“Momma, can I ask you a question?” I heard my five-year-old say. I closed my eyes and patiently replied, “yes.” This had to have been the 27th question in the last ten minutes.
“Okay, momma, can you turn the music off and come sit with me.” Her tone changed. I put my makeup brush down, paused my worship playlist on my phone and turned my attention to my daughter who sat on the bathroom floor drawing. (disclaimer—she likes to be right next to me in the mornings getting ready for school and work, so I let her draw or color on the bathroom floor while I get ready.) Her eyes were curious. She pointed to the small area in front of her, silently asking me to sit with her again. I sat.
“Momma, how did my Daddy Cody go to heaven?”
I had known this was coming. I had been preparing myself for this conversation for about two years. Heaven is not a new topic for us. She knows Heaven is our forever home. She’s asked many questions about her Daddy Cody who went to Heaven when she was 8-months old. She understands he’s not here and he is in Heaven with Jesus. But she hadn’t put together that there has to be a physical aspect of dying to get to Heaven.
I hesitated. She’s five. I don’t want to tell her too much. But I want to tell her truth. I asked what exactly she meant? “What happened for him to go to Heaven?” she repeated. “Jesus just came down and got him, and poof, he’s gone?” she questioned.
I almost giggled at her detailed analysis. “Didn’t something happen to him for him not to be here?” she asked again.
“Yes,” I replied. “Do you think you’re ready for this conversation?” She immediately nodded her head, yes.
As tears formed in my eyes, I grabbed her hand and asked the Holy Spirit for help before beginning the toughest conversation of her five years.
“Daddy Cody went fishing one night on the lake we lived on. We had a small boat he would use when he went fishing. He texted me to let me know he was almost done and going to be headed in soon. Momma fell asleep with you and woke up hours later and he wasn’t in bed. So, I got up and went through the house. No sign of him. I started calling and texting him. No response. I went out to the pier with a flashlight, and I couldn’t see or hear anything. Momma didn’t really know what to do so I decided to wait until morning, so I could see better. I thought he went to a friends house around the lake and maybe his phone ran out of battery.” I paused. “What happened next, mommy?” she asked.
I took a deep breath and began again, “I waited until morning, and when I still couldn’t see anything, I called a neighbor and they got on boats and went across the lake. When they returned with no news, I called 911 for help. They sent someone called a Game Warden with a big boat and equipment that can see under water to scan the lake. The boat looked all day, but they couldn’t find him.”
“Where did he go, what happened to him?” she asked. “We didn’t know exactly what happened,” I responded. “The Game Warden looked for 5 days before they found daddy in the water.”
“Five days, that’s a long time!” she exclaimed. “Yes, baby it is.”
“But what happened to him for him to go to Heaven?” she asked.
I replied, “Daddy somehow tipped the boat and went under the cold water and couldn’t get out.”
She leaned over and brushed the tears off my face. “But daddy trusted God, so he went to Heaven?” she stated.
“Yes, baby, daddy trusted God, so he is in Heaven now.”
Her curiosity continued as she asked, “But what happens when someone has no more days left on earth and they didn’t trust God?”
With this question I was able to explain that as real as Heaven is-so is a place called hell, and how our enemy, the devil schemes to turn people away from Jesus.
“Mommy, I’m going to trust God all of my life so I can go to Heaven one day too! And Daddy Cody will be there to hug me!” she said.
It’s conversations like these that plunge the reality of life and death, and heaven and hell to the forefront of my mind. How am I living my life? Am I using every aspect of my life to glorify my Creator? On the really hard days I daydream of Heaven. I wonder about the glorious colors I’ve never seen before, the beautiful worship I’ve never heard before. I daydream about being face to face with Jesus. The absolute peace and all-consuming joy it would be. And then I remember Cody is there. I remember his beautiful worship on earth- I can’t wait to see him worship in Heaven. The sadness of the loss, the trauma of the loss dissipates a little more with each thought and wonder of Heaven.
This is not my eternal home.
Jesus tells us in John 14, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (1-7)
Do you ever think about Heaven? I mean really think about Heaven? Think of the most breathtaking landscape you’ve seen on earth and multiply that by infinity and I guarantee it doesn’t come close to the beauty in Heaven. Imagine your most healthy, productive, joy filled and peaceful day and multiply that by infinity and I wonder if that compares to our heavenly bodies and minds. I can’t fathom. But it excites me knowing there is so much more than the brokenness of this current life.
Peter states in 1 Peter 1:3-9, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Nothing can tarnish or extinguish the secure inheritance we have reserved in Heaven with Christ as our Lord and when we recognize Him as the One who took on death, to give us eternal life. Our faith is purified through our earthly trials. I pray your faith finds no falter through your present sufferings. I pray your mind stays eternally focused, knowing this life is a blink of an eye compared to eternity.
Paul writes in Colossians 3:1-3, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
I’ve learned so much through loss. The Lord has revealed more of Himself to me during my darkest moments. When tough conversations or grief moments arise I’ll keeping choosing to set my mind on Heaven and the glory that waits. I choose to see life over death.
Happy 5 years in the Heavens, Cody Lusk. I’m thankful for you, and the life we created. You will forever be in my heart. 1.14.2017
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.