This is why He came...and this is why He died...to lift up the dead, to heal the sick, and to sustain the brokenness of those who grieve. The brokenness of those who were at the foot of the cross then. And those who find themselves at the foot of the cross today. The God who was present when Jesus died and tore the curtain at the temple is the same God who is present now in our sufferings.
I just got home from a funeral. I'm sitting in one of my favorite spots, the "plant room" at my boyfriend's house, listening to the hard rain and thunderstorm. Looking at the little seed tray I started of herbs and veggies, watching the rain fall out the window behind them. Thinking about how God created the tiny seeds I planted. And yes, created the rain to help the new life grow.
I also celebrated my first Easter without my dad. My dad and I never really spent many Easters together. He was usually working at the hospital, and I was very much into the routine of spending the day going to church and then my grandparents' house.
But nonetheless, it was my first Easter without him on earth with me.
I spent the week leading up to Easter extremely busy and preoccupied by work. I meant to write and share a blog post on Good Friday, but the day passed without me even looking up from my computer for 6 hours. And at that point, I needed a break.
But Easter...the holiday that completes Christmas. Completing Jesus' life and creating wholeness where man fell short. Filling the gap between us and God with salvation...a redemption and love like no other.
I remember the season of Lent 2 years ago really moving me, as it had followed the death of my brother's high school best friend. A life cut short too soon. A life that spent much time with my family in the years prior.
"I really do have a new perspective on how short life can be, the reason why we are here and what we should strive to reach for, how to treat people, how to live, how to love... To love at all takes risk. And even though through loving you can experience great pain, you can also experience great joy.
I guess I want to get to know more people, connect with more people, and love more people in this short time I am here on this earth. A human lifespan is a quick blink of an eye in measure with eternity. It can also be taken away in an instant.
I don't know what God's plans for me are, but I know how I want to live. I am not even entirely sure where I want to be, let alone how to get there. But if I can strive for love and connection and vulnerability, I will have no regrets about that. I shouldn't, anyway..."
God...God is so merciful and so good.
My pastor, Kenneth, really brought it home on Sunday. I even teared up at church thinking about my dad. Thinking about how Easter is the day we celebrate the greatest love story that ever existed. The day we celebrate the life that was raised up to bring us healing and closer to the One who created all things.
Closer to the one who didn't create death, but defeated it. And in defeating it, bringing us the hope that this life is not the end.
Because of Jesus, and because of Easter, I know my dad is safe in the arms of the One who created him and loves Him more than any of us here on earth could comprehend. His final moments here do not mean the end of his soul. We grieve and mourn, but not as those without hope.
Because of Jesus, I can look at this photo from my dad's visitation with hope that the Glory of God was at work and continues to be through all of mankind...connecting all of us to a greater love story.
Although the grief still consumes me from time to time, I try to remember that my dad is in the presence of God now and for eternity. That even though his life ending was one of the worst things I have experienced and probably will, his soul has never felt more freedom or love. He is where we all long and hope to be someday...if we believe that there is more. And I know that there is. There is always more. I can feel it all day everyday. That Hope and Promise bringing me more appreciation and gratitude for the life God has given me since my dad's passing...more than I could comprehend.
The Lord gives and He takes away. He brought my dad home much sooner in life than I could have anticipated. But through it God continues to fill any spaces in my own heart with His goodness and provision for my life. It continues to be beyond what I can understand. I feel so undeserving. Yet so humbled, cared for and protected.
I always try to remember that if God didn't love life, then He wouldn't have created it. And if He is able to sprout a tiny seed in just a week from soil, sunlight, and water, then imagine what He is capable of doing to our own hearts and lives.