and difficult moments of loss. And as we gather with families to help them grasp… it always seems to give us a wonderful picture of how the family wrestles together. Sadly though it seems to happen so much more at these moments than prior to them. I am thankful for how the family shows up and together grasps God’s wonderful promises.
But as I thought of this time and others like it I wondered what if we did that better and more proactively as a church prior to these crisis moments, not only what might it do for these moments of remembering a loved one, but what might it change how His family lives out their daily lives. That is if we were truly grasping how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and being filled with the full measure of God??!!
One of men’s ministries “heroes” (ok work with me here… because he would never call himself that)… Robert Lewis in his definition of a man of God said one of the attributes that man will live with is to live with eternity in mind. Certainly, Billy lived with eternity in mind. How are we actually doing that? And maybe more importantly how does a dark world see His church doing this together?
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Our world can certainly be full of trouble… but let’s not wait until that trouble is here in the form of having to remember a loved one’s passing before we start the process of living our life with the one who has overcome. What might that look like if it was the overwhelming work of His church in our communities??!! How are we doing with being those hope – givers!! In a small group study that our life together group (over a year ago) did together called “For the Life of the World” the question that it laid out from the beginning and throughout was this: What is our personal salvation for?