Photo by Cori Lusk Ford
“If I rise, let me rise on you. Not on all of my success, my esteem or my pursuits. If I lose, let me lose my life. Cause if I belong to Jesus, the flesh is crucified. For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. If I grow, let me grow in You. Wilt the seeds of wanting more. Rippin’ pride out by the roots, and if I’m still, let me hear You speak. Not the tone of my transgressions, but the song of the Redeemed. For me to Live is Christ, to die is gain. My great desire is to be with you. But this is the place you chose for me. To lift my cross and give everything. This is the time you gave me… For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. I’ll never be the same…” To Live is Christ by Sidewalk Prophets.
I closed my eyes and worshiped to this song as we drove down the road. Cody squeezed my hand gently, bringing me back to reality. I looked over at him from the passenger seat. “If I die before you, can you be happy for me?” I asked him. Cody’s eyes grew wide as if to say, “Why are you asking me this?” He immediately responded, “Don’t say stuff like that.” I shook my head, “I’m being serious. Death is inevitable. We’d be home, dancing with Jesus!” I exclaimed. Cody squeezed my hand again, interlocking our fingers and just grinned.
Ten days later this question was ringing in my head. Ringing in my heart, shattering it to pieces. Repeating over and over in my ears. “If I die before you, can you be happy for me?” What made me ask such a question? Could I fulfill my own request I had asked of my husband just 10 days prior? No. I was not happy. I am still not happy. Nor will I ever be fully happy with the way my life is being written. It feels like chapters and chapters of my life have been ripped out, shredded to pieces and the little pieces are floating through the air aimlessly. Chaos. The ripples of paper are pure chaos. Chaos of emotions. Chaos of fears. Chaos of anger. Chaos of memories. What will make the torn pieces of paper whole again? Nothing.
There is nothing that will puzzle those same pieces of paper together like they were. God is showing me that the torn pages are not supposed to be reclaimed and put back together neatly again. He ripped them up for a reason. He has a purpose for the chaos. He has a purpose for the pain.
He has a purpose.
If we were whole, intact, in perfect condition, had flawless lives, experienced no death, no poverty, no ailment, no shipwrecks to endure, why would we need Jesus? We wouldn’t.
I get it. I need Jesus. But my flesh is also screaming how much I need my husband and the father of my child.
“If I die before you, can you be happy for me?” I am remembering my spiritual emotions while asking this off the wall question. The words in the above song evoked passion and ignited my spirit to crave to be with our Creator. To be in His presence. To be face to face with Him in glory. I couldn’t contain my praise or spiritual excitement. I was imagining what it would truly be like in heaven, and in that moment I wanted to go. Not because I didn’t want to live my life here, but because I know this is not my forever home—Heaven is. I wasn’t worried about what it would be like for my loved ones in the wake of my departure. I didn’t think that far in advance asking my question.
Heaven has a new meaning to me now. I can close my eyes and visualize Cody, so purely and magnificently LIVING. Let me say that word again—LIVING. To be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord. Cody is LIVING in the presence of the One who created him. The One who knew the number of hairs on his head and how many freckles were on his body. Cody is more alive than he ever was walking this earth. That is freeing. I have to focus on Heaven. Otherwise my mind becomes a hell.
If Cody had asked me the same question, I would have been struck with an instant fear just as he was. Our flesh doesn’t have another response for death. Death is so dark and lonely this side of glory. Dark and lonely doesn’t even come close to sufficient enough descriptive words. But death is lost somewhere between earth and heaven. Its death for us mourning the loss of our loved one(s) here on earth and then its ultimate, joyous eternal LIVING for those that departed having Christ as their Savior. Eternal—Forever and then forever more. Never ending time. Cody is LIVING in Heaven in never ending time. He is more alive than I am, than you are. Wow!
The best thing we can do in the wake of losing a loved one(s) is to get up every day and despite the pain and loneliness we have to choose to LIVE. We have to LIVE with a purpose and Laugh on purpose. Be selfless. Praise God with a passion.
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.